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Mrs. CAPPS. Mr. Chair, I rise today in strong opposition to the Majority's misguided budget.
Forty-seven years ago, when seniors were the most uninsured group in our nation, we made a promise that their health care would be guaranteed.
Because of that promise, tens of millions of older Americans have been assured of quality, affordable health care and a life of dignity.
Because of that promise, tens of millions of Americans have avoided bankruptcy and upended lives trying to find a way to ensure they or their aging parents receive the medical care they need and deserve.
But the Majority's budget seeks to break that promise by ending Medicare as we know it.
There are a host of problems with this proposal:
Instead of a guarantee of health care seniors would get a fixed amount voucher to help them partially pay for an insurance policy, assuming they can find one.
And given that the Majority also seeks to repeal the law that outlaws preexisting condition exclusions, as well as annual and lifetime coverage limits, there is no guarantee a senior would be able to find a plan, much less an affordable one.
This voucher would be for a fixed amount, meaning it would be worth less and less with each passing year.
In California, this would mean seniors' out of pocket costs would rise by at least $6,000 each year.
The bill would also raise Medicare's eligibility age, delaying the promise of a sound retirement for millions of working Americans.
This would mean over 5 million Californians would face the struggle of finding and paying for health care for 2 more years before they even qualify for the limited promise of care of the Majority's voucher program.
In addition to ending Medicare, the Ryan budget would whack away at the Medicaid program, which provides long term care for indigent seniors and the disabled.
Medicaid funding would drop and the responsibilities would be pushed onto the states, where seniors and persons with disabilities would have no assurances of coverage.
Anyone who has seen what has happened to state budgets across the country over the last few years should be under no illusions that hard pressed states won't cut Medicaid funding in tough times--they are doing it today!
Mr. Chair, my colleagues promoting this plan to end Medicare and slash Medicaid have argued that it's really the only choice we have.
They will argue that health care costs are bankrupting our nation and we simply have to make these changes in order to bring down our deficit to manageable levels.
And they will argue that these changes don't affect seniors today, only those off in some distant future.
None of those arguments hold water.
First, we do need to address our deficit and that means getting health care costs under control.
But their plan doesn't bring down health care costs--it just shifts those costs onto the backs of our nation's seniors.
Second, it is stunning that their plan again puts the onus for deficit reduction completely on seniors and working Americans, while providing huge tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations.
Under this budget, no sacrifice is too large to ask of our nation's seniors and any sacrifice is too much to ask of our nation's most well off.
Third, this plan will affect today's seniors.
For example, it repeals important benefits--like access to free preventive screenings and annual wellness physicals--that seniors are already enjoying under Obamacare.
These benefits would be taken away from almost 60,000 seniors in my district.
The Ryan plan would also reopen the infamous ``donut hole,'' immediately increasing annual prescription drug costs for millions of seniors.
This would affect over 6,000 seniors in my district immediately and cost them hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars each and every year.
And finally, the Ryan plan would weaken Medicare as the voucher program draws off healthier seniors and leaves behind the oldest and sickest, thereby undercutting the financial stability of the program.
I can already hear the calls that would come saying we just can't afford traditional Medicare.
Adopting this plan will cause untold harm to our nations' seniors and to the millions and millions of American families who today rely on Medicare for the promise of quality, affordable health care.
We made a promise--a promise that is working for millions of American seniors and their families.
We cannot break that promise.
I urge my colleagues to oppose this legislation.
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