News release from House Democratic Caucus:
Nashville, TN: After a week’s deliberation, House Republicans introduced a number of “poison-pill” amendments to HJR 80, effectively killing further action on the resolution. HJR 80 honored the Medicare program on its 50th anniversary and expressed opposition to any federal plans to cut funds for the program.
“There are some things above politics and the lives and livelihoods of our senior citizens should be chief among them,” said House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh, sponsor of the resolution. “I’m disappointed that Chairman Williams let these kind of political games go on with such an important issue.”
When Medicare was signed into law 50 years ago, half of this nation’s senior citizens had no access to health care and 35 percent lived in poverty. Today, 52 million Americans rely on Medicare for doctor visits, hospital services and long-term care. Another 37 million access Medicare Part D for prescription drug coverage.
“In Tennessee alone, 1.2 million senior citizens rely on Medicare. It’s not some type of government hand out; they paid into this program. It’s their money, politicians should keep their hands off,” said Fitzhugh.
Medicare has proven to be the most successful, efficient social program in the history of the United States. Between 1969 & 2009, Medicare insurance rates increased 300 percent less than comparable private market insurance plans. By the same token, Medicare spends approximately 1 percent of its funding on overhead, while traditional insurance providers spend 10 percent or better.
“HJR 80 was an opportunity for both parties to stand together in support of Medicare and our senior citizens. Instead of doing that, Chairman Williams and the House Republicans want to play games. If they’re in favor of cutting Medicare, that’s their business, but they should bring their own bill. I won’t let them use mine to hurt senior citizens.”