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Public Statements

Medicare

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. HONDA. I want to thank my friend, Dr. Ami Bera, for allowing me to speak for a few minutes.

Mr. Speaker, we are here today to dispel the oft repeated notion that Medicare is somehow the problem in the current fiscal crisis. Republicans have, in budget after budget, attempted to voucherize the program and end the Medicare guarantee as we know it. They would break the promise we made to our Nation's seniors decades ago, one in which we told hardworking middle class Americans that if they paid in through their wages and trusted in their government that they would be taken care of.

Medicare is the most efficient health plan in our country. It has a 2 percent overhead. Let me repeat that. It has a 2 percent overhead. More efficient than any private plan.

The problem isn't Medicare. The problem is the rising cost of health care and what it is we have to do to get that under control. It's a cost that has gone up exponentially in our country compared to the rest of the world.

Republicans want to do nothing about the real problem of rising costs. Rather than tackle the hard issue, they want to shift the costs on to seniors, people like my mom. She's 96 right now, and she depends on that important program.

Six years ago, she had to be checked up for a heart condition. She had had an aneurysm below her diaphragm and it was part of the arterial system. They said that it would be difficult to solve and that they would have to provide a stent because of her age, as she was 70 at that time.

Well, a few years later, that aneurysm grew a little larger, and it became pretty critical that, if nothing was done, she would die. The doctors looked at her again at the advanced age of 90 and concluded that we could do this with her--she walked around acting like she was 70--and would have a 9 out of 10 chance of survival. If she did not do anything, the chance of survival would have been a lot less.

My mom thought about it, she pondered about it, and she said, I'm 90. I've lived a good life. Let's take this 9 out of 10 chance. And she put her faith not only in the hands of the doctors and the system, but also in the hands of her God. After a few hours of operation, she came out, and it was successful.

But none of this could have been possible without Medicare. We would not have been able to afford it, and neither could she have afforded it.

She grew up as a child of a businessman during prewar United States, and in her adult life as my mom, she worked as a domestic, so she had no pension plan. She had no other plans that would help her in her old age, except Medicare.

So, time and time again, when Congress was looking for an easy way out in dealing with these issues, leaving folks like my mom holding the bag, this whole issue is personal. And I'm sure that this is a story that could be shared by almost every family in this country in one way or another when we think about Medicare. So, having the middle class Americans and people like my mom holding the bag is absolutely unacceptable. It is wrong and it is quite cowardly.

One of the major reasons why our health care costs keep going up is because we have not changed the way patients and doctors see each other. We must be innovative and creative in tackling the traditional costs of health care.

As a Representative covering Silicon Valley, I have helped lead the way in this by promoting innovative technologies, such as telemedicine, personal health connected devices, and other tools. I will be reintroducing the Health Care Innovation and Marketplace Technologies Act later this year to continue this effort. Let's hope that folks on the other side will understand its importance.

Most importantly, however, I will continue to stand with my friends here in the Chamber tonight to protect Medicare and the Medicare guarantee. We can fix our Nation's fiscal House by being innovative, rather than using the same old ideology. We can improve our Nation's standing by being courageous and standing by our Nation's seniors.

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