Today, Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), dean of the Massachusetts delegation, and the entire Massachusetts House delegation called on President Obama to preserve funding for Medicare and Medicaid during negotiations to raise the debt ceiling. In a letter sent today to President Obama, Rep. Markey and all nine members of the Massachusetts House delegation write, "While we fully appreciate the difficult financial choices confronting you during these negotiations, the severity of the cuts proposed by congressional Republicans would devastate these essential healthcare programs to the detriment of the millions of seniors, children and people with disabilities who depend on them."
Under the proposed Republican plan to end Medicare, seniors would pay more for their healthcare. In the first year of the plan alone, seniors would have to pay an extra $540 per month for their healthcare. A 54-year old today will have to save an additional $182,000 before they retire to make up for the additional costs they'll face under the Republican plan. Medicaid provides vital healthcare services for 60 million Americans -- including 1.4 million in Massachusetts. This includes seniors who need nursing home care, poor children who need to see a doctor, and young adults with traumatic brain injury, an intellectual disability, or severe mental illness requiring long-term care. The proposed GOP plan would slash more than $700 billion from this program, leaving states with no option but to reduce eligibility, cut benefits, or slash payments to healthcare providers
"Republicans have "Deficit Attention Disorder' -- they only pay attention to the deficit when they want to dismantle Medicare, Medicaid and programs on which middle-class Americans rely," said Rep. Markey. "If the G.O.P. were truly serious about cutting the federal deficit, they would be voting in support of ending tax breaks for billionaires and the most profitable oil companies -- not ending Medicare and eviscerating Medicaid and the programs that help children, Grandma and Grandpa, and the disabled. I will continue to fight against the Republican plan to slash these bedrock programs, ensuring that low-income children, seniors, and people with disabilities are not left behind."
"Never has there been a time in our nation's recent history when we needed Medicare and Medicaid more," said Rep. William Keating. "With so many seniors and families still feeling the economic burdens from the great recession, to eliminate these vital programs would be devastating to them. Just this week, I held a Medicare townhall and the comment I kept hearing over and over was our need to protect and preserve Medicare. Yes, we need to make smart, targeted changes to both programs, but those changes shouldn't equal elimination, as our Republican colleagues are proposing."
"Thousands of Fifth District residents rely on Medicare and Medicaid to meet their health care needs every day," said Rep. Niki Tsongas. "As budget negotiations continue, it is essential that the President and Congressional leaders preserve and protect these essential programs and do not bring our budget into balance at the expense of critical health care services for our most vulnerable seniors and children."
"We should be searching for ways to strengthen and preserve Medicare and Medicaid -- not destroy them," said Rep. Jim McGovern. "What our Republican colleagues have proposed is reckless, thoughtless and heartless. We can and we much do better."
"We understand that difficult decisions must be made to address our deficit, but the Republican proposed changes to Medicare and Medicaid will have devastating consequences for the programs and limit access for the many people who rely on them," said Rep. Michael Capuano. "Restricting eligibility and reducing benefits to our most vulnerable is not the answer. As you continue negotiations on how to address the debt ceiling, please keep these essential programs in mind."
"Before the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, half of senior citizens in this country were without healthcare coverage or long term care options, and nearly a third of seniors lived below the poverty line," said Congressman John Olver. "Over the past 46 years, these programs have brought seniors out of poverty and given them a sense of security as they age. As we continue to discuss ways to preserve and strengthen our nation, we must remember that for many seniors these programs are truly invaluable."
"Effectively ending Medicare and Medicaid, as the Republican bill proposes to do, would have a devastating impact on our seniors and our families," said Rep. John Tierney. "Seniors are rightfully scared that such current efforts would eliminate their health care options and put insurance company bureaucrats in the way of their personal relationships with their doctors. While difficult choices must be made in our budget negotiations, we need not and should not devastate these effective and necessary programs that serve our seniors and other vulnerable citizens."
"While we can all agree that we need to reduce spending, we should not balance our budget on the backs of our senior citizens and the most vulnerable Americans. We need to take a balanced approach to deficit reduction while Medicare and Medicaid must be preserved," said Rep. Stephen F. Lynch.