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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Think You Know John McCain?

The nominee fails to support Medicare

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Last week, only one senator failed to vote on a bill that would prevent pay cuts for doctors who take care of 44 million Medicare patients—older Americans, those with disabilities and military families.

The lone senator was not Sen. Edward Kennedy, who took a break from his cancer treatments to make the important vote in the Senate. The holdout was likely Republican presidential nominee John McCain, who chose to campaign in Ohio and California instead.

McCain told reporters that he would have voted against the bill.

The bill had passed by a wide margin (355-59) in the House of Representatives, and Democrats backed the measure because cutting reimbursements would cause doctors to limit or completely stop treating Medicare patients.

Republicans, including President George Bush, and insurance companies opposed the bill because it would cut payments to private insurers who offer Medicare Advantage plans. Bush vetoed the bill on July 15.

The private insurers who handle Medicare beneficiaries cost 17% more than the government-run portion Medicare.

McCain has made “entitlement” spending—which includes programs such as Medicare—a target in his campaign. McCain has claimed that he could balance the budget by cutting Medicare spending and ending the war in Iraq, plans that don’t quite hold up to scrutiny in the real world.

This wasn’t the first time McCain declined to vote on the Medicare bill. late June, Democrats needed 60 votes override a Republican filibuster. They came up with 59, and only two senators— McCain and the ailing Kennedy—didn’t vote.

What’s your take? Write: editor@shepex.com or comment on this story online at www.expressmilwaukee.com.

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