Mark Pryor hammers Tom Cotton over budget votes | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mark Pryor hammers Tom Cotton over budget votes

Posted By on Thu, Apr 10, 2014 at 4:50 PM

On the one hand, it's easy to poke fun at the epic, novel-length press releases that Sen. Mark Pryor's camp sends out detailing all of the stuff that Rep. Tom Cotton votes against, or votes to cut. On the other hand, Cotton's preferred policies really do amount to a whole lot pain, and cataloging all that is a big endeavor. Here's Max giving it a go back in January. 

Today Cotton voted for both the Ryan budget and the even more draconian Republican Study Committee budget. That means voucherizing Medicare, benefit cuts for seniors, cuts for preventative care. After the jump, the release from Pryor has (much) more. 

Cotton, who likes his public pronouncements as skimpy on verbiage as he likes his safety net skimpy on benefits, has a different take

Today House Republicans again demonstrated they are the only adults in the room when it comes to solving our country’s fiscal problems. This budget returns us to balance within 10 years, while repealing Obamacare and imposing no new taxes. And it begins to rebuild our military from some of the drastic cuts they’ve faced in recent years, protecting America’s place on the world stage. Finally, it preserves Medicare for future generations, while ensuring ensuring current retirees and those nearing retirement see no change. President Obama and his liberal allies can’t keep spending money we don’t have on bloated welfare programs and failed economic policies. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to stop sitting idly by and waiting for our country to descend into financial ruin.

The release from Pryor:
Cotton is Only Ark. Congressman to Go All-In on Ending Guaranteed Benefits for Seniors

On Monday, Cotton promised on national TV he supports “no changes” for seniors

Voted today to immediately end free cancer screenings and flu shots, reopen the prescription drug “donut hole” and turn Medicare into voucher system for those 59 and younger

LITTLE ROCK—Today, Rep. Tom Cotton was the only member of Arkansas’ all-Republican House delegation to vote for two separate budget proposals that would cut benefits for seniors today while turning Medicare into a voucher system. For the fourth time in less than two years, Cotton supported controversial budgets offered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and the Republican Study Committee, both of which would immediately increase out-of-pocket costs for Arkansas seniors.

Just as last year, Cotton was the only Arkansans in Congress reckless enough to support the RSC budget, which initiates many of its most drastic changes to Medicare five years sooner than the Ryan plan.

During a national television interview earlier this week, Cotton tried to pull a fast one by promising Arkansas seniors he would, “make no changes for those who are in or approaching retirement.” His votes, of course, tell a very different story: since he’s been in Congress, Cotton has never missed an opportunity to shortchange older Arkansans.

Here are the facts about the reckless budgets Cotton continues to support:
• Both the Ryan Budget and the RSC Budget will voucherize Medicare, turning it over to insurance companies.

• Both the Ryan Budget and the RSC Budget will immediately cut benefits for 555,000 Arkansas seniors.

• Both the Ryan Budget and the RSC Budget will reopen the Medicare “donut hole,” forcing seniors to pay more out of pocket for prescription drugs.

“Congressman Cotton just isn’t listening to Arkansas seniors, and that’s why he continues to vote for these irresponsible plans to end Medicare as we know it,” said Pryor for Senate spokesman Erik Dorey. “Folks here in Arkansas can’t afford Congressman Cotton’s reckless plans to cut seniors’ benefits and turn Medicare into a voucher system run by insurance companies. Congressman Cotton would pull the rug out from underneath Arkansas seniors after a lifetime of hard work, and that’s simply irresponsible.”

Cotton Voted To Turn Medicare Into A Voucher Program And Cut Medicare Benefits. On April 10, 2014, Cotton voted for the FY 15 Republican Budget, commonly referred to as the Ryan Budget. According to LA Times, “Ryan retained his idea for turning the Medicare health system into a voucher-like program for future seniors, providing a fixed amount of cash that can be applied toward the purchase of private health insurance. The voucher may also be used to enroll in traditional Medicare, but it may not fully cover the cost.” It was also remove Medicare benefits that were expanded in the health care law. [Vote 177, 4/10/14; LA Times, 4/11/14]

Cotton Was The Only Arkansan To Vote For A Budget That Turned Medicare Into A Voucher Program And Cut Medicare Benefits. On April 10, 2014, Cotton voted for the FY 15 Republican Study Committee Budget. It would turn Medicare into a voucher program starting in 2019 and remove Medicare benefits that were expanded in the health care law. [Vote 175, 4/10/14; Republican Study Committee, accessed 4/8/14]

Cotton Said He Supported FY15 Ryan Budget. According to the Arkansas News Bureau, “Cotton, a Republican from Dardanelle, said he plans to vote for the Ryan budget when it comes up for a vote this week in the House. While a Senate vote is unlikely, Pryor said he opposes the Ryan budget plan.” [Arkansas News Bureau, 4/4/14]

FY15 Ryan Budget Would Cut At Least $129 Billion From Medicare. “Ryan's fiscal 2015 budget would cut $129 billion from Medicare over the next decade. It calls for a policy of ‘premium support’ for Americans age 55 and under, which would give them the choice between traditional Medicare and buying private insurance on a new Medicare exchange with subsidies when they become eligible for the program in 2024. Premium-support payments would be adjusted based on individuals' health as well as their incomes.” [Modern Health Care, 4/1/14]

