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News from Congressman Ron Kind
This week marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most successful programs ever created in this country. Medicare provides guaranteed affordable health care for more than 55 million of our nation’s seniors, including over 123,000 seniors in central and western Wisconsin.
Before Medicare, only 51 percent of Americans 65 and older had health care coverage and nearly 30 percent lived below the poverty line. Today, thanks to Medicare, things are drastically different. Nearly all seniors have coverage.
As important as this program is to our seniors and our country, my colleagues across the aisle have continually tried to damage it. They have a plan to do away with traditional Medicare and replace it with a voucher program — forcing seniors to find health care for themselves, re-opening the prescription drug ‘donut hole’ and doubling out of pocket health expenses. I will continue to oppose policies that undermine the stability of the Medicare program.
Despite the large scale success of Medicare, work can still be done to protect and improve the program. In order to continue to allow millions of Americans to remain independent and financially secure, we must contain cost growth, while maintaining essential benefits and protections.
The Affordable Care Act works to improve our health care delivery system so that all health care, including guaranteed Medicare benefits, are more integrated, coordinated, and patient-focused.
Seniors in western and central Wisconsin have already begun to see the positive effects on the ACA. It immediately lowered prescription drug costs for thousands of seniors in Wisconsin stuck in the ‘donut hole’ and will close it altogether by 2020. Additionally, the reform eliminated Medicare co-payments for preventive care so that seniors will pay nothing on recommended preventive services that will keep them healthier longer.
To reduce health care costs, we don’t need to make dramatic cuts to Medicare that destroy the program as we know it; we need to reform our health care system to pay for the value of care given and not the volume of care. This is how health care providers in Wisconsin are providing better care at a better price. And this is how we can increase efficiency and ensure affordable health care coverage for years to come.