Rep. Maloney Addresses Queens Seniors on Medicare’s 45th Anniversary, Efforts to Save Program from GOP Assault

Jul 1, 2011
Press Release

Queens, NY – Today, on the 45th anniversary of the beginning of the Medicare program, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Queens, Manhattan) spoke to seniors at the HANAC Senior Center in Astoria about her efforts to fight plans put forward by the Republican House majority to end Medicare as we know it.  President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law on July 30, 1965 -- and on July 1, 1966, enrollees first entered the program.

On April 15th of this year, House Republicans passed a budget by a vote of 235 to 193 that would end Medicare as we know it – instead giving seniors an increasingly inadequate subsidy to buy private insurance.
“Medicare has transformed the lives of millions of seniors for the better over the last 45 years, and, with Social Security, helped ease the fear and insecurity that all too often used to accompany Americans’ retirement years.  Indeed, before Medicare, only about half of seniors had health insurance – and now health insurance coverage is nearly universal among American seniors.  So on this important anniversary, I want to let seniors know what I and my colleagues in the New York Congressional delegation are doing to preserve Medicare and fight attempts in Congress to end the program as we know it.  Simply put, we will never let that happen,” Maloney said.

“Let’s be clear: we need to balance the budget and to deal with the debt caused by two wars that the Bush administration did not pay for.  We must all share burden of getting our budget back in balance – but we can’t balance the budget on the backs of seniors and the poor, which is what the Republican plan would do,” Maloney continued.  “The Republican budget ends the Medicare guarantee for future retirees who are currently under age 55 and replaces it with a voucher system where seniors will have to go out into the private market to buy their own health insurance.

“The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office states that under the GOP plan, seniors ‘would bear a much larger share of their health care costs than they would under the traditional program.’  According to the CBO, the GOP plan would more than double the typical senior’s out-of-pocket health care spending in 2022, compared to what their costs would be under traditional Medicare – increasing out-of-pocket costs here in New York by more than $6,500 per senior each year.

“Medicare has served our nation well for 45 years.  It’s a huge part of the bedrock agreement America has with its citizens – if you work hard and play by the rules, our nation will help make sure you are taken care of in your retirement.

“Medicare is just too important to mess around with for political purposes.  The bottom line is that Congress need to focus on what’s really important to most Americans – creating jobs and getting our economy back on track, not ending Medicare as we know it.  That’s what I’m focused on.”