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Ear to the Ground

Ted Kennedy Makes Surprise Visit to Save Medicare Bill

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Posted on Jul 10, 2008
Ted Kennedy returns
AP photo / Lauren Victoria Burke

Dramatic entrance: Sen. Ted Kennedy, followed by his niece Caroline Kennedy, enters the Capitol building in Washington on Wednesday.

Just when it seemed they wouldn’t have enough votes to pass a key Medicare bill, Democratic senators staged a dramatic coup by secretly whisking Sen. Edward Kennedy into the Capitol on Wednesday to cast his vote and make his first congressional appearance since he was diagnosed with brain cancer in May.

The New York Times:

“Without Ted Kennedy, we wouldn’t have gotten the extra nine votes,” said Mr. Reid, who aides said was laughing uproariously in the cloak room after they pulled off the victory. “They knew the die had been cast, so they gave up.”

Senate officials said Mr. Kennedy had been unhappy that his absence had hurt efforts to block the cuts, which some fear could make some doctors less willing to treat patients on Medicare, a program Mr. Kennedy has championed since he voted for its creation in 1965. They said he contacted Mr. Reid about the possibility of traveling to Washington, and the two senators and their staffs hatched the plan that was cemented Tuesday night.

The bill would reverse a 10.6 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors who care for millions of older Americans. The cut, required by a formula in the Medicare law, took effect on July 1, though the Bush administration has delayed processing new claims for two weeks, to give Congress time to come up with a compromise.

The bill had overwhelming bipartisan support in the House, where it was passed by a vote of 355 to 59 on June 24.

President Bush and many Republican senators have opposed the measure, in part because it would finance a small increase in Medicare payments to doctors by cutting federal payments to insurance companies that offer private Medicare Advantage plans, as an alternative to the traditional government-run program.

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By freeyourmind, July 11, 2008 at 9:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree thanks Ted, but at same time I would like everyone to beware of the fact that Mr. Kennedy was taking to an out of state hospital in a private jet at no cost to him. The senators and congressman have free health care,the best you can get. PEACE

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By cyrena, July 11, 2008 at 8:53 am Link to this comment

You’re right was beyond the call of duty.

The full article was interesting. I’d not been aware of the same situation occurring with Senator Claire Engle in 1964, when she was dying of a brain tumor. According to the piece, she was wheeled into the session to cast two critical votes on the Civil Rights legislation.

Some people make history better for all of us. Not many, but a few.

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By dick, July 11, 2008 at 6:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

On balance, one of the best guys in Congress.

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Outraged's avatar

By Outraged, July 10, 2008 at 11:35 pm Link to this comment

Thank you Senator Kennedy.  This is above and beyond the call of duty.  You put to shame all those who disregard the people who ACTUALLY built this country and make a mockery of those who whose greed would see it fall.

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By jersey girl, July 10, 2008 at 5:26 pm Link to this comment

Thanks Ted.  May the force be with you.

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