Washington, D.C.–Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor on the Republican plan to kill Medicare. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
This vote is about more than public policy. It is about priorities. It is about whether we hold fast to our values, or break our promises.
There is a lot wrong with the House Republican budget on which each Senator is about to cast a vote. But among the most irresponsible and indefensible ideas in it is the radical plan to end Medicare as we know it.
Doing so would break a solemn promise between our society and our seniors. It’s a promise that for more than four decades has saved seniors from poverty, illness and worse.
The promise of Medicare is this: if you work hard and contribute, America will make sure you are protected in retirement from the hardships of affording health care.
The Republican budget would break this promise. It would make life significantly more difficult and painful for America’s seniors. It’s as simple and as serious as that.
The Republican plan would kill Medicare. Even the conservative Wall Street Journal admitted this – even if most Republican Senators still refuse to face this reality.
Here’s what it would do: It would turn over seniors’ health to profit-hungry insurance companies. It would let bureaucrats decide what tests and treatments seniors get. And it would ask seniors to pay more for their health care – charging every senior $6,000 more every year – in exchange for fewer benefits. That’s a bad deal all around.
Those voting for this Republican plan would be forcing seniors in Nevada to pay more than twice as much as they pay today in out-of-pocket costs.
Those voting for the Republican plan to kill Medicare would be voting to re-open the doughnut hole that we closed to help seniors afford expensive prescription drugs. Opening the doughnut hole would send drug prices through the roof, costing 27,000 Nevada seniors thousands of dollars between now and the year 2020.
Those voting for the Republican plan to kill Medicare would also be forcing our seniors to pay almost a million dollars more for annual wellness visits. They would make it harder for seniors to access nursing homes and long-term care, and would make at least 34 million more Americans uninsured.
The Republican plan to kill Medicare was written in the name of saving money. But it costs seniors so much money, that it doesn’t even do that. One study found that seniors would spend $14 more for every dollar the government saves. That’s not effective economics – and it’s certainly not worth endangering the health of our seniors.
The Republican plan to kill Medicare is a plan that tries to balance the budget on the backs of America’s seniors. That is a clear window into the other party’s priorities. While it asks seniors pay more and more, it allows the wealthiest to pay less and less. It gives even more tax breaks to those who need it the least: oil companies, billionaires and multinational companies that ship jobs overseas.
It comes down to this: The Republican plan to kill Medicare is a plan to make the rich richer and the sick sicker.
A well-worn metaphor characterizes the Senate as a saucer – as the deliberative body that cools the intense heat and occasional zeal of the House of Representatives. In voting today down the radical Republican House-passed plan to end Medicare – in keeping our nation’s priorities straight and keeping our promise to our seniors – we are bringing our Founding Fathers’ image to life.