U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow tonight voted against the Republican budget plan to end Medicare for seniors. If passed, the G.O.P. plan would force seniors to purchase insurance from private insurance companies and would mean that the average Michigan senior would pay $6,880 more every year in out-of-pocket health care expenses.
"Balancing the budget on the backs of seniors is wrong," said Sen. Stabenow. "By ending Medicare, the Republican plan will put control of seniors' health decisions in the hands of insurance company bureaucrats and force the average Michigan senior to pay almost $7,000 more out-of-pocket every year for health care. At the same time they push to end Medicare, Republicans are blocking a bill I've cosponsored to cut tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer giveaways for oil companies making record profits. These priorities are absolutely upside down."
Earlier this month, Senator Stabenow held a roundtable in Michigan with seniors to hear their thoughts on plans to reduce the deficit through Medicare. Seniors at the Oakland County roundtable were strongly opposed to the Republican plan to end Medicare.
Jerry Bixby, Troy resident said: "Like the majority of Americans I oppose privatizing Medicare. The plan passed in the House would slash benefits literally throwing millions of Americans into poverty and destitution for the rest of their shortened lives because they will not get proper medical care in their twilight years. Such a plan would be one giant step backwards!"
Penny Adams, Rochester resident said: "Nearly everyone our age has a pre-existing condition. To send any of us out equipped only with a voucher to negotiate affordable health insurance with private insurers is an appalling proposal to make. Most Medicare participants are on a fixed income and will be unable to deal effectively with a profit-hungry commercial insurance industry."
Joanne Braund, Royal Oak resident said: "I feel that the House plan will destroy Medicare which is so important to seniors in the United States. The health insurance industry will see this as an opportunity to raise prices to the point that seniors will not be able to get the care they need."
The Republican budget taken up in the Senate tonight (also known as the "Ryan budget" after Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan) would end Medicare as American seniors have known it for decades and instead make seniors shop for costly health insurance plans on the private market. This same Republican plan passed the House on April 15th.
According to non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation, the Republican plan would cause out-of-pocket health care costs for Michigan seniors to double from the current average of $6,658 to $13,538.72, an increase of $6,880.26.
The Republican plan would also reinstate the Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage gap (also known as the Medicare "donut-hole"), forcing seniors to pay more for their prescription drugs. In Michigan, nearly 100,000 (97,766) seniors would be forced to pay a total of $55 million in drug costs next year, $1.1 billion over the next 10 years. The coverage gap refers to the fact that when Medicare Part D was created, those whose annual drug costs fell between $2,700 $4,350 did not receive prescription drug coverage through Medicare, while those who had less than $2,700 or more than $4,350 did receive coverage. Last year legislation was passed and signed by President Obama to eliminate the illogical coverage gap over time, but the Republican budget would have reinstated it.