NEW: Doherty Reiterates Support for Medicare
Monday, July 30, 2012
Brendan Doherty, candidate for Congress from Rhode Island’s First Congressional District, recognized today’s 47th anniversary of the establishment of Medicare and reiterated his firm commitment to maintain and strengthen this fundamental program for America’s senior citizens.
“As Americans, we have made a social contract with our senior citizens and maintaining the Medicare program in its current form is a fundamental component of honoring our commitment,” commented Doherty. “In recent weeks, my opponent has falsely stated that I would support a proposal before the US Congress to replace the Medicare program with a system of healthcare vouchers. I have not endorsed such a proposal and today I reiterate my support for maintaining and strengthening Medicare.”
Incumbent David Cicilline and his supporters have recently begun to state falsely that Doherty would support a system of health care vouchers in place of the current Medicare program for some beneficiaries, as set forth in the Wyden-Ryan proposal.
“While I appreciate the commitment to fiscal responsibility by Congressmen Wyden and Ryan, as well as the spirit of bipartisan cooperation that they have embraced, I have stated firmly and unequivocally that I am opposed to replacing Medicare with a voucher system,” Doherty continued. “I am concerned that such a plan would ultimately result in the shifting of healthier Americans to private plans, leaving the sickest and frailest Americans in a weakened version of the traditional Medicare program. While I applaud representatives Wyden and Ryan for this effort to forge a bipartisan and cost-saving approach to Medicare reform, ultimately this proposal is unlikely to achieve the broad political consensus in Washington that is essential to any effort to reform a fundamental social program such as Medicare.”
Doherty’s comments come on the 47th anniversary of the Medicare program, which was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson after receiving significant bi-partisan support. Medicare is comprised of Medicare Part A (hospital insurance), Part B (medical insurance), Part C (Medicare Advantage), and Part D (prescription drug plans). The Medicare Part A trust fund is estimated to be exhausted in 2024 and overall Medicare spending, which currently accounts for 15% of the federal budget, is expected to rise from $555 billion in 2011 to $903 billion in 2020. The Wyden-Ryan Plan would attempt to bring Medicare spending down by introducing more competition through a voucher option.
Doherty continued: “There is no doubt that Congress and the President must work together to reign in health care spending and in doing so, control the spiraling cost of Medicare; but they must do so without negatively affecting beneficiaries. There are several options that have received bi-partisan support and have previously been backed by the President, including permitting Medicare to use its bargaining power to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for the prices for prescription drugs offered through Part D, greater availability of generic prescription drugs, tort reform that relies upon evidence-based standards of care, and greater incentives to providers to shift from fee-for-service to fee-for-value.”
“First of all, however, we must make a real effort to combat the estimated $48 billion in waste and fraud that is drained from Medicare each year,” Doherty emphasized. “In Congress, I will make it a priority to fight Medicare fraud by voting for bills such as the Medicare and Medicaid Fast Act (H.R. 3399) and by investigating other ways in which we can stop people from stealing from our seniors. No one should dare to mention a reduction in services to our senior citizens while such waste and fraud continues – in short, we should fight fraud first.”
“It is unfortunate that Congressman Cicilline continues to rely upon scare tactics and partisan rhetoric to support his re-election effort. He has shown a total lack of leadership on the issue and fails even to acknowledge the need to strengthen Medicare or combat the waste and fraud that threatens this program every day. While I believe that we must revisit the Affordable Care Act to address its shortcomings, the incumbent is unwilling to acknowledge the $500 billion reduction in Medicare reimbursements that the ACA will impose over the next ten years. In Congress I will work to protect Medicare for this generation of beneficiaries, while preserving its guaranties for our children and grandchildren,” concluded Doherty.
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