U.S. Senator Charles Schumer today (Feb. 8) reaffirmed his bedrock commitment to fight against growing attacks on Medicare, and to ensure the program is protected for current and future generations.
Schumer said there are some members of Congress – including the nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary Rep. Tom Price – who have proposed to turn Medicare in to a voucher-based, privatized system, which would effectively gut Medicare, a program that provides affordable healthcare to countless New York seniors.
Schumer promised to use his new role as Senate Democratic Leader to block the forces in Congress who seek to gut Medicare as we know it.
Schumer said the opponents of Medicare seek to pull the rug out from under seniors and vulnerable populations by voucherizing Medicare and cutting Medicaid.
“Every senior and every American should hear this loudly and clearly: I will fight with every fiber of my being to beat back these harsh efforts to weaken, wound and destroy Medicare. Medicare is enormously popular because it works, it delivers affordable and vital healthcare to our seniors and it needs to be strengthened not put on the chopping block. Millions of seniors and people with disabilities in New York rely on their Medicare benefits to lead decent, independent and healthy lives. After paying into the system throughout their working lives, it is unconscionable that right wing extremists and ideologues seek to pull the rug out from under millions who depend on these modest, earned benefits for dignity and health security. Our country must keep its promise to seniors by ensuring they have access to health care and economic security in their aging years,” said Senator Schumer. “I’m urging my Senate colleagues to keep Medicare off the partisan chopping block, and I plan to use my new role to make sure that Medicare is not only preserved, but strengthened for generations to come.”
During today’s conference call, Schumer argued that Medicare is one of the greatest policy innovations of the past century.
Schumer said this program has raised countless older Americans out of poverty, and profoundly changed for the better the way the U.S. treats its seniors.
Schumer said this critical program provides dignity and a higher quality of life to millions, and it must not only be preserved, but strengthened.
Schumer highlighted that President Trump declared during his campaign last year that seeking any “substantial” changes to Medicare would be a political “death wish.”
However, the selection of Congressman Tom Price – an ideologue and ardent opponent of Medicare – to lead HHS suggests that converting Medicare to a voucher-based program is on the table.
That’s why Schumer said today that any plan to fundamentally change Medicare by forcing seniors to navigate a maze of insurance options with a defined amount of money in a voucher– just to access substandard care at higher costs – is unacceptable.
Weakening this program, Schumer said, would be disastrous for New York State residents.
Schumer insisted that turning Medicare, a program that protects millions of New Yorkers, into a partisan voucher-based program would devastate Upstate seniors who have spent years paying into this essential program.
As such, Schumer said he would use his new leadership role in Washington to fight such privatization proposals.
Last year, on its 50th anniversary, 55 million Americans, including 3.3 million New Yorkers, were Medicare beneficiaries.
Schumer said the extreme Right’s changes to Medicare would hurt recipients across New York and the country.
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:
· In the Capital Region, approximately 213,122 seniors are enrolled in Medicare.
· In Central New York, approximately 196,028 seniors are enrolled in Medicare.
· In the Rochester-Finger Lakes, approximately 228,209 seniors are enrolled in Medicare.
· In Western New York, approximately 268,176 seniors are enrolled in Medicare.
· In the Southern Tier, approximately 141,917 seniors are enrolled in Medicare.
· In the Hudson Valley, approximately 370,713 seniors are enrolled in Medicare.
· In the North Country, approximately 104,347 seniors are enrolled in Medicare.
Schumer has long advocated for the protection of Medicare.
In the 114th Congress, Schumer and Senator Casey (D-PA) introduced the Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act.
This legislation would protect seniors from losing out on coverage and having to pay exorbitant lifetimes penalties.
The bill would require the federal government to send out a warning or notification to seniors six months before they turn 65, to remind them that they need to sign up for Medicare, it would limit coverage gaps for seniors, and clarify the appeals process for those looking to pursue recourse for penalties.