Senate Democrats

Senate Dems Call For Republican Plan To End Medicare To Be Taken Off The Table In Debt Talks

Despite the Public’s Overwhelming Rejection of the Proposal, Republican Leaders Continue Insisting Their Plan to Dismantle Medicare Be Part of Agreement to Avoid Default on Nation’s Debt

Republicans’ Reckless Plan Would Jeopardize Seniors’ Current Benefits and Double Their Out-of-Pocket Costs, Leaving Them At The Mercy Of Private Insurance Companies

In Letter to Vice President Biden, Senators Bill Nelson, Cardin, Brown, McCaskill and Tester Urge “Unwavering Opposition” to Medicare-Ending Proposal During Deficit Discussions

Washington, DC— Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Jon Tester (D-MT) today called for Republicans to take the House-passed plan to dismantle Medicare off the table in bipartisan deficit reduction talks. In a letter to Vice President Joe Biden, who is leading these discussions, the senators urged the administration to continue to oppose any GOP efforts to insert their plan to dismantle Medicare into a deficit reduction package.

“As the working group moves beyond areas of consensus and into parts of the budget that will require the toughest choices, we wish to identify in advance one proposal that we cannot support in any form—the House-passed plan to dismantle Medicare,” the senators wrote.

“For the good of the nation’s seniors, it must remain off the table,” the senators continued.

Despite the public’s overwhelming rejection of the GOP proposal to dismantle Medicare, many Republican leaders are insisting that the plan be part of a package to lower the debt.  House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan recently declared that the plan to dismantle Medicare is “part of the debt ceiling talks.” And last week, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell echoed that it is “on the table.”  Further, the House majority recently reaffirmed its commitment to this plan through the adoption of a rule that declares the House-passed budget shall have “force and effect.”

Numerous reports have revealed the devastating impact the GOP’s Medicare-ending budget would have on the nation’s seniors.  Across the country, the GOP’s reckless plan would cost 2 million private sector jobs over the next five years and increase seniors’ out-of-pocket health care costs by $6,359 in 2022 – more than double what they would otherwise pay.  Analyses also show that starting next year if the GOP plan is law, nearly four million seniors nationwide will be forced to pay $2.2 billion more in prescription drug costs, and at least one million seniors will have to pay more than $110 million more for annual wellness visits in 2012.

The senators called the GOP plan to end Medicare unacceptable, saying: “Our nation’s seniors are not responsible for the fiscal challenges we face, and they should not be responsible for shouldering the burden of reducing our deficits.”

A copy of the letter appears below.

The White House

Vice President Joe Biden

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

First Floor, West Wing

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Vice President Biden,

It has come to our attention that the bipartisan working group you are leading is making considerable progress in identifying ways to reduce the deficit. We are encouraged by the progress being made in these negotiations and stand ready to work with you towards the passage of a responsible deficit reduction package that will set our nation on a healthy fiscal course.

But as the working group moves beyond areas of consensus and into parts of the budget that will require the toughest choices, we wish to identify in advance one proposal that we cannot support in any form—the House-passed plan to dismantle Medicare.

As you know, the House-passed budget would end Medicare as we know it by destroying the guaranteed-benefit system and instead requiring seniors to enter the private insurance market. Despite the public’s overwhelming rejection of this proposal, and even after the Senate vote against it, many top congressional leaders are now saying they want the plan included as part of a package to reduce the deficit. Just last week, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan declared that the plan to dismantle Medicare is “part of the debt ceiling talks.” Then on Sunday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell echoed that it is “on the table.”

This proposal would never pass Congress on its own, and it does not belong in a larger deal either. It would be devastating for America’s seniors, who would see their out-of-pocket costs for health care double and the benefits they currently enjoy jeopardized.  Under this risky proposal, insurance company bureaucrats would decide what care seniors get.

We are aware the administration has rejected this proposal since its passage by the House, and we applaud your efforts to educate the American people about its serious implications. We encourage you to remain unwavering in opposition to this scheme. For the good of the nation’s seniors, it must remain off the table.

We share the goal of ensuring the long-term health of Medicare. We hope to identify delivery system reforms and other sources of savings that can extend the life of Medicare in its current form. But we will never allow any effort to dismantle the program and force benefit cuts upon seniors under the guise of deficit reduction.  Our nation’s seniors are not responsible for the fiscal challenges we face, and they should not be responsible for shouldering the burden of reducing our deficits.

Thank you again for your leadership in these budget talks and for your continued work standing up on behalf of the nation’s seniors.

Sincerely,

Senator Bill Nelson

Senator Ben Cardin

Senator Sherrod Brown

Senator Claire McCaskill

Senator Jon Tester

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