American families are struggling to find affordable health insurance coverage. Rising health care costs are straining family budgets as well as state budgets, forcing employers to drop or scale back health insurance coverage for their workers, increasing the number of uninsured Americans, and impeding access to needed health care services. Over the last eight years, little progress has been made in reducing many of the disparities experienced by racial and ethnic minorities in accessing health care, with lack of insurance coverage constituting a major barrier to reducing those disparities.
Unfortunately, President Bush and Republicans in Congress have allowed the problem to worsen on their watch and made covering the uninsured a low priority. In fact, the health care proposals put forth by the President each year in his budget request, upon close examination, would do little or nothing to make health coverage more affordable and would actually leave many Americans worse off than they are today. The Republican nominee for President, Senator McCain, shares President Bush’s misguided vision and promises four more years of the same harmful proposals.
Democrats are committed to containing health care costs, reducing disparities, and securing guaranteed affordable health coverage for all Americans. While we have made a significant down payment towards achieving these ends, Senate Democrats are far from satisfied. All too often, Bush-McCain Republicans have stood in the way of progress and refused to work with Democrats in good faith to address the needs of the nation. The American people are tired of these partisan tactics, and Senate Democrats share their frustration. That is why Democrats will not rest until we have fully addressed the key priorities of our nation. Democrats will continue to lead the way for change that benefits all Americans.
Congress voted overwhelmingly to override President Bush’s veto of critical Medicare legislation. Both the House and the Senate approved H.R.6331, the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act, by veto-proof majorities. Despite the overwhelming bi-partisan support for this bill, however, President Bush vetoed it. While the President and his Republican allies in Congress fought to protect the health insurance industry, Democrats fought to protect seniors. That is why under Democratic leadership, Congress voted overwhelmingly to override the President’s irresponsible veto of this bill, and on July 15, 2008, the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act became law (P.L. 110-275). This legislation prevented a 10.6 percent cut in payments to physicians who care for the 44 million American seniors in the Medicare program and the estimated 8.9 million beneficiaries in the military’s TRICARE program. Approximately 75 percent of Hispanic Seniors are enrolled in the traditional Medicare fee-for-service program.
The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act will also: