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Preserving the Medicare contract

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Rep. Tammy Baldwin
April 20, 2011

I was raised by my maternal grandparents in Madison from 2 months of age. I was lucky they were there for me when I needed them. At that time in their lives, still working at demanding jobs, my grandparents should have been enjoying whatever leisure time they had. Instead, they made many sacrifices on my behalf.


When I was a young adult, our roles reversed and I cared for my Nana as she grew more frail. I saw first-hand the importance of Medicare in her life. Because of Medicare, she benefited from affordable, quality health care. Because of Medicare, she wasn’t bankrupted by high medical costs. And, because of Medicare, I was able to care for her and establish my own career not saddled by debt.


Medicare is a contract we make with our seniors that if you work hard, play by the rules and contribute a fair share in your earning years, then you will have medical care in your senior years. For decades, Medicare has kept millions of our senior citizens from living out their days in poverty.


Just three days after they introduced it, without the support of any Democrats, Republicans in the House passed their plan to break that contract and end Medicare as we know it. Their plan would privatize Medicare, cut benefits and force seniors to buy insurance on their own from insurance companies. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, under the Republican plan, most elderly people will pay more for medical care and get less than they do under Medicare.


The Republican plan would re-open the Part D prescription drug doughnut hole, and seniors would immediately begin paying higher costs for their medications. And, under their plan, the cost to beneficiaries of Medicare coverage would go from the current $5,538 to $12,513 in 2022, and those costs would continue to rise.


Not one dollar of that increase in beneficiary costs goes to reducing the deficit—it all goes to cover the higher costs of private plans that the Republicans would force seniors to join.


The Republican attack on Medicare is an assault on America’s seniors and their families. Thankfully, both President Obama and Democratic leaders in the Senate have made it clear that they will block any effort to privatize Medicare. As your representative in Congress, I will oppose any effort to break the contract that this country has made with our seniors and will continue to seek prudent and responsible ways to reduce the federal deficit.


Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, represents Wisconsin’s 2nd Congressional District. Readers can contact her by mail at 2446 Rayburn, Washington, D.C., 20515; phone (202) 225-2906.

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