Hoyer Statement at Steering & Policy Committee Hearing on Medicare

For Immediate Release:

October 2, 2012

Contact:

Katie Grant, 202-225-3130

WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) joined Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats at a Steering & Policy Committee Hearing entitled, "Saving Medicare for Seniors Today and in the Future." Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

“I appreciate this opportunity to discuss the dangerous impact of the Ryan-Romney-Republican House budget on Medicare and the positive impact of the Affordable Care Act Democrats passed in 2010.

“After the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Americans are still working hard to make ends meet and pursue the opportunities promised by the American Dream.  Before we enacted health reform, seniors and those nearing retirement faced an environment of uncertainty and rising costs. But, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Medicare beneficiaries can breathe a little easier today.

“Not only are a host of preventive services, like mammograms and colonoscopies, available for free, but the 'donut hole' is closing, and the Medicare trust fund will be solvent for an additional eight years.

“A report from the Department Of Health And Human Services released last week shows the progress health reform has made.  It found that the average American with traditional Medicare will save $5,000 from 2010 to 2022 as a result of the Affordable Care Act.  Moreover, those who have high prescription drug costs will save more than $18,000 during the same period.  In the first eight months of this year alone, over 19 million Americans have accessed at least one free preventive service that used to cost beneficiaries out of pocket.  Since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, more than 5.5 million Americans have saved nearly $4.5 billion on prescription drugs as a result of its closing the 'donut hole.'

“The Ryan-Romney-Republican budget, however, would gut these reforms and place more of the cost burden onto the backs of our seniors than ever before. Not only would it defund the new benefits included in the Affordable Care Act, but it would end Medicare as we know it by instituting a voucher system.

“Their budget would leave seniors on Medicare paying over $6,000 a year out of pocket in health care costs, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. And the Ryan-Romney-Republican plan isn’t ending Medicare in order to balance the budget – their budget doesn’t balance until 2040 – but to afford huge tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. 

“That is simply the wrong approach – and one that fails to put America’s seniors first.

“In fact, a study out today by the non-partisan Commonwealth Fund shows that Romney-Ryan health care policies would leave as many as 45 million more Americans uninsured over the next decade compared to the Affordable Care Act and the President’s policies.

“I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about their hopes for Medicare in the wake of the Affordable Care Act and their concerns resulting from threats by House Republicans to institute a voucher system in its place.

“Our seniors cannot afford to turn the clock back, and neither can this nation if we wish to continue providing our people with opportunities and preserving faith in the American Dream.”

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