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New Senate Aging Committee Tackles Future of Medicare in Hearing Wednesday

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fl) takes over as chairman; Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me) now leads Republicans (see members below news story)

Chairman Bill Nelson

Ranking Member Susan Collins

Feb. 26, 2013 – The first hearing by the Senate Special Committee on Aging will convene tomorrow in hopes of finding the best way to shape the future of Medicare to meet the challenges of a booming senior population, climbing prices for health care and a strained federal budget. It is the first hearing under new chairman, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fl), and ranking member, Sen. Susan M. Collins (R-Me).

A news release from the committee says, ”Nelson wants to the committee examine ways to strengthen and protect Medicare without reducing benefits or shifting costs to seniors.”

It also quoted Sen. Nelson as saying, “There are many good ways to strengthen Medicare that I believe most folks can agree on.”

Congress remains divided over ways to shore up the federal health insurance program that covers 48 million seniors and disabled Americans. While some lawmakers have proposed turning Medicare into a voucher-type system, recent polling suggests most Americans strongly oppose significantly cutting or changing the program to reduce the deficit.

The committee will hear from a panel of health-care delivery experts on a number of ideas aimed at keeping Medicare costs under control by improving care.  Among other things, they include paying providers for quality of care instead of quantity of care and reducing costly and unnecessary hospital readmissions.


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Additionally, the committee will take testimony from the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation on their latest survey on the public’s attitude toward Medicare and efforts to reform it.  In January, the foundation found that 58 percent of Americans opposed Medicare spending cuts.

The committee's news release said Nelson is also likely to ask the panel about Medicare fraud and reducing prescription drug costs for seniors, additional areas for savings that he has long supported.

The hearing follows a two-day fact-finding tour Nelson concluded last week where he gathered ideas from some of his state’s best scientists, doctors and policy-makers on a wide-array of issues affecting the elderly.  Nelson assumed the chairmanship of the committee last month.

Senate Special Committee on Aging Hearing
“Strengthening Medicare for Today and the Future”
Wednesday, February 27,  3:00 p.m.
106 Dirksen Senate Office Building

• Juliette Cubanski, Ph.D., Associate Director, Medicare Policy Project, Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
• David Blumenthal, M.D., President, The Commonwealth Fund
• Kenneth E. Thorpe, PhD: Robert W. Woodruff Professor and Chair ,Department of Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University
• David Goodman, M.D., Director, Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and Co- Principal Investigator, Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care

Leadership, Members of Senate Special Committee on Aging

Astronaut Bill Nelson spent six days in 1986 orbiting the Earth aboard the space shuttle Columbia.

His political career began in 1972, with election to the Florida Legislature. He then served six terms in the U.S. Congress representing Orlando and the Space Coast, becoming an early champion of the environment.

In 1994, Nelson was elected to the Florida Cabinet as state Treasurer, Insurance Commissioner and Fire Marshal. During his six years in the post, he showed he was a common-sense problem solver and strong consumer advocate.

Nelson was first elected to the U.S. Senate in November 2000.

Senator Nelson is chairman of the Aging Committee, and a member of the U.S. Senate Budget, Commerce, Armed Services and Finance, committees.

Susan M. Collins was first elected to represent Maine in the United States Senate in 1996.

Known for her work in facilitating bipartisan compromise on important issues, Senator Collins is a key leader in the United States Congress.  Her record shows significant legislative accomplishments in critical areas, including homeland security, national defense, disaster response, education, business development and health care. 

On July 12, 2012, Senator Collins cast her 5,000th consecutive roll call vote.  She has never missed a roll call vote during her entire time in the U.S. Senate.

Senator Collins serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Select Committee on Intelligence, and as Ranking Member of the Special Committee on Aging. 

Committee Members












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