Pete Stark crows, dings McCain on Medicare vote

House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark, D-Fremont, had this to say about the U.S. Senate’s 69-30 passage today of H.R. 6331, the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008, which he and Senate Finance Committee Max Baucus had highlighted earlier this week:

“Today, with a veto-proof majority, the Senate joined with the overwhelmingly bipartisan majority of the House to pass legislation that averts a 10 percent pay cut for physicians, makes modest beneficiary improvements to Medicare, and is financed by reining in the Medicare Advantage program. H.R. 6331 is the minimum that we should do to protect and maintain Medicare. America’s senior citizens and doctors helped reluctant Republican Senators understand that as well.

“Senator Kennedy managed to make it back from treatment for cancer, but Senator McCain couldn’t be bothered. Senator McCain, who wants to be our next President, has skipped this vote three times now. Clearly, he’d rather hide than face up to the insurance industry. You can do that when you’re in the U.S. Senate, maybe voters should leave him there.”

UPDATE @ 3:44 P.M. WEDNESDAY: Now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, is piling on too…

“The Senate’s vote today is a remarkable testament to the powerful voice of America’s seniors, who made it clear that they would not allow the Bush Administration’s stubborn insistence on bloated, unnecessary subsidies for insurance companies stand in the way of quality, affordable, and reliable health care under Medicare.

“I join our Senate colleagues in welcoming back Senator Ted Kennedy, who was able to vote for this legislation despite his courageous battle against cancer. His vote today demonstrates his unwavering and remarkable commitment to one of his top priorities – improving health care in this country. That stands in stark contrast to the one senator who missed today’s vote, Senator John McCain.

“The overwhelming and bipartisan votes in the House and the Senate – both by veto-proof margins – send a clear message to President Bush that our efforts to strengthen Medicare for our seniors should become law, with or without his signature.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.