Medicare: right to purchase unrationed insurance
Domenici Motion
Senate Roll Call No. 122
105th Congress, 1st Session

Agreed to: 62-37 (see complete tally)
Medicare is the program under which government health insurance is provided to older people and some people with disabilities. Because of the coming retirement of the "baby boom" generation, it is clear that under present projections, in the future the amount of funds the government will provide for each Medicare beneficiary to cover health care will be substantially less than it pays out now (after taking medical inflation into account). That would require rationing of health care, including denial of payment for treatments necessary to save lives. Even if a Medicare beneficiary were willing to pay more to obtain unrationed care, this option had been closed off by federal law. As part of the Fiscal Year 1998 Balanced Budget Act (S. 947), the Senate Finance Committee approved a provision under which older Americans would be given the option of "private fee-for-service" Medicare plans, and the option of adding their own funds to government payments in order to get such plans. These plans would allow you to choose your own doctor or hospital, and would be able to set premiums at a rate that would avoid rationing. Under complex rules of procedure, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) was able to raise a point of order against this recommendation, but pro-life Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) was able to move that this point of order be "waived." Adoption of such a motion required 60 votes. Because NRLC regards government-imposed rationing of lifesaving health care as a form of involuntary euthanasia, it strongly supported the Domenici motion. A "no" vote was effectively a vote to force involuntary death on innumerable older Americans by making it impossible for them even to use their own money to obtain unrationed health insurance. A "yes" vote (the NRLC position) was a vote to permit older Americans at least to use their own money to escape such rationing. The Domenici motion prevailed, 62-37, Vote No. 122, June 25, 1997. Ultimately the pro-life Senate position also prevailed in negotiations with the House and President Clinton, and was enacted as part of S. 947.

Vote Map: Senate Roll Call No. 122
Votes For : 62
Votes Against : 37
Not Voting : 1

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