July 31, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) spoke on the Senate floor to recognize the importance of Medicare and Medicaid in providing essential health coverage to Maine people – especially Maine seniors. Senator King’s speech comes one day after the 53rd anniversary of the programs being signed into law.
“53 years ago this week, President Johnson signed the Medicare bill -- I believe one of the most important pieces of legislation signed in the last 100 years,” said Senator King. “It finally removed from the shoulders of the senior citizens of this country the burden, the stress, the cost, the anxiety of not knowing whether they were going to be able to pay for health care, for hospitalization, for doctors’ visits, and then later for prescription drugs… in 1965, when Medicare was passed, a third of senior citizens in the country lived in poverty. One-third lived in poverty and in fear of losing everything if they were stricken by a health catastrophe or even a minor health problem that they could not deal with. Over the next 53 years this [number] comes down to 9.3% of seniors living in poverty. It has declined by two-thirds largely because of Medicare.
“But as I stand here today, there are people in this Congress who are essentially talking about scrapping it. And they use all kinds of fancy language about premium support and those kinds of things. They don't really want to really do away with Medicare. Make no mistake: premium support equals vouchers, and vouchers equals the end of Medicare as we know it. This is a horrible, no-good, rotten, lousy idea, and we shouldn't do it. It will decline, it will diminish the support for the program and ultimately put the burden back on seniors for paying the cost of their health care. And this whole idea of vouchers – who, when they are 85 or 90 years old, wants to sort through ten different insurance policies, compare deductibles and co-pays, and try to figure it all out? I don't think that's practical. I think it's a cruel joke on our seniors. As long as I'm here, I'm going to do everything I can to call out this idea for what it is: a cruel, a cruel swipe at the protection for seniors that Medicare has provided.”
Senator King is a strong supporter of Medicare and Medicaid, and is an original cosponsor of the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act, legislation that would lower prescription drug prices for seniors by allowing Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs. This legislation would help cut costs for nearly 41 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D and boost Medicare savings. He has also supported the Medicare Drug Savings Act, legislation that would eliminate a special deal for brand-name drug manufacturers that allows them to charge Medicare higher prices for prescription drugs for some seniors and people with disabilities, including about 97,000 Mainers.
Senator King has also been active in confronting the other healthcare challenges facing Maine people. Earlier this week, he met with healthcare advocates and patients facing those high costs, and discussed how to find the best solutions through advocacy, legislation and alternative medications. In a floor speech last week, Senator King discussed the administration’s efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA). His speech came soon after his visit to Leavitt’s Mill Free Health Center, where he met with clinic volunteers and patients who feel the effects of continued efforts to sabotage the ACA. Earlier this month, he announced his support for a resolution that would authorize the Senate Legal Counsel to intervene in a legal case challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) provisions protecting people with pre-existing conditions.