What: All Issues : Health Care : Medicare & Medicaid Funding : H.J. Res 2. Fiscal 2003 Omnibus Appropriations/Procedural Vote to Defeat an Amendment Designed to Extend Those Medicare Benefits for Seniors That Are Scheduled to Expire at the End of Fiscal Year 2002. (2003 senate Roll Call 21)
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H.J. Res 2. Fiscal 2003 Omnibus Appropriations/Procedural Vote to Defeat an Amendment Designed to Extend Those Medicare Benefits for Seniors That Are Scheduled to Expire at the End of Fiscal Year 2002.
senate Roll Call 21     Jan 23, 2003
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss
Qualifies as polarizing?
Yes
Is this vote crucial?
Yes

Financial pressures on the Medicare system have in recent years been a cause of great concern for lawmakers and patients alike and for good reason--as the "surplus" generation of baby-boomers become eligible for Medicare benefits, they will demand more from the healthcare system than previous generations because of their significantly greater numbers. To address the possibility of funding shortages in the short term, Congress adopted important Medicare and Medicaid provisions in the Balanced Budget Act of 1999 and the Beneficiary Improvement and Protection Act of 2001. However, Medicare benefits for seniors codified in those laws are due to expire at the end of fiscal year 2002. In an effort to extend those benefits into the future, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) proposed an amendment to the 2003 federal budget which, among other things, prevents funding cuts for both individuals receiving dialysis services and individuals receiving treatment for stroke in addition to extending the eligibility of low-income seniors who are unable to afford Medicare premiums. Progressives supported the Clinton amendment because Medicare comprises an important component of the social safety net-many seniors are on fixed incomes and cannot afford private insurance plans. During debate on Clinton's measure, Republican Don Nickles (R-OK) raised a point of order that the funding mechanism in the Clinton amendment violated congressional budget laws. To overcome the point of order, Clinton's amendment required the support from a supermajority of 60 Senators. Only 41 Senators voted in support, however, and the amendment fell by a margin of 41-56.

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