Senate Block Vote on Unemployment Benefits Extension and Delay Medicare Reimbursements

June 23, 2010

By Padmini Arhant

In the past week, the United States Senate was presented with the two most important bills directly affecting the average Americans survival.

According to the reports, the GOP rejected the $24 billion aid to the long-term unemployed citizens in the cash-strapped state governments and the several tax breaks renewal for businesses and individuals.

Apparently, the 56-40 vote on June 17, 2010 fell short of four votes to avoid GOP filibuster. Without any Republican votes for the measure, the Nebraskan Democrat Senator Ben Nelson along with the Connecticut Independent Senator Joe Lieberman contributed to the filibuster.

Today, the Ohio Senators’ repeat attempt to revive the bill by emphasizing on the urgency of this extension remained unsuccessful.
Per: – Thank you.

Ohio’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown told fellow Senators that “more than 57,000 Ohioans — about the size of Elyria, Ohio or Mansfield, Ohio or twice the size of Zanesville — more than 57,000 Ohioans are estimated to have lost unemployment benefits since the extension ended in May, a month ago.”

“If the Senate does not pass an extension, that number will increase dramatically. More than 90,000 Ohioans could lose their benefits by the end of June. That is more people than live in Youngstown, more people than live in Springfield, more people than live in Cleveland Heights or Lakewood.”

Brown said that, nationwide, since the beginning of June, some 900,000 workers have run out of jobless benefits. That number will surpass 1 million by the end of this week.

Brown said today that he is very disappointed by the obstructionists’ moves to stop the extension of benefits.

“Senate Republicans are denying tens of thousands of Ohioans — and thousands of people in New Hampshire and hundreds of thousands of people in California and Texas and Florida — the Republicans are denying tens of thousands of Ohioans the unemployment insurance benefits they have earned during years of hard work,” Brown told fellow Senators.

“I ask my Republican colleagues who consistently vote no to try to empathize with those who have less privileges than we do, who don’t have huge staffs and don’t have a good salary and don’t have good insurance and don’t have a secure place to live, what their lives would be like if any one of us lost all of those privileges. I think it would make a difference in how they vote.”

Perspective – By Padmini Arhant

It’s evident from the Ohio Senators’ case scenario that the situation is dire for the citizens in many states with higher unemployment.

Denying thousands of workers the means to cope with the economic recession amid rising or stagnant joblessness under the pretext of national debt or demanding that they are paid for prior to approval is a misplaced priority.

Where the Republican members should be arguing for the prepaid funding is, unnecessary wars such as Iraq and now Afghanistan including the perilous offshore drilling contributing to colossal costs witnessed at present.

It’s common knowledge that the GOP members and the few Democrats against the bill have willfully authorized the defense funding for the prolonged wars and claim no objection to the environmental damages via offshore drilling…

The Nay Sayers fail to recognize the consequences of their action or the lack thereof, leading up to the status quo exacerbation.

When the national figure for jobless benefit is expected to reach a million by the end of this week, the complacency is the affirmation of the elitist least bothered about the populist plight.

Ignoring the struggling families’ desperate economic needs based on partisanship more than fiscal responsibility is politics superseding national interest.

Although, the estimated $13 trillion national debt is a legitimate cause, the divestments from other sources with excess budget allocation including the pork barrel spending could be utilized for this important legislation.

Citizens cannot be possibly deprived of existence in the worst economy and the Republican lawmakers’ argument in this respect does not bode well, considering the positioning is purely aimed at winning conservative support in 2010 elections.

As for the isolated democrats and the independent Senator Joe Lieberman, the clock is ticking with the diminishing public patience on all issues. The proof of the pudding is in the electoral outcome.

Increased awareness and harsh experience by the electorate is a political gamble for the incumbents and the new challengers in the coming election.

People are tired of gridlock and, the ominously missing empathy among the obstructionists is a blatant dismissal of the economic reality endured by the voters.

Therefore, the ideal strategy to resolve the bill passage would be to identify the redundant funds in the fiscal budget and reallocate them for the unemployment benefit extension as well as the retrospective Medicare payments towards health care service.

Regarding the Medicare decrease in doctor payments: The belated Senate vote to spare doctors a 21 percent cut in Medicare payments is proved to have escalated the administrative costs for the providers and the taxpayers.

Much to the AMA (American Medical Association) frustration and AARP, the seniors’ lobby disappointment, the Congressional delay in the particular legislation is stated to affect the large health care program availed by 46 million elderly and disabled people.

Further, the claims processed at the lower rate are forcing many physicians to stop accepting Medicare patients while others considering dropping out of the Medicare program.

The cut appears to have had a direct impact on the billings for the early part of the month because of the Congressional reprieve expiry on May 31, 2010.

Seemingly, the lawmakers’ failure to act earlier is drastically hurting doctors’ cash flow and subsequently the beneficiaries, i.e. the most vulnerable groups in the society – the senior citizens and the disabled population, who also happen to be the nation’s substantial voting bloc.

It is obvious from the facts and legislative events that the representatives declining to vote on the pivotal legislations viz. unemployment benefit extension and Medicare payments to doctors attending to seniors and disabled patients are adding to the national debt crisis rather than alleviating the taxpayers’ burden.

GOP Senators and the Democrats aligning with the Republican members in the voting process are miscalculating the fiscal ramifications and the inevitable political price for their decisions.

It’s essential for the victims in these two vital legislations to distinguish between those who represent the people from the ones’ sworn allegiance to the special interests – health insurance industry and the likes.

Please remember that ‘Change is made possible by the people.’

For the voters have the ultimate power in a democracy.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant


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