Today marks the 45th Anniversary of one of the most successful programs every created in this country. Medicare provides guaranteed, affordable health care for 39 million of our nation's seniors, including 110,000 seniors in western Wisconsin. Not only did Democrats create Medicare, but they have also fought vigorously to protect, preserve and strengthen Medicare benefits.
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As important as this program is, my colleagues across the aisle have continually tried to destroy it. Most recently, Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's plan would do away with traditional Medicare for everyone under age 55 and replace it with a voucher program - forcing seniors to find health care for themselves, re-opening the donut hole, and doubling out of pocket health expenses. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) states that the GOP plan would cause seniors to "bear a much larger share of their health care costs than they would under the traditional program" and would increase the typical senior's costs by more than $6000. I reject this approach.
Just as Medicare has been kept secure for the last 45 years, it can be kept secure for years to come. The Affordable Care Act works to improve our health care delivery system so that all health care, including guaranteed Medicare benefits, is more integrated, coordinated, and patient-focused. To reduce health care costs, we don't need to make dramatic cuts to Medicare that destroy the program as we know it; we need to reform our health care system to pay for the value of care given and not the volume of care. This is how health care providers in Wisconsin are providing better care at a better price. And this is how we can increase efficiency and ensure affordable health care coverage for years to come.