Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) released the following statement today on Republican proposals to cut Medicare benefits for seniors:
"We stand with the American people to oppose recent proposals to cut Medicare benefits. Every family in America has a grandmother or grandfather who relies on Medicare for their health care. Increasing health care costs for our grandparents and millions of seniors places an unfair burden on folks who worked hard for a living and who rely on the Medicare that they earned.
"Raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 would create a new health care donut hole. This would leave thousands of seniors with no health care coverage and jeopardize the future of affordable health care for all Americans. A report released yesterday by the Center for American Progress found that if the eligibility age for Medicare is raised, nearly half a million seniors would fall into a coverage gap when they would have previously been covered. The notion that raising the eligibility age will result in an overall savings is false. A Kaiser Family Foundation report found that raising the eligibility age would increase expenses for 65- and 66-year-olds and would increase costs for individuals, states and the private sector by twice as much as it would save the federal government. This change would also place a burden on younger Americans who help take care of their elderly family members.
"Proposals to increase so-called "means-testing' -- which would require some seniors to pay more for Medicare -- would harm seniors who already have meager incomes. Medicare premiums are already higher for individuals with incomes above $85,000. Proposals to increase premiums for 25% of beneficiaries would hit American seniors who make as little as $47,000. This will raise cost for seniors, including thousands in new hospital deductibles.
"Increasing the Medicare eligibility age is bad policy because it hurts seniors who worked hard all their lives, but it's especially harmful during a fragile recovery. If we really want to bring down costs, we should root out waste, fraud, and abuse -- as the Affordable Care Act is already doing -- and allow Medicare Part D to negotiate drug prices. Medicare operates more efficiently than private insurers, and it should be protected. We will not accept any measures that would take away health care coverage from our grandparents."