Today marks the 47th birthday of one of the most groundbreaking and important programs in our nation's history: Medicare. As a member of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, I have made it a high priority to safeguard seniors' right to affordable health care.
I am proud to say that more than 382,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Colorado received free preventive services in 2011, including mammograms, colonoscopies and a free annual wellness checkup with their doctors. And more than 39,400 Coloradans saved an average of $579 on prescription drugs.
It is unfair for us not to reward Coloradans with secure health care upon retirement, especially when they have paid into the system for their entire lives. That is why I joined a bipartisan group of senators on May 17 earlier this year to vote against a budget that would have privatized Medicare, reduced funding for Medicaid and forced seniors to pay out of pocket for health care expenses.
While I strongly disagree with proposals that seek to privatize and dismantle Medicare as we know it, I do believe we have a responsibility to continue to look at ways to improve the program and make it more affordable in the 21st century and beyond.
I am extremely grateful that Congress and the president acted 47 years ago today to give our seniors the assurance that they could retire with respectable health care options. I will continue to fight for common-sense, affordable health care for Coloradans and our seniors.