During the debate between Congressman Phil English and Democratic Congressional Candidate Kathy Dahlkemper last night, Dahlkemper undeniably reaffirmed that she would raise Medicare premiums on 3rd Congressional District seniors if elected. Today, English rebuked Dahlkemper's call for higher premiums and reaffirmed his commitment to preserving choice and access to the Medicare program.
Dahlkemper, completely uninformed on the issue she was challenging English on, again flat out lied to seniors of the 3rd Congressional District. Dahlkemper attacked English for opposing legislation that would roll back polices enacted as part of the landmark Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA) and raise Medicare premiums for over 35,000 seniors in the congressional district. Dahlkemper previously tried to use seniors for her own political gain by lying about English's stance on Social Security privatization; English has been endorsed by the Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare for, in part, opposing Social Security privatization.
"Time and time again during this campaign, Dahlkemper's policies have been demonstrated and proven to be uninformed and reckless," English, said. "This time she has placed seniors square in the crosshairs, supporting a massive increase in Medicare premiums. This is a prime example of how Kathy's plans are beyond out of touch, they are a body blow to the pocketbooks of fixed-income seniors."
Today 8.3 million Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans that best suit their needs. In Pennsylvania's 3rd Congressional District, almost 37,000 seniors are enrolled in MA plans. English worked to include a change in MMA that dramatically reduced monthly premiums in MA plans. Following enactment of MMA, monthly premiums for seniors in Crawford and Mercer counties enrolled in basic Highmark plans for example decreased from $121 to $52, or by more than half. Seniors in the same basic plans in Erie County also received MA plan premium reductions.
"I fought for premium reductions for seniors and now my opponent, with complete disregard for seniors living on fixed incomes, wants to dramatically raise Medicare premiums," English continued. "Between increasing premiums for seniors and raising taxes on the middle-class, it seems Dahlkemper has yet to find anyone that she thinks should send less money to Washington."
Last July, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on H.R. 3162, the CHAMP Act, legislation that would cut Medicare by more than $190 billion to pay for the expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). $150 billion of this cut to Medicare would have come from rolling back the policy in MMA which reduced premiums for seniors. A study by researchers at Emory University validated this conclusion noting that seniors would be in for significantly higher premiums or even be forced out of these plans, leaving them with fewer choices. English, a senior member of the subcommittee that sets Medicare policy, voted against the measure.
"Most people would agree, as I do, that we should expand health coverage to America's neediest children currently without health insurance," English continued. "I believe my opponent, however, has dangerously overlooked the damage her policy would have on the bottom line of Pennsylvania seniors. Raising premiums on seniors, and in some cases likely doubling monthly premiums, is not the way to preserve choice and access to healthcare for seniors."