What: All Issues : Health Care : Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs : S Con Res 70. (Fiscal 2009 budget resolution) Ensign of Nevada amendment that would allow for legislation requiring some Medicare prescription drug beneficiaries to pay a larger share of their premium/On agreeing to the amendment
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S Con Res 70. (Fiscal 2009 budget resolution) Ensign of Nevada amendment that would allow for legislation requiring some Medicare prescription drug beneficiaries to pay a larger share of their premium/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 63     Mar 13, 2008
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Progressive

This vote was on an amendment by John Ensign, R-Nev., that would adjust the budget resolution to allow for future legislation that would raise the Medicare prescription drug premium for beneficiaries earning more than $82,000 for individuals and $164,000 for couples.

The amendment was offered to the budget resolution that serves as the blueprint for Congress’ budget priorities in fiscal 2009. The budget resolution sets overall spending targets for the Appropriations committees and outlines other budget rules.

Ensign said the extra amount of money beneficiaries would have to pay would be a negligible $10 per month extra.

“This amendment saves a couple billion dollars over the next 5 years. It is very reasonable. There is nothing else in this budget that does anything on entitlement reform, and we all know entitlements are heading for a train wreck in this country. We ought to at least do this little bit for our children for deficit reduction,” Ensign said.

Max Baucus, D-Mont., opposed the amendment, saying this Medicare is a complicated matter and that the budget resolution is not the appropriate place for an amendment of this nature.  Baucus said the Medicare prescription drug benefit’s premiums are not like other Medicare premiums, and that they vary significantly according to geography and the types of plans offered in any one region.

“This should be considered broad health care reform, at least Medicare reform, and not be isolated in this case,” Baucus said.

The Senate rejected the amendment by a vote of 42-56.  All but two Democrats present voted against the amendment (Tom Carper of Delaware and Claire McCaskill of Missouri). Of Republicans present, all but eight voted for the amendment.  The end result is that the budget resolution went forward without language that would have changed the premiums for certain beneficiaries of Medicare’s prescription drug plan.

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