January 09, 2017

Hirono: Fight continues to protect Medicare and Medicaid

Hirono-Donnelly Amendment earns two Republican votes, but falls short of the 60 needed to pass

Senator Mazie K. Hirono vowed to keep up the fight to protect Medicare and Medicaid after all but two Republican Senators voted against her amendment to prevent any changes to either program without a supermajority in the Senate.

“During the campaign, President-elect Trump promised not to cut Medicare and Medicaid. Senate Republicans broke this promise tonight and demonstrated that they are willing to sell-out seniors and working families in their crusade to repeal Obamacare,” Senator Hirono said. “But tonight’s vote has not dimmed my resolve. I will do everything in my power to protect Medicare and Medicaid for families in Hawaii and across the country.”

After hosting a press conference with Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Senator Hirono took to the floor to share the story of Anne and Lanny Bruder from Kauai who depend on Medicare to treat Anne’s glaucoma and Lanny’s heart condition.

“Like many of our kupuna living on a fixed income, they simply could not afford the extra $6,000 a year they would be forced to pay if Republicans succeed in their effort to privatize and voucherize Medicare,” Senator Hirono said.

The Hirono-Donnelly amendment would have created 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.

The Hirono-Donnelly amendment has 29 co-sponsors, including Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

A wide range of organizations supported the amendment, including AARP, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, SEIU, National Education Association, Healthcare Association of Hawaii, Hawaii Public Health Association, and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

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