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Public Statements

Future of Medicare

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Madam Speaker, from the time that I first came to Congress, I have continued to be a strong supporter of our seniors' issues and standing by our seniors. Today, I rise in support of another issue that our seniors are facing today, the issue of the future of Medicare.

We must stand by those who have stood by us as they enter into their senior years, and we must be strong in making sure that Medicare stays as a solid medical safety net for our seniors.

Madam Speaker, we have heard a lot about the Greatest Generation, that generation that fought World War II and worked in industries and raised families and came back and did so much to make America the great Nation as we know today. But, Madam Speaker, America is a great Nation, has been for many years, and will be for many years to come. And there is not just one Greatest Generation; there is a continuum of great generations.

I grew up in a very small town in North Carolina, and my heroes were those people--many of whom had fought in World War II--those teachers and those storekeepers and those people in a small town that raised many of my friends and myself and looked after us, whether in the school or church or wherever it might be. As these people that took care of us become seniors and they continue this throughout the Nation for generations to come, we must take care of those that took care of us.

I was a high school history teacher for 7 years before coming to Congress, and I always told my students that you're not studying history by looking at pages in a book or looking at old pictures or paintings or whatever it might be; you are studying about people that have a story. As we talk today about our seniors and Medicare, we cannot forget that these are the people who took care of us. They cannot become just political bargaining chips and political theories. They are real people. They have real stories.

I want to talk briefly about two people that are especially important to me--my mom and dad. My dad grew up in that same small town that I did in North Carolina, fought in World War II, won a Bronze Star, came back, worked in the post office, and was happy just to be a part of helping in those ways that I talked about before. My mom grew up in Carroll County in Huntingdon, Tennessee, and came to North Carolina as a teacher and taught many generations. She is 96 years old, her birthday being last March 18. These are the heroes. These are the stories that we know, that all of us have. Whether our parents or grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles, whatever they may be, we cannot forget about them as individuals; we cannot forget about their stories, and we cannot let them become just political bargaining chips.

The question that we must ask, Madam Speaker, is: Why did we need Medicare in the first place? What in our system didn't work, that didn't take care of our seniors, that required Medicare to come into being? We know the answer to that. And we must continue to have that guarantee of a strong support structure when our medical needs for our seniors must be met this way. We must stand by our seniors.

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