August 03, 2018

Hirono Introduces Legislation to Protect Medicare and Medicaid from Partisan Attacks

Bill Would Require Supermajority to Make Major Changes to Critical Health Care Programs After Promising to Protect Medicare and Medicaid During Campaign, Donald Trump has Proposed Nearly $2 Trillion in Cuts to both programs in his FY 19 Budget

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mazie K. Hirono and 15 Senate Democrats introduced the Medicare and Medicaid Protect Act, legislation that would protect these cornerstone health care programs from partisan attacks through the budget reconciliation process.

“For the past 53 years, Medicare and Medicaid have provided a crucial lifeline to hundreds of thousands of Hawaii residents who rely on these programs to access health care and long-term nursing care,” Senator Hirono. “But over the past year and a half, Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans have tried to gut Medicaid. They began threatening so-called ‘entitlement reform’—code for Medicare cuts—to rein in the debt and deficit even before ramming through budget busting tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and corporations. This legislation would protect Medicare, Medicaid, and the millions of Americans who depend on these programs.”

The Medicare and Medicaid Protection Act is co-sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).

“The millions of Wisconsinites who rely on Medicare and Medicaid deserve to know that their care will be there when they need it most,” Senator Baldwin said. “We need to protect Medicare and Medicaid and the quality, affordable health care coverage it provides.”

“I will not allow cuts to healthcare Ohioans rely on to pay for handouts to millionaires and corporations that ship jobs overseas,” Senator Brown said.

“Together, Medicare and Medicare provide health insurance for over 100 million Americans, including over 400,000 individuals in Delaware. These vital programs that have provided life-saving care for the past 53 years should not be subject to partisan attacks, and any efforts to improve the care they provide should be considered on a transparent and bipartisan basis with robust input from the public,” Senator Carper said. “I believe we have a moral obligation to protect the least of these in our society, and this legislation upholds that commitment by preserving beneficiaries’ access to Medicare and Medicaid and comprehensive health care for the generation to come.”

“Medicare and Medicaid have empowered millions of Americans to access vital health care over the past century. Yet, Congressional Republicans have not given up their efforts to cut Medicare and eliminate Medicaid for millions of families in Illinois and across the country,” Senator Duckworth said. “It’s clear that the American people must never take Medicare and Medicaid for granted, which is why I am proud to join Senator Hirono and more than a dozen of my colleagues in this effort to protect seniors, Veterans, working families and people with disabilities and ensure they have access to the healthcare they have earned.”

“For more than 50 years, Medicare and Medicaid have been delivering health care to seniors and some of our most vulnerable citizens, including those who experience disabilities,” Senator Hassan said. “Unfortunately, these critical programs have been under constant partisan attacks from the Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress, threatening the health and well-being of countless Granite Staters and Americans. This commonsense bill will help safeguard Medicare and Medicaid from reckless attacks that undermine these vital programs.”

“Millions of Americans rely on Medicare and Medicaid every day for essential health care,” Senator Merkley said. “These programs represent a basic, fundamental compact with America’s working families. The promise of Medicare and Medicaid is a promise that needs to be kept.”

The Medicare and Medicaid Protection act 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 block granting Medicaid or rolling back the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion – policies that would limit resources to states and result in people losing their coverage. Any changes to either program would require a supermajority vote in the Senate.

Earlier this week, Senator Hirono advocated for aggressive action to protect Medicare and Medicaid from partisan attacks as both programs celebrated their 53rd anniversary during a speech on the Senate floor.

The Medicare and Medicaid Protect Action builds on Senator Hirono’s amendment to the FY 2017 Budget Resolution that would have required a supermajority of the Senate to approve major changes to Medicare and Medicaid. The amendment, which was co-sponsored by Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and 32 Senate Democrats, secured bi-partisan support in a 49-47 Senate floor vote, but did not meet the 60 vote threshold necessary for additional consideration.