Congressman Bobby Schilling (IL-17) today released the following statement in honor of the 47th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid:
"As I travel around the district meeting with constituents, they are dismayed about the misleading information they have received from those seeking to score political points regarding House Republicans' plan to save, preserve, and protect Medicare.
"I view Medicare as a promise made to our seniors and am fighting to ensure this promise is kept.
"Unfortunately, the same folks who actually raided $500 billion from Medicare in the President's health care reform law are now misleading vulnerable seniors, trying to demonize our plan into something it's not.
"Enough is enough with these misleading campaigns from outside political groups. They are based on cynical, business-as-usual political scare tactics that incorrectly claim that the House of Representatives voted to "abolish" or "eliminate" Medicare.
"Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the non-partisan, Pulitzer Prize-winning publication Politifact has labeled this 2011's "Lie of the Year."
"Medicare as we know it is still here, and the budget proposal the House has voted on would not change that at all for those in or near retirement. I repeat: if you're 55 years of age or older, your Medicare will not be changed or disrupted if this budget blueprint is implemented.
"But Medicare is on an unsustainable fiscal path. While we must maintain the level of financial security it provides to today's seniors, its long-term fiscal challenges cannot and should not be ignored if we want to preserve it for our kids and grandkids.
"The reality is that more than 10,000 baby boomers retire every day. While four workers supported each Medicare beneficiary in 2000, that will drop to just over two workers by 2030. Preserving Medicare in any form for those 54 and younger will require some adjustments or the program will become insolvent and disappear for everyone.
"In their 2010 report, the Medicare trustees concluded that, on its current path, the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund's assets will be exhausted by 2029. However, in their 2011 report, the Medicare Trustees revealed that Medicare will become insolvent even sooner than previously expected -- by a full five years. In their 2012 report, they confirmed it yet again: at best, we have until 2024 before Medicare goes broke.
"This problem is real and the status quo is a recipe for disaster when it comes to ensuring Medicare's future. Lack of leadership or a plan -- in other words, letting Medicare collapse and fail -- is tantamount to congressional malpractice.
"My colleagues and I in the House refuse to stick our heads in the sand, and are putting forward the real solutions and honest leadership the American people deserve.
"Our proposal strengthens health and retirement security, taking power away from a board of government bureaucrats and empowering patients to control their health care. It repeals the health care law's unelected, unaccountable Independent Payment Advisory Board, which has the power to cut Medicare in ways that would raise costs and jeopardize seniors' access to care.
"Under our plan, when younger workers become eligible, Medicare will provide them with a premium-support payment and a list of guaranteed, approved coverage options. This way, they will have the freedom to pick the plan that best suits their needs. More assistance will be provided for those with lower incomes or greater health care needs, less for the wealthier and healthier.
"Giving Medicare beneficiaries the power to choose the plan that's best for them results in market competition, and serves as a real check and balance on waste, fraud, abuse, and rising health care costs.
"Enough is enough with the misleading MediScare protest campaigns. Enough is enough with our out-of-control federal spending. Enough is enough with the status quo; with passing on the difficult decisions to the next generation.
"The House has serious, bipartisan solutions to ensure that Medicare is available to America's seniors for another 47 years, but we will need help from the Senate and the Administration to ensure that Medicare will be able to deliver on its promise to seniors today and for future generations."