Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: The Legislature Must Take Action to Protect Our Elderly

Posted on July 17, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

It should be noted in regards to Gov. LePage’s recent requests for the 126th Legislature to convene that since the 108th Legislature (1977-1978), there have been 37 special sessions. All but 1 was initiated by a Governor’s Proclamation; that sole outlier was during a state shutdown, called at 12:10 a.m.

Prior to the 108th Legislature, the second year of the Legislature was considered a special session. In these instances, each special session back to the 99th Legislature (1959-1960) was also called by a Governor’s Proclamation.

—–

Audio link here.

Last week I met a woman in her 80s whose husband has dementia. She has lunch with him every single day at the nursing home that cares for him. If the nursing home had to close, she would be forced to drive hours to see him in another facility.

Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

The Legislature must take action on our nursing homes.

lepage mayhewMany Mainers have loved ones in nursing homes. But some of them in rural areas are in danger of closing. Two have already announced they will shut their doors in July.

Not only is this sad for our elderly and their families, it is also avoidable. I worked with Republican leadership just a few short months ago to find more than $5 million that could be used to care for our elderly in Maine’s nursing homes.

But the liberal legislative leadership rejected this source of funding, which would have spurred about $8 million in federal dollars.

The $5 million is still sitting there. The Legislature can take action on my proposal to fund nursing homes before another facility is forced to close. Our elderly should not have to live in fear. They should not have to worry if they will have a place to call home tomorrow.

On behalf of all Mainers who are concerned about our elderly, I have sent a letter to Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves to call back the Legislature to vote on funding the nursing homes.

Senator Alfond represents an urban area with plenty of nursing facilities, and Representative Eves represents people who have easy access to urban areas. They may favor large corporations that buy up nursing homes and consolidate them in urban areas.

But that doesn’t help Mainers in rural parts of our state. They simply do not understand how difficult it is for Mainers in the rest of the state to find nursing homes that are close to home.

Maine families should not have to drive hours to see their loved ones. We must do everything we can to support all of our nursing homes, but especially those in the rural areas.
All members of the Legislature should have the opportunity to show Mainers whether they support our elderly by taking a straight up-or-down vote on my proposal.

The Senate is already coming back into session on July 31 to vote on judicial nominations. That would be a good day to convene the entire Legislature. Our elderly cannot wait any longer.

Thank you for listening.

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Weekly Democratic Address by Speaker Mark Eves (N Berwick): Politics Only Obstacle to Life-Saving Health Care for Maine

Posted on January 11, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

democratic radio message 11014-1(Audio link here)

    Speaker Eves: Politics is the only obstacle to life-saving health care for Maine people
    Alexander report another political excuse to deny and delay health care.

speaker evesWhen Laura Tasheiko of Northport found out she had seriously aggressive cancer she was fortunate to get the treatment she needed because she qualified for life-saving health care through Medicaid. But earlier this month she was dropped and left without coverage as she continues her recovery from the ongoing and debilitating effects of cancer, surgery, and chemotherapy.

Like 25,000 other Mainers, Laura lost her coverage because Governor Paul LePage refused to accept federal health care dollars to expand Medicaid in Maine.

Good morning, I’m Speaker of the Maine House Mark Eves of North Berwick.

Laura’s story is one of the many reasons the Legislature will reignite our effort to make sure health care is affordable for more Maine families. Earlier this week, hundreds of Mainers like Laura rallied at the State House on the opening day of the Legislative session in support of accepting federal health care dollars to cover more Mainers.

Maine has an opportunity to accept 100 percent federal funding to provide health care for 70,000 Maine people, including nearly 3,000 veterans. We should do it.

The only obstacle standing in the way of this life-saving health care is politics.

Health care is a right not a privilege. No one should go bankrupt just because they get sick.

Accepting these federal dollars will mean life-saving health care for people like Laura. It will also save and create thousands of jobs by investing more than $250 million dollars into our state economy each year.

Plus, it will save the state money, Independent studies show the state will save $690 million dollars over the course of 10 years. Maine is one of only 10 states that will see such dramatic savings.

Now, Governor LePage and his Tea Party allies will say and do anything to stop this common sense health care proposal from moving forward.
They’ve even paid an out-of-state Tea Party consultant to produce a report opposing it. The $1 million contract went to Gary Alexander, whose mismanagement and failed policies resulted in 89,000 children losing health care in Pennsylvania and cost taxpayers in that state $7 million.