FY15 Ryan Budget Turned Medicare Into A Voucher Program. According to the LA Times, “Ryan retained his idea for turning the Medicare health system into a voucher-like program for future seniors, providing a fixed amount of cash that can be applied toward the purchase of private health insurance. The voucher may also be used to enroll in traditional Medicare, but it may not fully cover the cost. Republicans once promised that the Medicare changes would not start on anyone older than 55, but under Ryan's budget they would apply to those who are no older than 56 as of this year.” [LA Times, 4/1/14]
• Ryan Budget Vouchers Were Not Guaranteed To Cover The Full Cost Of Traditional Medicare. According to LA Times, “Ryan retained his idea for turning the Medicare health system into a voucher-like program for future seniors, providing a fixed amount of cash that can be applied toward the purchase of private health insurance. The voucher may also be used to enroll in traditional Medicare, but it may not fully cover the cost.” [LA Times, 4/11/14]

Cotton Supported Repealing Annual Wellness Visits And Free Cancer Screens For Seniors. According to PolitiFact, “Preventive care with no out-of-pocket costs. Everyone on Medicare is now eligible for free preventive care as a result of President Barack Obama’s health care law. Seniors’ annual wellness visits would be covered, as well as flu shots and a number of screenings for cervical cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, HIV, and cholesterol (complete list is here). These services would not require co-pays.” [PolitiFact, 8/18/12]

Cotton Would End Doctor Visits Without Co-payments Or Deductibles. According to Consumer Reports, the health care law included “Free preventive care and annual checkups. The law focuses on prevention and primary care to help people stay healthy and to manage chronic medical conditions before they become more complex and costly to treat. New private health plans must cover and eliminate cost-sharing (co-payment, co-insurance, or deductible) for proven preventive measures such as immunizations and cancer screenings. Additional preventive measures for women kicked in August 2012, including free well-woman visits, screening for gestational diabetes, domestic violence screening, breast-feeding supplies, and contraception, all with no cost-sharing.” [Consumer Reports, 9/20/11]

Cotton Would Cut Free Yearly Medicare Wellness Visit. According to the AARP, “Until Jan. 1 [2011], Medicare did not cover any routine exams except for the ‘Welcome to Medicare’ exam for new beneficiaries. The Affordable Care Act created the once-a-year wellness visit as a new benefit, paying doctors to perform it and making it free to patients. By the end of June, Medicare had paid for nearly 1 million such visits, according to CMS.” [AARP, 7/22/11]

FY15 Ryan Budget Would Re-Open Medicare Part D Doughnut Hole, Increasing Prescription Drug Costs For 7.3 Million Seniors By $1,200 Per Person. The Ryan budget would repeal provisions of the law that closed the prescription drug donut hole. According to the Hill, “ObamaCare has saved seniors and people with disabilities nearly $9 billion in prescription drug costs, according to data touted Tuesday by the Obama administration. According to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, 7.3 million people who reached the ‘doughnut hole’ in their Medicare prescription drug coverage have saved $8.9 billion on their prescription drugs since the law was enacted in 2010. That’s an average savings of $1,209 per person.” [The Hill, 11/26/13]


2013: Cotton Voted for FY 2014 Ryan Budget That Restructured Medicare Into A Voucher System. In 2013, Cotton voted for passage of the controversial Ryan Budget that would provide $2.769 trillion in new budget authority in fiscal 2014, not including off-budget accounts. It would restructure Medicare into a ‘premium support’ system beginning in 2024. The budget was adopted by a vote of 221-207. [CQ; H Con Res 25, Vote #88, 3/21/13]

2013: Cotton Was the Only Member Of The Arkansas Delegation To Vote for Republican Study Committee Budget That Transformed Medicare Into Voucher System, Raised the Eligibility Age For Medicare To 70 And Cut Social Security Benefits. In 2013, Cotton voted for the Republican Study Committee budget that “would assume the transformation of Medicare into a premium support program that would compete against private plans.” According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the budget “transitions Medicare to a premium support system by 2019 for new beneficiaries, and raises the Medicare retirement age to 70 and indexes it to life expectancy… Unlike other budgets, [Republican Study Budget] also addresses Social Security specifically by switching to the chained CPI for cost-of-living adjustments and increasing the full retirement age to 70 and indexing it for life expectancy.” According to the AARP, “Changing the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) using a chained CPI would have a detrimental impact on the economic wellbeing of older and disabled Americans and their family members who receive benefits from Social Security. Small reductions to the annual COLA will accumulate over time so that the largest reductions in benefits will be on the oldest beneficiaries and the long-term disabled. For example, 92- year-old beneficiaries who were on the program for 30 years would see an 8.4% cut in benefits. Disabled children could face even larger benefit cuts over their lifetime. Oldest Americans are the least able to absorb cuts to their benefits as they are more reliant on Social Security for their income and have higher out-of-pocket medical spending and a higher poverty rate than younger Americans.” The budget was rejected by a vote of 104-132. [CQ; H Con Res 25, Vote #86, 3/20/13; Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, 3/19/13; AARP, October 2012]

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