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Hirono, Donnelly introduce amendment to protect Medicare and Medicaid

Amendment to budget resolution would block major changes to critical safety net programs without transparency and debate in Congress

 Senator Mazie K. Hirono, Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), and 17 Senate Democrats introduced an amendment to protect Medicare and Medicaid from the budget reconciliation process.

“For the past 50 years, seniors and working families have enjoyed the peace of mind of knowing that Medicare and Medicaid will be there for them,” Senator Hirono said. “This budget resolution would dismantle these critical programs and our social safety net, resulting in too many families losing their health insurance. I will do everything in my power to protect these benefits for families in Hawaii and across the country.”

Every day, Hoosier families and seniors rely on Medicare and HIP 2.0, which Governor Pence established and was made possible thanks to the health care law,” Senator Donnelly said. “I have opposed and will continue to oppose privatization of Medicare or turning it into a voucher system. If my colleagues, Republican or Democratic, have constructive ideas that would strengthen Medicare or Medicaid, count me in, but if they want to break promises to our seniors or take away coverage and increase premiums for families, count me out.”

The Hirono-Donnelly amendment is cosponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

"Medicare and Medicaid are essential pillars of our health care system that have served Wisconsin families well for decades. The people of Wisconsin did not send me to Washington to take their health care away, so I will continue to fight efforts to privatize and cut benefits in Medicare and Medicaid and remain committed to protecting and strengthening these programs for our current and future generations. This a simple and important promise Washington must keep to the American people," Senator Baldwin said.

“This critical amendment protects Medicare and Medicaid from Republican attempts to undermine support for the most vulnerable members of our society,” Senator Blumenthal said. “Medicare and Medicaid are working for the people of Connecticut, and I will continue fighting against cruel, short-sighted efforts that would put families, seniors, and all Americans in jeopardy.”

“Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act make up the three pillars of our nation’s health care system,” Senator Durbin said. “Democrats will not stand idly by while congressional Republicans – who themselves are assured good health coverage – attempt to repeal, dismantle, cut, voucherize, or otherwise throw our entire health system into chaos. We cannot and will not turn our backs on the millions of seniors who depend on Medicare for their medical care, nor will we allow congressional Republicans to rip health coverage away from millions of lower-income families nationwide. A vote on this amendment is very simple: you either stand on the side of seniors and families of modest means … or you don’t.”

“Republicans are preparing to pull the thread that would unravel our health system and turn affordable care into chaos,” Senator Stabenow said.  “Millions of seniors in Michigan and across the country rely on guaranteed benefits from Medicare for their health care and Medicaid for nursing home care. I am committed to improving care and lowering costs for families, not recklessly dismantling our health system and gutting Medicare and Medicaid.”

“More than half of all New Mexicans depend on health coverage from either Medicare or Medicaid,” Senator Udall said. “Privatizing Medicare or slashing funding for Medicaid would have devastating consequences for the families across New Mexico who rely on these critical programs, and would be disastrous for state economies and budgets. I am standing with Senate Democrats as we fight tooth and nail to protect the health care and economic security of seniors and families in New Mexico and across the country.” 

“Medicare and Medicaid are pillars of health and economic security for seniors and millions of other Americans,” Senator Van Hollen said. “Republicans seem hell-bent on radically changing our health care system, so we must protect these important lifelines.”

“Medicare represents our promise to all Americans of a dignified retirement with access to good health care.  And Medicaid represents our promise that those fighting to make ends meet won’t be denied the care they need,” Senator Whitehouse said. “No matter how hard Republicans try, we must never break these promises." 

“Medicare’s promise of guaranteed benefits is an ironclad vow between the American people and their government - any attempt to privatize the program and undermine that promise must be stopped in its tracks,” Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden said. “Threats to Medicaid being discussed would undercut the health care of millions of American children and families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities.”

The Hirono-Donnelly amendment would create a budget point of order to prevent changes to Medicare that raise the eligibility age, change eligibility requirements, or privatize and voucherize the program. The amendment would also prevent changes to Medicaid that reduce state funding from current levels. Any changes to either program would require a supermajority in Congress.

Nearly one in three American families depend on Medicare and Medicaid for their health care needs.