McCaskill Says Republican Plan to End Medicare Should Not Be Part of Debt Negotiations
In Letter to Vice President Biden, Senators Urge Unwavering Opposition to Medicare-Ending Proposal During Deficit Discussions
June 6, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As Congress continues to work towards a compromise on deficit reduction proposals in advance of a vote on the debt ceiling, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today called for Vice President Biden to keep the House-passed Republican plan to dismantle Medicare out of bipartisan negotiations on deficit reduction. In the letter to Vice President Joe Biden, who is leading the discussions, the senators urged the administration to continue to oppose any GOP efforts to insert their plan to dismantle Medicare into a deficit reduction package. The letter was also signed by Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Jon Tester (D-MT).
“We must protect our nation’s seniors from ending Medicare as they know it, and forcing them to cover the rising costs of healthcare, even if they don’t have the means to do so. While it’s crucial we focus on deficit reduction, this proposal to destroy Medicare is irresponsible and unacceptable,” McCaskill said.
“As the working group moves beyond areas of consensus and into parts of the budget that will require the toughest choices, we wish to identify in advance one proposal that we cannot support in any form—the House-passed plan to dismantle Medicare,” the senators wrote. “For the good of the nation’s seniors, it must remain off the table.”
Despite the public’s overwhelming rejection of the GOP proposal to dismantle Medicare, many Republican leaders are insisting that the plan be part of a package to lower the debt. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan recently declared that the plan to dismantle Medicare is “part of the debt ceiling talks.” And last week, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell echoed that it is “on the table.” Further, the House majority recently reaffirmed its commitment to this plan through the adoption of a rule that declares the House-passed budget shall have “force and effect.”
Numerous reports have revealed the devastating impact the GOP’s Medicare-ending budget would have on the nation’s seniors. Across the country, the GOP’s reckless plan would cost 2 million private sector jobs over the next five years and increase seniors’ out-of-pocket health care costs by $6,359 in 2022 – more than double what they would otherwise pay. Analyses also show that starting next year if the GOP plan is law, nearly four million seniors nationwide will be forced to pay $2.2 billion more in prescription drug costs, and at least one million seniors will have to pay more than $110 million more for annual wellness visits in 2012.
Read a copy of the letter below:
The White House
Vice President Joe Biden
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
First Floor, West Wing
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Vice President Biden,
It has come to our attention that the bipartisan working group you are leading is making considerable progress in identifying ways to reduce the deficit. We are encouraged by the progress being made in these negotiations and stand ready to work with you towards the passage of a responsible deficit reduction package that will set our nation on a healthy fiscal course.
But as the working group moves beyond areas of consensus and into parts of the budget that will require the toughest choices, we wish to identify in advance one proposal that we cannot support in any form-the House-passed plan to dismantle Medicare.
As you know, the House-passed budget would end Medicare as we know it by destroying the guaranteed-benefit system and instead requiring seniors to enter the private insurance market. Despite the public's overwhelming rejection of this proposal, and even after the Senate vote against it, many top congressional leaders are now saying they want the plan included as part of a package to reduce the deficit. Just last week, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan declared that the plan to dismantle Medicare is "part of the debt ceiling talks." Then on Sunday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell echoed that it is "on the table."
This proposal would never pass Congress on its own, and it does not belong in a larger deal either. It would be devastating for America's seniors, who would see their out-of-pocket costs for health care double and the benefits they currently enjoy jeopardized. Under this risky proposal, insurance company bureaucrats would decide what care seniors get.
We are aware the administration has rejected this proposal since its passage by the House, and we applaud your efforts to educate the American people about its serious implications. We encourage you to remain unwavering in opposition to this scheme. For the good of the nation's seniors, it must remain off the table.
We share the goal of ensuring the long-term health of Medicare. We hope to identify delivery system reforms and other sources of savings that can extend the life of Medicare in its current form. But we will never allow any effort to dismantle the program and force benefit cuts upon seniors under the guise of deficit reduction. Our nation's seniors are not responsible for the fiscal challenges we face, and they should not be responsible for shouldering the burden of reducing our deficits.
Thank you again for your leadership in these budget talks and for your continued work standing up on behalf of the nation's seniors.
Senator Claire McCaskill
Senator Bill Nelson
Senator Ben Cardin
Senator Sherrod Brown
Senator Jon Tester
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