You can expect the Governor and his supporters to tout this report. I urge you to see it for what it is: Another political excuse to deny and delay life-saving health care to more Maine people.

I urge you to join the chorus of Mainers who support expanding health care. On Wednesday, Jan. 15th. a public hearing will be held on my bill to accept federal health dollars to cover more Maine people,

Lawmakers need to hear from Mainers about health care not out of state million dollar consultant.

Thank you for listening.

I’m Speaker of the House Mark Eves and I won’t stop fight for health care for the people of Maine.

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Mainers Urge Lawmakers to Expand Medicare (Pix, Video)

Posted on January 9, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Yesterday the 126th Maine Legislature reconvened to begin the second half of the legislative session. At the same time, hundreds of people from around the state came to Augusta to hold a rally organized by Maine People’s Alliance coalition members, hear the life stories of almost two dozen fellow citizens, and urge lawmakers to support expansion of Medicare for 70,000 Mainers as part of the Health Care First initiative.

Almost two dozen came to the mic to speak at the rally; here is a full clip from the event held in the State House’s Hall of Flags.

    “As a nurse, many of the patients I see every day wait until they are so sick that we can’t help them the way that we should and their health deteriorates even more,” said Jessie Mellott, a Registered Nurse from Bangor, introducing the speakers. “They lose limbs. They may never get back to their previous health due to lack of access to care. A lot of the time, these are easy things to fix if they were addressed in time. I urge the legislature to help me care for my patients and take the important step of expanding Medicaid services for 70,000 Maine people.”

    gina“I am a veteran of the U.S. Navy and lost my MaineCare coverage on December 31st,” said Thomas Ptacek of Portland. “My family has a history of multiple sclerosis and I worry that I, too, may have it someday. But my VA benefits are limited and will not cover the cost of preventative care or any treatment for the disease. I need MaineCare for that.”

    “When I found out I had seriously aggressive cancer I was able to access MaineCare and that was life-saving for me,” said Laura Tasheiko of Northport. “I was dropped and left without coverage as I continue my recovery from the ongoing and debilitating effects of cancer, surgery, and chemotherapy treatment. MaineCare is essential for the monitoring and care needed to avoid a medical crisis from medication complications, or even death, in the event of the cancer coming back.”

    “Without MaineCare, my injuries will just keep getting worse and worse. I’ll just keep going until I can’t go anymore and then they’ll throw you to the wolves, I guess,” said Richard Holt, a lobsterman and carpenter living in South Portland, “I need it to make sure I can stay healthy enough to keep working for at least another 4 years before I qualify for Medicare.”

More quotes from Bangor Daily News:

atwood

    One of those speakers was Gail MacLean, who boards horses at her stable in Gray. MacLean said she has been on Medicaid for three years, but lost her coverage on Dec. 31 as a result of the state not expanding the program, known as MaineCare in the state.

    “Now I’m tip-toeing around the farm, hoping I don’t hurt myself,” she said. “My fear is that if something happens, I’ll lose what I’ve worked so hard for.”

    Another man, Tom Bennie, a farmer and handyman from Whitefield, said MaineCare paid for his full hip replacement in 2010, and helped his wife recover from a heart attack shortly thereafter.

    “If it weren’t for MaineCare, I wouldn’t be able to stand here today,” he said. “My health is all I have. That’s the most important thing. MaineCare gave me a sense of security.”

    Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos, I-Friendship, is co-sponsor of Eves’ Medicaid expansion bill, which legislative Republicans and LePage have vowed to defeat again this year. He called on the governor to follow the example of other GOP executives, such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who in their states accepted Medicaid expansion as allowed by President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

    He called the showing by MPA “impressive.”

    “I think it’s a real statement to the moderate Republicans to get on board,” he said. “If Gov. LePage vetoes this bill again, I expect them to support us in overriding.”

Later after the end of the beginning day of session, Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves spoke to those assembled:

    “Today in the halls of the State House, we heard why expanding health care to tens of thousands of Mainers is a top priority. The stakes are high—people’s lives and well-being are on the line,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. “Expanding healthcare is the right thing to do morally and it’s the right economic decision. Making sure folks have access to healthcare without the fear of going bankrupt is something we all value and it’s something we will continue fighting for.”

    “We are so grateful to the people who came today to talk to lawmakers about the importance of this life-saving health care,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick, who is sponsoring a new measure to accept federal Medicaid dollars under the Affordable Care Act. “What we heard today is what we hear from our neighbors at home: people want and need life-saving health care. They don’t understand why politics and ideology are holding up common sense care.”

