Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) made the following opening statement at a Steering and Policy Committee hearing, "Saving Medicare for Seniors Today and in the Future" held this morning. DeLauro, Steering and Policy Committee Co-Chair, is a strong supporter of the Medicare program and opposes policies and proposals--like those contained in the Ryan Budget--that would take benefits away from millions of Americans who have already paid in to the system. At the hearing, DeLauro also introduced witness Judith Stein, Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy and a Connecticut resident.
"Like Social Security, Medicare is one of the bedrock foundations of our American social insurance system. For forty-seven years, it has provided health care security for seniors.
"When Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law in 1965, only half of Americans 65 and older had health care coverage. Now, virtually all Americans 65 and older enjoy health care coverage. In the meantime, the average life expectancy of Americans has risen by eight full years.
In short, Medicare has transformed what it means to be old in this country. It is a tremendous achievement that all Americans should be proud of, and one of the most successful government programs in our history.
"That is why it is so troubling that the Ryan-Romney budget would end Medicare as we know it. Instead of working to support seniors and families in these difficult times, their budget tries to dramatically cut spending on health care for seniors, turn the program into an underfunded voucher, and end the Medicare guarantee for every American under the age of 55.
"Moreover, as journalist David Rogers recently noted in Politico, Mr. Ryan's budget deliberately limits the rate of growth of Medicare spending by one-half a percentage point from what he had previously allowed in his budget -- to prevent his budget from being in the red. This is not about the deficit. By incorporating this cut to Medicare spending, the budget can then cut taxes for millionaires.
"This is quite literally robbing seniors and the middle-class in order to give tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans. This is not the right way forward for America.
"We should be working to strengthen Medicare, not endangering the health and economic well-being of our parents and grandparents, as well as future generations, in order to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy. In today's hearing, we will hear from experts on the exact impact the Ryan-Romney budget will have on Medicare and America's seniors. I look forward to the conversation. Thank you."