Thank you, and I appreciate the opportunity to talk particularly about Medicare. But I did want to start by saying the federal budget is a statement of values and priorities. It is every year. It certainly is this year as our nation is facing significant challenges. I believe that we have to put forward a budget that ensure that we can meet our obligations, that we can reduce the deficit, and that we can grow our economy. First, I believe that we must commit to reducing the nation’s deficit in a balanced and fiscally responsible manner.
This means spending cuts, as well as revenue to ensure that we sustain steady economic recovery. Demanding greater efficiency and effectiveness from all sectors of the government is necessary. Both cuts and revenue must protect and grow a robust middle class, incentivize small businesses and domestic manufacturing, and eliminate unnecessary and costly special interest tax deductions.
Second, we must make investments to grow our economy and build our economic competitiveness. This includes investments in education to ensure a skilled workforce; in infrastructure to build and improve roads, bridges, highways, and rail; and in basic research, new technology and innovation – the essentials of a growth economy in the 21st century.
And third, we have to meet our commitments as a nation to our children and to our seniors by protecting benefits and beneficiaries under Medicare and Medicaid. The Republican budget fails to meet all of these essential goals. It fails to reduce the deficit in a balanced way, it fails to protect the middle class, and it fails to protect our seniors.
The fact is, this budget undermines our nation’s historic commitment to our seniors by ending Medicare as we know it. The Republican plan changes Medicare from a system of guaranteed benefits and assurance of coverage for all Americans to a voucher of limited value.
This Republican budget, like last year’s, shifts increase in costs to individual beneficiaries and does nothing to address the causes of growing health care costs. So, as costs rise, it is seniors who will bear the financial burden. And our frailest, sickest seniors, deep cuts to Medicaid – which pays for nursing home care for millions of seniors and disabled Americans – well, the results could be devastating.
It does not have to be this way. The Republican budget chooses to end Medicare guarantees, while protecting tax breaks for the wealthiest. They choose to shift rising costs to individual seniors rather than focus on cost containment for all seniors and all Americans.
Let's be clear, the budget reduces benefits and shifts costs for current seniors and certainly for future seniors.
We should tackle the rate in growth in costs for seniors and Medicare by focusing on delivery and payment systems, on getting greater value for our dollar, and focusing on prevention and primary care, which this budget also repeals.
Medicare is a promise to all American seniors. The Republican budget breaks that promise and risks the health and economic security for our seniors.
We will have more discussion in the amendment process on how to modernize and strengthen Medicare and Medicaid without breaking that promise to our seniors.
With that, I want to yield three minutes to Congresswoman Kathy Castor from Florida.