A public hearing will be held by the HHS Committee (Cross Building Rm 209) on January 15 regarding Speaker Eves’ and Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson’s Medicaid expansion proposals. More pictures from yesterday can be found here.

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Maine State Rep. Helen Rankin (D-Hiram) Speaks to Colleagues in Support of LD 1546: “From My Heart to Yours”

Posted on May 24, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

This floor speech (VIDEO) by Rep. Helen Rankin was not prepared in advance, but rather delivered from the heart from some notes, during Tuesday evening’s debate on LD 1546, “An Act To Strengthen Maine’s Hospitals, Increase Access to Health Care and Provide for a New Spirits Contract”.

100_5488In her address to her colleagues, Rankin speaks of being a child of the Depression, of losing her older sister at a young age due to the family’s inability to receive health care, of her mother working three jobs to provide for the family, of her own long life of good health and unexpected quadruple bypass this past year. She spoke of the wonderful life-saving treatment she received, due to being able to access health care, and concerns for those who do not have the same ability to access it as she and the House members can.

Her conclusion: “Please take advantage of this wonderful opportunity. I say that from my heart, to your heart.”

*Related:

Maine Speaker Of The House Mark Eves Urges Passage Of Medicaid Expansion Bill LD 1546 (Video; Text)

Floor Speech Of Rep. Drew Gattine (D-Westbrook) In Support Of LD 1546: Making The Case To Accepting Federal Funds

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Maine Senate Passes Historic Medicare Expansion, Hospital Repayment Bill LD 1546 Along Party Lines

Posted on May 21, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Yesterday in a 20-15 vote, the Senate passed an historic measure to repay Maine’s hospital debt and accept federal funds to expand healthcare coverage for nearly 70,000 Mainers.

As passed, the bill (LD 1546) also makes the final payment to Maine hospitals, totaling $485 million in state and federal dollars. Maine hospitals will also receive an additional $163 million a year in federal dollars for treating newly insured Maine residents if Maine accepts the federal health care dollars.

100_5426Nearly 70,000 Maine people can receive healthcare coverage as soon as Maine accepts the federal government’s offer. The federal government has agreed to pay 100% of the cost for covering all newly eligible people for the first three years and then gradually lowering its payment to no less than 90 percent of the cost by 2020. Maine is projected to save $690 million in the next 10 years when it accepts the federal dollars, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Foundation and the conservative Heritage Foundation. Maine is also one of 10 states that will see Medicaid expenditures go down over the next 10 years. Nearly 70 percent of Maine people support accepting federal health care dollars to increase access to health care, according to the nonpartisan Maine People’s Resource Center.

According to the Maine Hospital Association, both bad debt and charity care cost $450 million last year, an increase of $32 million from the previous year. Insuring nearly 70,000 Mainers will reduce hospital charity care and bad debt costs. The Maine Hospital Association has stated its support for paying back the hospitals and accepting federal health care dollars. According to the Maine Center for Economic Policy, accepting federal dollars would inject an additional $250 million of federal funding into Maine’s economy and create more than 3,100 jobs with more than 1,700 jobs in the healthcare industry alone.

During Monday’s debate, many Senators shared personal stories of people’s lives that will be impacted if the state accepts the federal government’s offer.

    “The time for delaying and denying healthcare to thousands of Maine people has passed. The time for action is now,” said Senator Margaret Craven of Lewiston. “Too many Mainers are one illness or accident away from financial ruin. It doesn’t have to be that way.”

    “Passing this bill is fiscally responsible, medically responsible, and morally responsible,” said Senator John Cleveland of Auburn. “The legislature can make that decision. We have it in our power to pay our debt to the hospitals and provide healthcare to the poorest in our communities.”

    Assistant Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash spoke about two neighbors in his hometown who had health problems similar to his own. “Of the three of us, I was the only one with health insurance, I could afford to get the care I need, and I’m the only one who is alive. I can’t help thinking that’s the reason: I had health insurance. We should be throwing people like them a line, not pulling up the ladder behind us.”

    Senator Emily Cain of Orono reminded the body that, Fundraisers are not health care. People are not widgets. We must accept this offer.”

