* Mr. Speaker, I rise today to voice my support for Medicare and to once again state my strong opposition to the Republican budget plan introduced by Mr. Ryan of Wisconsin. This plan would end Medicare as we know it.
* Medicare is a program that Americans pay into their entire working lives and expect to benefit from when they retire. Unfortunately, House Republicans continue to support a proposal that would strip away the guaranteed benefits under Medicare. Their plan calls for Medicare to be replaced from a program of guaranteed benefits to one in which seniors would be given a voucher to purchase insurance from an insurance company.
* As if this were not bad enough, the vouchers this plan proposes to give Medicare enrollees would in no way keep up with the rising costs of health care. Therefore, enrollees would be saddled with more and more out-of-pocket expenses over time.
* The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office Congress's official actuary projected that these vouchers could actually double out-of-pocket costs for the average beneficiary in the short-term and triple them in the long-term. This is something that I am adamantly opposed to and will fight against it taking place.
* Now, to be clear, these changes would not affect current enrollees but it would affect the next generation of retirees including many of our children and grandchildren. But the Republican plan would immediately strip away all the benefits seniors stand to gain and perhaps already are enjoying from the health care law enacted last year.
* The health care law is already closing the Medicare Part D coverage gap--known as the ``Donut Hole''--providing for free preventive care to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and ensuring that America's seniors have access to the care they need.
* The health care law also provides free preventive care for Medicare enrollees care that is often critical to helping you and your doctor diagnose and treat diseases or ailments as soon as possible. But the repeal of the health care law included in the Republican budget plan would change all this under the guise of ``deficit reduction.''
* But the reality is that none of the cuts would help pay down the deficit OR balance the budget. These cuts would instead pay for tax cuts to those who need it the least providing subsidies to Big Oil preserving tax loopholes to companies that ship jobs overseas all this while they are making record profits. Tax cuts for Big Oil and the largest corporations should not be paid for on the backs of America's seniors!
* And this kind-of thinking does not reflect the needs or priorities of seniors and families in my district. I have heard from scores of Sacramentans about how the changes to Medicare included in the health care law has helped them. One gentleman in particular comes to mind. Gary, who takes 8 different name brand medications, regularly falls into the ``Donut Hole.'' But as a result of the health care law, he will save close to $1,000 per month which means that Gary will be able to continue to take his medication, and make ends meet. And his savings will only grow over time. However, people like Gary would lose out on this benefit, should the Republican proposal be enacted.
* As Co-Chair of the Congressional Seniors Task Force, I am working with my colleagues to ensure that proposals that would hurt seniors are not enacted. I believe that if someone works hard all their life and plays by the rules then they deserve high-quality health care and a secure retirement. I am committed to making that dream a reality and I am confident that as more and more people learn about what this plan would do the American people will speak out against it loud and clear.
* I thank Representative Tonko for his leadership on this issue.