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Blunt Praises President's Plan to Save Medicare

Time to Stop Wasting Precious Medicare Dollars on Trial Lawyers and Focus on Needy Seniors

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- House Republican Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) today praised President Bush's proposal that would put Medicare on a track of economic stability.

"It is clear that without substantial reforms, Medicare will not be able to meet the basic needs of tomorrow's seniors. The legislation put forth by the president is the needed first-step to help give this program a solid economic footing.

"Medicare is on an unsustainable path. If we allow it to continue on autopilot, Medicare will be bankrupt in 11 years endangering health care for millions of senior citizens," Blunt said. "The legislative proposal, submitted to Congress today by the president, would lay the foundation to correct this troubling reality."

The proposal submitted by the President would:

-- Reform the nation's medical liability laws in order to put patients' interests before those of trial lawyers;

-- Focus the Medicare prescription drug program on low-income seniors by limiting the amount of taxpayer funded benefits for seniors with incomes of more that $80,000, saving Medicare an estimated $3 billion over five years; and

-- Allow the Department of Health and Human Services to introduce value-driven competition into Medicare and create incentives for high-quality, low-cost health care options.

Under federal law, this year the Congress is required to consider either the proposal submitted by the President or other proposals that reform Medicare.

"Last year Congressional Democrats put forward a bill to cut Medicare Advantage, cut Medicare benefits for home healthcare workers, oxygen, skilled nursing facilities, dialysis, and wheelchairs. It is my hope that this year Democrats will abandon those proposals and instead join us in reforming Medicare by introducing market reforms that it put low-income seniors first. The President's proposal does just that," Blunt said.

President Bush submitted his legislative proposal because Title VIII of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-173) requires the president to submit to Congress a legislative proposal to reduce Medicare spending if the Medicare Trustees issue a funding warning. For the first time ever, the Medicare Trustees issued a funding warning in 2007 when, for the second time in two years, nearly half of Medicare spending is estimated to come from general revenues within the next seven years.

Congressional leadership from each party is required to introduce the President's proposal within three legislative days. The appropriate committees of jurisdiction are then required to report legislation to respond to the Medicare funding warning by June 30, 2008.

SOURCE House Republican Whip Roy Blunt
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