No wonder people across the country are celebrating Medicare's birthday today.
President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law on July 30, 1965, to provide access to quality, affordable health care for older Americans. Since then, Medicare has been a cornerstone of the health and security of America’s seniors. Today, more than 44 million Americans depend on the program for health care benefits.According to AARP, "before Medicare’s enactment, only half of all older Americans had health insurance. Since that time, poverty among that group has dropped by two-thirds. Medicare has proven critical to the health and economic security of the people it serves."
Unless you live under a rock, you know that Medicare still finds itself under attack from Republicans who seek to privatize the program or reduce benefits. A couple weeks ago, Congress overrode President Bush's veto and passed a bill that stopped pending cuts in payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients. They were supported by the American Medical Association which came down hard on the President and Republicans who supported these cuts. Had they gone into effect, the AMA predicted as many as 60 percent of physicians would have been forced to stop treating new or current Medicare patients.
We can celebrate Medicare's birthday and successes, but we can't let our guard down. It's important that we vote for the candidate who promises to safeguard and strengthen Medicare, and that candidate is not John McCain.
McCain's record speaks for itself. McCain voted to raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67; he voted against protecting seniors from higher Medicare premiums; and he missed a critical vote to reduce prescription drug costs for seniors.
Obama? He fought against cuts to Medicare and worked to lower prescription drug prices for seniors. He also voted to protect seniors from steep increases in their Medicare Part B premiums, an increase they faced because Congress increased Medicare payments to physicians but failed to enact savings from Medicare payments to private health plans. (S. 1932, Vote 287, 11/3/05)
The choice is simple. Obama doesn't want to place added burdens on our seniors. McCain? It takes a lot of chutzpah for a man who's enjoyed a lifetime of government-run health care to treat our seniors this way.
(Cross-posted at BFM.)