    “To be absolutely clear, medical insurance is not welfare. Medical insurance keeps people healthy. The patients who come to see me with insurance do much better than those without,” said Senator Geoff Gratwick of Bangor, who is also a practicing physician. “From my perspective as a physician, voting against this bill is a vote to cripple Maine, both literally and figuratively. Maine hospitals and Maine people both win with this bill. Maine’s hospital debt is a symptom of our high healthcare costs. Not only do we have to pay back our hospitals, but we have to address how we got here. By ensuring that thousands of Mainers can see a doctor when they are sick, we will keep the healthy at work. We will reduce the charity care costs and the debt our hospitals are accruing. To pay the hospitals without reducing their costs moving forward would leave the job half done.”

    “We are addressing the costs of health care for Maine people and hospitals,” said Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall of Richmond. “What’s more, we’re doing it all in one fell swoop. That’s efficient. That’s good government. That’s what we were sent here to do.”

More clips in support of LD 1546 of Democratic Senators John Tuttle of Sanford, Chris Johnson of Somerville, John Patrick of Rumford (Part 1) (Part 2) and Independent Dick Woodbury of Freeport.

The bill, LD 1546, “An Act To Strengthen Maine’s Hospitals, Increase Access to Health Care and Provide for a New Spirits Contract,” faces additional votes in the House and Senate.

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Weekly Democratic Address by Rep Linda Sanborn (Gorham): Governor LePage Should Sign Our Comprehensive Plan to Pay Maine’s Hospitals

Posted on May 18, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Audio link here.

linda sanbornIn the coming days, the state of Maine has an opportunity to pay back the debt owed to our hospitals and contain the rising costs of health care for our people and hospitals.

The Legislature will be sending Governor Paul LePage a bill to pay back Maine’s hospitals and to accept federal health care dollars to cover nearly 70,000 Maine people.

It’s an offer he shouldn’t refuse.

Good morning, I’m Representative Linda Sanborn – a retired family physician from Gorham.

Democrats have put forward a comprehensive plan that not only pays the debt; we make sure we don’t get back here in the future.

Maine’s hospital debt is a symptom of our high health care costs.

As a family physician, I can tell you first hand that when people without insurance get sick, they often end up getting care in the emergency room — where it is most costly. The cost of that care is often picked up by hospitals in the form of “charity care” and then passed on to anyone with private insurance.

By accepting federal health care dollars to cover more Maine families we reduce the charity care and bad debt that costs Maine hospitals $450 million dollars last year alone.

To do one without the other, would leave the job half done.

Our plan pays the debt and helps fix the underlying problem that contributes to high healthcare costs in the first place. We don’t just treat the symptom; we treat the problem.

The federal government has agreed to fully cover the cost for health care tens of thousands of Mainers for the next three years, and gradually lowers its payment to no less than 90 percent of the cost over a decade. There is no cost to the state — in fact we will save money. Maine is projected to save $690 million in the next 10 years if it accepts the federal dollars, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Foundation.

This could change the lives of tens of thousands of Maine people who fear getting sick because they can’t afford to see a doctor when they need it most.

Take Marie from Bangor. She has a part-time job that doesn’t provide health insurance. She also has a serious heart condition that doesn’t allow her to work full time. Without health insurance for her or her family, she is forced to choose between putting gas in her car or paying her medical and utility bills.

Or, Patty Kidder of Sanford and her husband lost their health care coverage, like so many Mainers, when her husband lost his job at Spencer Press during the recession. Or, Tom Ptacek a U.S. Navy Veteran who works part time and has a non-service related problem that the VA doesn’t cover.

Marie, Patty, and Tom were among the many who urged lawmakers to pass this bill.

Unfortunately, they are not alone. This is a reality for tens of thousands of Mainers who are unable to afford health insurance.

Accepting these federal funds to increase health care coverage for more working Mainers is the right thing to. And it makes sense to do it as part of a comprehensive package that repays Maine’s hospital debt. It both addresses the costs of health care for our hospitals and our people.

It’s a good deal. That’s why Republican governors across the country have taken the funds.

Governor LePage has a choice to make: Will he support a plan that pays the hospitals and accepts federal health care dollars to cover more Mainers? Or will he retreat into an ideological corner, putting politics ahead of the people’s health?

People’s lives are on the line. Now is the time to act.

Thank you for listening. I’m Rep. Linda Sanborn.

