The political action committee of the Texas Medical Association, furious about a Thursday night vote on a Medicare-funding bill, is going to rescind its endorsement of Sen. John Cornyn's reelection bid, association spokesman Brent Annear said.
Cornyn and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison voted to stall a bill that would have prevented a 10 percent cut in Medicare funding for physicians, prompting an unusually harsh reaction from the medical association, which has 43,000 members and is one of the most powerful trade groups in Texas politics.
The two Republican senators say they wanted a 30-day extension that would have prevented the cuts, which are scheduled to take effect July 1.
UPDATE: Meant to include Noriega's statement on Cornyn's vote - it's beneath the fold.
Republican incumbent John Cornyn's deciding vote against cloture last night on H.R. 6331 the "Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008" is another example of Cornyn's misplaced priorities - putting special interests over Texas seniors - said Rick Noriega today.Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 27, 2008 to Election 2008
"Today's vote is simply unconscionable. John Cornyn's vote has jeopardized access to health care for thousands of elderly Texans," Noriega said. According to the Texas Medical Association, 58 percent of Texas physicians will have no choice but to limit the number of new Medicare patients they treat. Noriega said Cornyn's actions will force more and more physicians out of the Medicare program.
"Instead of standing up for Texas' patients and physicians to fix Medicare's flawed payment system, Cornyn has once again put partisan politics and the profits of private, for-profit Medicare HMOs ahead of the needs of Texas seniors."
The legislation which passed the House of Representatives on an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 355 to 59, would grant an 18-month reprieve from the 10.6-percent Medicare physician payment cuts scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2008. The bill would pay for the reprieve by eliminating subsidies to for-profit Medicare Advantage plans. Cornyn's vote single-handedly killed the bill last night in the Senate.
"Why would Senator Cornyn defend the practice of paying more money for a medical service to a private HMO than to the physician performing the service?" said Holly Shulman, press secretary of the Rick Noriega campaign. "This vote proves once again that John Cornyn is nothing more than a shill for the big insurance companies that are funding his campaign."
Noriega added, "Senator Cornyn has shown a consistent pattern of callous disregard, voting against the health of Texas' Veterans, Texas' children and Texas' elderly. Texas needs a Senator who will fight for access to quality health care and stand up against the health insurance companies and special interests."