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Sep 23, 2009 1:30 PM by Associated Press

Senators spar over health care bill's effect on seniors

The second day of the Senate Finance Committee's debate over health-care legislation is off to a slow start.

Republicans and Democrats are arguing over whether the bill would hurt seniors.

Republicans contended that $500 billion in proposed cuts to Medicare providers over a decade would surely reduce patients' benefits. Democrats say it would do no such thing. Republicans are pushing amendments meant to block the bill's proposed changes to Medicare. Arizona Republican Jon Kyl says it's "disingenuous" to say Congress can cut that much spending from Medicare without adversely affecting seniors' care.

Chairman Max Baucus disputes that, saying it's Kyl's amendment that would hurt seniors. Baucus says the underlying bill would reduce health care costs.

The argument over Medicare follows hours of discussion on a GOP amendment seeking to make the bill's language public ahead of a vote. The amendment failed narrowly, but it showed that Republicans will test Baucus' goal of getting the legislation through his committee by the end of this week.

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