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Mainers Reach Out to Senators Collins and Snowe on Tax Fairness, Fiscal Cliff, Proposed Cuts to Safety Net Programs

Posted on December 3, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

obama snoweWhile President Obama and Congressional leaders negotiate possible solutions to averting the fiscal cliff scernario, Maine citizens are taking matters into their own hands by contacting Senator Susan Collins, out-bound Senator Olympia Snowe and Senator-elect Angus King. Neither Snowe nor Collins has yet signaled a willingness to end Bush tax cuts for individuals making over $250,000 a year, a step that would raise over a trillion a year. Those cuts are due to expire at the end of this year.

According to a new report released by the AFL-CIO, 299,875 Mainers could be negatively impacted if Congress attempts cuts to Social Security, including 55,525 people with disabilities and 24,150 children. Of the 358,004 Mainers who get their health care coverage from Medicaid, 130,862 children and 60,768 seniors could be affected if the lame duck Congress makes cuts to Medicaid benefits. If the Bush tax cuts are renewed, the richest 2% in Maine would receive an average of $27,230 in tax cuts, while workers would receive an average of $1,200. The 2012 House Republican budget plan would cut federal support to Maine’s Medicaid program by at least $6.2 billion over 10 years, further throwing the numbers reported last week to the state’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee into chaos.

(Sidenote: As of today, it is being reported that the budget may not have a $100 million shortfall, but rather be twice as large a deficit.)

Last week volunteers with the Maine People’s Alliance, as part of the organization’s “Fair Share” initiative efforts, visited the senators’ Augusta offices to urge them to support President Obama’s plan to end the Bush-era tax breaks for individuals who make over $250,000 a year. Staffers were presented with copies of more than 50 letters and editorials recently published in Maine newspapers. The letters “serve as a reminder that a strong majority of Mainers support ending tax breaks that disproportionately benefit the wealthy as a way to avert the budget showdown in Washington”, per MPA.

sukeRachel Sukeforth of Litchfield, one of those making the deliveries, saw this consensus first hand as she campaigned for the State House of Representatives over the past year. Last week, a recount showed she had come up only four votes short against a Republican incumbent in a conservative district (HD 80).

“I want Senators Snowe and Collins to know that I just don’t see why, when so many working Mainers like myself and my family are struggling to make ends meet, that our tax rates are being held hostage to protect the incomes of a tiny sliver of very wealthy people,” said Sukeforth.

IMG_0724A recent poll conducted by the Maine People’s Resource Center found that not only did Mainers support tax fairness, but 55.3% of voters believed that increasing taxes on the wealthy would help the economy. Only 29.2% percent thought it would hurt the economy.

“We want to make sure that Senators Snowe and Collins realize that their constituents are watching the budget negotiations in Washington very closely and have been speaking out on this issue for months,” said MPA organizer Jonathan Hillier. “A strong majority of Americans and Mainers have made it very clear that they would rather see tax rates for the wealthy return to Clinton-era levels than see deep cuts to important programs like Medicare and Social Security.”

The Maine People’s Alliance is also launching an online postcard campaign to continue the drumbeat of support for tax fairness.

collins obamaResponding to her constituents’ strong desire to speak to her, Senator Collins has authorized her staff to hold statewide local constituent service hours in all of Maine’s 16 counties tomorrow, in addition to her regularly maintained six state offices (in Caribou, Bangor, Augusta, Lewiston, Portland, and Biddeford). A staff member will be available to provide assistance with federal issues and agencies, such as the Social Security Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Internal Revenue Service. No appointment is necessary and all conversations are strictly confidential.

“It can be incredibly frustrating for people to try and navigate the often muddy waters of federal regulations, and each year thousands of Mainers turn to the talented staff in my state offices for help,” said Senator Collins. “Constituent service is incredibly important to me, and I’m proud of my state office staff, which acts as an important liaison between federal agencies and the people of our state. They understand the cares and concerns of the local areas in which they work because that is also where they live, and they have the expertise to investigate and resolve problems.”

The locations and hours:

    Androscoggin County
    Turner Town Office
    11 Turner Center Road, Turner
    10:00-11:30 AM

    Aroostook County
    Ashland Town Office
    17 Bridgham Street, Ashland
    9:30 – 10:30 AM

    Cumberland County (four locations)
    Falmouth Town Office
    271 Falmouth Road, Falmouth
    10:00-11:00 AM

    Cumberland Town Office
    290 Tuttle Road, Cumberland
    11:30 AM-12:30 PM

    South Portland City Hall
    25 Cottage Road, South Portland
    1:30 PM-3:00 PM

    Cape Elizabeth Town Hall
    320 Ocean House Road, Cape Elizabeth
    3:30 PM-4:30 PM

