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Risch Votes Against Plan to Add $247 Billion to Deficit

Says Legislation Should Be Included in Health Care Reform

October 21, 2009

Washington, DC- U.S. Senator Jim Risch joined with a bipartisan group of senators today in voting against legislation that would have added $247 billion to the national debt in order to delay Medicare reimbursement rate cuts. The measure, which failed by a 53-47 margin to proceed with the measure, is the first major vote on health care reform in the 111th Congress.

"Over the past 10 months Congress has added to the deficit at a record-setting rate. The bipartisan opposition on this vote seems to indicate Washington is finally listening to Americans who have had enough of this rampant overspending," said Risch.

In 1992 legislation went into effect limiting the growth of Medicare costs to that of the overall economy. Since 2002 Medicare costs have grown faster than the economy and Congress has passed an annual "patch" preventing cuts in the reimbursement rate from taking place. Today's vote was to extend protection from those cuts over the next decade by adding $247 billion to the national debt.

"This was not about fixing Medicare reimbursement rates, it was an attempt to falsely lower the final price tag on the health care reform bill by taking a single issue out and treating it separately," said Risch. "Doctors deserve fair compensation for the critical services they provide thus making their services more available to all Medicare recipients, but this bill is simply not the way to do it."

The 40 Republicans who voted against closing debate on the bill were joined by 12 Democrats and one Independent in opposing the budgetary sleight of hand.