46th Anniversary of Medicare
Recently, we marked the 46th anniversary of when the Medicare program was enacted. President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law on July 30, 1965.
Medicare has truly changed what it means to grow old in this country. We no longer have to worry that we will not have access to medical care in our old age. And we no longer have to worry our parents will go into poverty to pay for their medical bills -- or that we will have to go broke caring for our parents.
In 1964, only 51 percent of Americans over 65 had health care coverage -- whereas today, because of Medicare, coverage is virtually universal. In addition, the creation of Medicare has played a role in the poverty rate among seniors dropping dramatically. Nearly 30 percent of seniors lived below the poverty line in 1964 -- and that number has dropped to 7.5 percent.
As we celebrate that success, we are reminded that House Republicans want deep cuts to Medicare and to replace it with a voucher system. In this time of great need, they voted to slash the program that has worked well for 46 years. I agree that we need to strengthen Medicare so that it will be there for future generations, but gutting the program is not the way to do it.
Currently, Medicare provides comprehensive health care coverage to 47 million Americans, including 39 million seniors and 8 million people under 65 with disabilities. Medicare is also enormously popular with seniors and people with disabilities -- with Medicare beneficiaries more satisfied with their coverage than Americans with private insurance. Medicare provides a guaranteed set of benefits and affordable premiums.
$1.4 Million in Awards for Local School-Based Health Centers
Last month, I applauded the announcement of more than $1.4 million for area school-based health centers. The Department of Health and Human Services, along with the Department of Education, today announced Family Health Centers of San Diego, Inc. was awarded $500,000; La Maestra Family Clinic was awarded $406,733; and the National City based Operation Samahan, Inc. was awarded $493,885.
Our students cannot excel in school if their health-care needs aren't being met. We cannot expect students with untreated health problems to be able to concentrate in class. These funds will go a long way to help students meet their potential.
The funds were allocated by the Department of Health and Human Services through the Affordable Care Act which authorized $200 million through 2013 for the School-Based Health Center Capital Program. Applicants can be either a school-based health center or a sponsoring facility of a school-based health center. The funds announced today are the first in a series of awards that will be made available.
Satellite Patent Office for San Diego
I recently joined my San Diego colleagues in calling on the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to support a proposal to establish a USPTO Satellite Office in San Diego.
San Diego is home to the greatest leaders in science, technology and cutting edge research institutes. Having a satellite office here would help support our innovators, create new jobs and help get our economy back on track.
The USPTO is in the first phase of its Nationwide Workforce Program, an effort to hire more patent examiners and seek out additional resources and technical expertise in locations across the country. The USPTO is in the process of opening a satellite office in Detroit, Michigan. Following initial steps forward with this very first satellite office, the USPTO will begin considering expanding the program, which would provide the patent applicant community and our Nation's innovators greater access to the USPTO and the services it offers.
State Laws Are a Clear Violation of Voting Rights Act
I recently expressed my concerns about highly restrictive state voter photo identification laws to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. I requested that the Attorney General exercise the full power of the Department of Justice to review these voter identification bills and scrutinize their implementation so citizens' voting rights are not jeopardized.
Voting is the foundation of our democracy and these new state laws are a clear violation of the Voting Rights Act. Many of these state laws have only one true goal, the disenfranchisement of eligible voters--especially the elderly, students, minorities, and low-income voters.
Studies consistently estimate that approximately 11 percent of voting-age citizens in the country--or more than 20 million individuals--lack a government-issued photo ID. Highly restrictive photo identification requirements will make it more difficult for well-intentioned voters to cast their ballot and discourages specific communities from exercising their constitutional right to vote.
Students Appointed to U.S. Military Academies
I recently congratulated students embarking on their careers in the military. I nominated the students who were informed of their appointments to one of the U.S. Military Academies. From left, Christopher Maligsa (Naval Academy), James Magno (Naval Academy),Ivan Martinez (West Point), Congressman Filner, Elizabeth Maldonado (Air Force Academy) and Michael Crawford (Naval Academy).
Constituent Mail Bag
From San Diego:
I became aware that some policy makers are considering increasing the Federal Excise tax on air travelers and airlines and doubling several other governmental fee from a news story. Another proposal under consideration would add a new $35 takeoff tax to every ticket that airline companies pocket and profit from.
I object to these increases and corporations making millions from the public who, like myself, are struggling to make ends meet in this rough economic time.
Congressman Filner replies:
Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns about proposed changes to airline taxes and fees.
As you may know, the authorization for FAA programs has expired putting 90,000 private sector workers and 3600 FAA employees out of work. My Democratic colleagues and I have introduced legislation that would reauthorize FAA programs (H.R. 2644) and put these Americans back to work.
I hope you will be pleased to know that our bill would not make any changes to the existing airline taxes and fees.
Useful Website: Benefits.gov
Benefits.gov helps citizens determine what government services or programs best meet their needs. Completely anonymous, Benefits.gov helps users access benefit eligibility information through a free, confidential, and easy-to-use screening tool. It asks basic questions about an individual's current situation, and then generates a customized report listing the benefit programs for which the individual may be eligible.