What: All Issues : Health Care : H.R. 1. Prescription Drug Benefit/Vote to Instruct House Conferees to Create Income Thresholds Which Would Dictate the Amount of Health Coverage Individuals' Receive. (2003 house Roll Call 534)
 Who: All Members : New York, District 2 : King, Pete
[POW!]
 
H.R. 1. Prescription Drug Benefit/Vote to Instruct House Conferees to Create Income Thresholds Which Would Dictate the Amount of Health Coverage Individuals' Receive.
house Roll Call 534     Oct 07, 2003
Member's Vote
(progressive
or not)
Progressive Position
Progressive Result
(win or loss)

In 2003, federal expenditures on Medicare exceeded $244 billion. And, barring permanent changes to the program, Medicare costs will continue to increase as baby-boomers retire and begin receiving Medicare benefits. To address the rising costs of Medicare, the GOP-controlled Congress adopted a prescription drug bill to provide drug coverage through private insurance companies rather than through Medicare. However, the legislation which emerged from the House and Senate differed in certain areas and a conference committee was convened to reconcile differences between the two versions of the bill. In an effort to influence the policy debate within the conference committee, Congressman Flake (R-AZ) motioned to instruct House conferees to include income thresholds on health coverage (income thresholds in public policy lingo are called "means-tests"). Conservatives viewed Flake's motion as a common-sense method of cost containment. Why, Conservatives asked, should the federal government provide health benefits to the wealthiest members of society who can already afford medical care? Progressives opposed Flake's motion for several reasons. First, they argued, adopting income thresholds on health coverage would transform Medicare from an entitlement program-which all qualified seniors, regardless of income, can benefit from-into a welfare program. Progressives contended that transforming Medicare into a welfare program that was only available to low-income individuals would undermine popular support for the federal health insurance program-a program which was initially created to insure that equal health benefits are available to every senior citizen regardless of their income. Second, wealthy individuals, like everyone else, pay into the Medicare system through payroll taxes. Progressives argued that denying Medicare benefits to wealthy individuals would be unfair because those individuals pay an even greater amount in Medicare taxes per year than lower income individuals. On a vote of 161-234, the Flake motion was defeated and House conferees were not instructed to add income thresholds to the conference committee version of the prescription drug legislation.

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Issue Areas:
Key: Y=Yea, N=Nay, W=Win, L=Loss