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Medicare Doesn’t Need to Be Sacrificed to Solve our Budget Woes


Carolyn Maloney  –  U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th District
Posted: 06/30/11 04:39 PM ET

Forty-five years ago today, when the Medicare program was launched, only 51% of Americans 65 and older had health coverage and nearly 30% of seniors lived below the poverty line despite the fact that social security had been in existence for thirty years. Today, the situation is vastly improved, thanks to the overwhelming success of Medicare. Virtually all Americans aged 65 and over have health care coverage, only 7.5% of seniors live below the poverty line and life expectancy has risen significantly.

Despite the success and popularity of the program, Republicans have never liked Medicare. They spent 13 years blocking the passage of legislation to create it. When it was finally adopted in 1965, one representative stated: “We cannot stand idly by now, as the nation is urged to embark on an ill-conceived adventure in government medicine.” Ever since then, it has served as a punching bag for Republicans determined to destroy it. When he was Speaker, Newt Gingrich boasted that Republicans “didn’t get rid of [Medicare] in round one because we don’t think that’s politically smart…But we believe it’s going to wither on the vine.” Republicans in Congress are now pushing to end Medicare as we know it, reduce benefits and raise health care costs for seniors.

In April, House Republicans adopted a budget that would replace Medicare with a voucher system that would cover only a fraction of the cost of private insurance. Under this plan, seniors would face reduced benefits and crippling out-of-pocket increases. The Republican bill would:

• Increase health care costs for the typical senior by more than $6,000 per year.

• Require seniors by 2030 to pay 68% of their health care costs, with the voucher covering only 32%.

• Eliminate provisions of the Affordable Care Act that closed the Medicare prescription drug plan’s donut hole – forcing seniors with high prescription drug costs to continue to pay out-of-pocket a significant portion of their costs.

• Make no guarantee that seniors would have the same level of benefits or choice of doctor that they currently enjoy under Medicare.

It is hard to understand why Republicans are rushing to force the oldest and most vulnerable among us to pay much higher costs for health care, but refuse to close tax loopholes that benefit Big Oil or corporate jet owners. And it is even harder to understand why Republicans would want to destroy a program that has substantially improved the quality of life of millions of seniors and people with disabilities. Republicans are seeking to place far too much of the burden on the backs of seniors, children and the disadvantaged. This is just not the way to resolve Medicare’s problems.

Medicare has been amended numerous times over the last 45 years to strengthen the program and insure its solvency. Most recently, changes adopted under the Affordable Care Act extended the program’s solvency for an additional eight years. And there is no reason that we cannot enact other changes to keep it solvent for many years to come.

Today as we celebrate the success of Medicare, we should pledge to take all steps necessary to preserve it. Rather than replace Medicare, as some Republicans urge, we should work together to make sure that Medicare will be there for future generations.

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About tenthltr2u (1036 Articles)
A child of the 60's I often feel out of place in the world as it exist today. Too much excess, too much materialism, too few people who genuinely care or give a damn. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. Antoine de Saint-Exupery

4 Comments on Medicare Doesn’t Need to Be Sacrificed to Solve our Budget Woes

  1. Offering the latest tough-love strategy to reduce the nations debt a panel of high-profile Republicans and Democrats on Wednesday recommended that Medicare beneficiaries pick up far more of their health care costs and the government substantially curb the amount both Medicare and Medicaid programs can grow in future years. In addition starting in 2018 traditional Medicare would be turned into a premium support program that would limit the rate of increase of federal spending per beneficiary to one percent above the growth rate of the economy.

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  2. But it probably will

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  3. Stop the 270 billion Medicare cut. Even in staunchly conservative Orange County where Republicans have the hearts and minds of voters the question looms Will the countys 347 000 elderly citizens buy the Republican Medicare potion?Local congressmen say they will.With the angle that they are saving the 30-year-old Medicare program from bankruptcy and balancing the federal budget at the same time the congressmen are touting the Republican prescription for Medicare Cut the growth in the programs costs or risk an insolvency that will cost even more seven years from now.Rising health costs and an expanding elderly population are sacking Medicare which serves 35 million elderly people nationwide.Republicans want to cut the growth in the programs costs now rising at 10 a year to 6.5 generating savings of 270 billion. The Senate plan also would raise the eligibility age from 65 to 67 between 2003 and 2027 and would allow seniors to pocket up to 75 of the savings in cash if they joined health maintenance organizations or other plans that cost Medicare less.Critics have attacked the GOP saying the Houses blueprint did not specify how the 270 billion in savings would be met and who would be expected to pick up additional costs and suggesting the motive behind the Republicans efforts is come up with more savings to finance a tax cut for the wealthy.Republicans dismiss the charges and have begun selling their program to seniors.

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  4. Furious that Steeles so-called committed the GOP to no cuts to Medicare the Congressional Republicans told their chairman to quit meddling in policy. Of course given their fury should come as no surprise…Beyond his almost daily run of the mill buffoonery the leading lights among the Capitol Hill Republicans were apparently in their turf when it comes to scaring the bejesus out of the 46 million American seniors served by Medicare. While Mitch McConnell and company want to terrify the elderly about mythical benefits cuts they falsely claim President Obama will produce the GOP braintrust is even more terrified by in a Washington Post op-ed and August RNC ad calling for a Seniors Bill of Rights .. Lets agree in both parties that Congress should only consider health reform proposals that protect senior citizens. Zero. ..The response during a heated meeting last month was fast and furious ..The congressional leaders were particularly miffed that Steele had in late August unveiled a seniors health care bill of rights without consulting with them.

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