The Senate voted 54-39 to block consideration of Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus Medicare reform bill, which primarily uses cuts to Medicare Advantage plans to fund higher payments to physicians.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) changed his vote at the last minute to oppose the bill, but he had to, for procedural reasons, to reserve the right to bring it back up again in the future, said an aide to Reid. Well try to bring it up again as soon as we can, he said.
We all know what this vote was about, and it wasnt about whats best for American seniors. The White House doesnt want overpaid private plans in Medicare to lose a single dime, said Baucus (D-Mont.) in a written statement after the vote. The White House had said Baucus bill would be vetoed.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the finance committees ranking member, said he hoped the failed bill would lead to more effective negotiations. Grassley has an alternative bill that would also halt the payment cut to physicians but contains different funding sources.
Baucus attempted to defend his legislation during floor debate, claiming it would not take money away from teaching hospitals, make drastic cuts to Medicare Advantage, or eliminate private fee-for service Medicare Advantage plans. -- by Jennifer Lubell