New Senate Aging Committee Tackles Future of Medicare in Hearing
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fl) takes over as chairman; Sen.
Susan Collins (R-Me) now leads Republicans (see members below news
Chairman Bill Nelson
Ranking Member Susan Collins
Feb. 26, 2013 – The first hearing by the
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
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
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 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.
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
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.
• 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
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
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
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.
Senator Collins serves on the Senate
Appropriations Committee, the Select Committee on
Intelligence, and as Ranking Member of the Special Committee