    Franklin County
    Wilton Town Office
    158 Weld Road, Wilton
    12:30-2:00pm

    Hancock County
    Lamoine Town Office
    686 Douglas Highway, Lamoine
    9:30-11:00 AM

    Kennebec County
    Winthrop Town Office
    17 Highland Avenue, Winthrop
    10:30-11:30 AM

    Knox County
    Camden Town Office
    29 Elm Street, Conference Room
    Camden
    1:00 – 3:00 PM

    Lincoln County
    Newcastle Town Office
    4 Pump Street, Newcastle
    3:30-4:30 PM

    Oxford County
    Norway Town Office
    19 Danforth Street, Norway
    3:00-4:30 PM

    Penobscot County
    Millinocket Town Office
    197 Penobscot Avenue, Millinocket
    10:00-11:30 AM

    Piscataquis County
    Greenville Town Office
    7 Minden Street, Greenville
    10:00-11:30 AM

    Sagadahoc County
    Topsham Town Office
    100 Main Street, 2nd Floor Conference Room
    Topsham
    1:30-2:30 PM

    Somerset County
    Norridgewock Town Office
    16 Perkins Street, Norridgewock
    8:30-9:30 AM

    Waldo County
    Belfast City Hall
    131 Church Street, Belfast
    1:30 – 3:00 PM

    Washington County

    Danforth Town Office
    18 Central Street, Danforth
    9:30 – 10:30 AM

    York County (2 Locations)
    Arundel Fire Department
    468 Limerick Road, Arundel
    12:00 PM – 1:30 PM

    Berwick Town Hall
    11 Square Street, Berwick
    12:00 PM – 1:30 PM

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Weekly Address of President Obama: Preserving and Strengthening Medicare

Posted on August 25, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Hi, everybody. Over the last few weeks, there’s been a lot of talk about Medicare, with a lot of accusations and misinformation flying around. So today I want to step back for a minute and share with you some actual facts and news about the program.

This week, we found out that, thanks to the health care law we passed, nearly 5.4 million seniors with Medicare have saved over $4.1 billion on prescription drugs. That’s an average of more than $700 per person. And this year alone, 18 million seniors with Medicare have taken advantage of preventive care benefits like mammograms or other cancer screenings that now come at no extra cost.

That’s progress. It means that seniors everywhere are getting the care they need for less. And if you have questions about what benefits you’re entitled to, you can go to http://www.medicare.gov to find out.

This news is also a reminder of what’s really at stake when we talk about the future of Medicare. It’s not about overheated rhetoric at election time. It’s about a promise this country made to our seniors that says if you put in a lifetime of hard work, you shouldn’t lose your home or your life savings just because you get sick.

Over the last 47 years, millions of Americans have worked for that promise. They’ve earned it. And for many seniors, the care they’ve gotten through Medicare has made all the difference in the world.

Growing up as the son of a single mother, I was raised with the help of my grandparents. I saw how important things like Medicare and Social Security were in their lives. And I saw the peace of mind it gave them.

That’s why, as President, my goal has been to strengthen these programs now, and preserve them for future generations. Because today’s seniors deserve that same peace of mind. And the millions of Americans who are working hard right now deserve to know that the care they need will be available when they need it.

That’s why, as part of the Affordable Care Act, we gave seniors deeper discounts on prescription drugs, and made sure preventive care like mammograms are free without a co-pay. We’ve extended the life of Medicare by almost a decade. And I’ve proposed reforms that will save Medicare money by getting rid of wasteful spending in the health care system and reining in insurance companies – reforms that won’t touch your guaranteed Medicare benefits. Not by a single dime.

Republicans in Congress have put forward a very different plan. They want to turn Medicare into a voucher program. That means that instead of being guaranteed Medicare, seniors would get a voucher to buy insurance, but it wouldn’t keep up with costs. As a result, one plan would force seniors to pay an extra $6,400 a year for the same benefits they get now. And it would effectively end Medicare as we know it.

I think our seniors deserve better. I’m willing to work with anyone to keep improving the current system, but I refuse to do anything that undermines the basic idea of Medicare as a guarantee for seniors who get sick.

Here in America, we believe in keeping our promises – especially to our seniors who have put in a lifetime of hard work and deserve to enjoy their golden years. That’s what Medicare is all about. That’s why we need to strengthen and preserve it for future generations. And as long as I have the honor of serving as your President, that’s exactly what I’ll do.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

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