Hochul, Higgins Celebrate 45th Anniversary of Medicare

September 27, 2013 Updated Jul 1, 2011 at 3:18 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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Hochul, Higgins Celebrate 45th Anniversary of Medicare

September 27, 2013 Updated Jul 1, 2011 at 3:18 PM EDT

Washington, D.C. (WKBW release) -- New York Congressmembers Kathy Hochul and Brian Higgins celebrated the 45th Anniversary of the implementation of Medicare at the Amherst Center for Senior Services.

“One of the greatest accomplishments America ever achieved was the passing of Medicare,” said Hochul. “Before the implementation of this crucial program, nearly half our seniors lived without healthcare and nearly one-third of seniors lived in poverty. Today, Americans are under attack by the Republican budget that would decimate Medicare. Instead of reforming Medicare and ensuring Medicare’s solvency, the supporters of the Ryan budget want to turn Medicare into a voucher program that would break the promises made to our seniors over 45 years ago.”

“For four and a half decades Medicare has been the lifeline for our parents and grandparents and this proposal would cut them loose with no real forethought on the devastating impact it would have on the health and economic security of our seniors,” said Higgins. “For the over 460,000 beneficiaries in Western New York, Medicare means affordable prescription medications, preventive care and out-of-pocket costs. The Veteran’s Administration has successfully used their collective buying power to drive down the costs of prescription drugs. A similar strategy with Medicare would create enormous savings in the program without abandoning our seniors.”

On April 15, 2011, House Republicans passed the Ryan budget that would transform Medicare from guaranteed health care for seniors into a voucher program that would require Americans, now under age 55, to buy private insurance when they turn 65. This voucher program would reduce benefits, raise costs, and force seniors to argue with insurance companies for coverage.

Instead of essentially ending Medicare, Representatives Hochul and Higgins support cutting the underlying costs of health care; ensuring the long-term solvency of the program that millions of American seniors have come to rely on.

The two support leveraging the purchasing power of prescription drugs; removing waste, fraud and abuse; and implementing tele-health services to save time and costs.

Today, Medicare provides comprehensive health care coverage to 47 million Americans, including 39 million seniors and 8 million people under 65 with disabilities. Medicare provides a guaranteed set of benefits, at affordable premiums.