Ms. PINGREE of Maine. Mr. Speaker, in the past few weeks, the phones in my office have been ringing off the hook. The message from my constituents is clear: Please don't touch Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security. Some are angry, and some are tearful. All are sick with worry over the threat of losing benefits they have earned and depend on. Sadly, these effective programs have become targets for those who would balance the Federal budget on the backs of seniors and the middle class rather than restoring tax rates for millionaires. It's unthinkable, and it's unfair. I plan to do everything I can to protect these critical programs because they work.
When Medicare started 45 years ago, a third of our seniors lived in poverty; half had no health care coverage. Today the poverty rate for seniors has been slashed, and nearly all of our seniors have access to quality care. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, seniors won't have to worry about paying for preventative care or falling into the prescription drug doughnut hole. After working hard their entire lives, seniors should be able to feel confident that the system they faithfully paid into will be there for them when they need it most.