On Tuesday, I spoke about the urgent need to preserve Medicare and Social Security at the 2011 Aging in America Conference in San Francisco on the "Future of Aging Services in America." Last month, House Republicans voted to pass a budget to end Medicare as we know it and dramatically raise seniors' health costs. AARP stated the plan "rather than tackling skyrocketing health care costs, would simply shift these costs onto the backs of people in Medicare." I was proud to join every Democrat in the House in voting against this misguided plan.
* Everyone currently under age 55 would not be enrolled in Medicare, but would be forced to buy private insurance with a voucher that decreases in value each year.
* Would more than double a typical senior's health care costs in 2022 -- increasing out-of-pocket health costs by more than $6,000, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
* Immediately raises health care costs for seniors, who would face higher prescription drug costs as they end health reform's provisions closing the "donut hole' by 2020. And, they eliminate the new free preventive care benefit under Medicare, including the free annual wellness visit.
Social Security and Medicare are solemn pledges to our seniors -- a promise of a safe and secure source of retirement income and health care for Americans. Protecting Social Security and Medicare is among my top priorities.