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“Looking For Medicare Solutions, Not Politics As Usual”

May 26, 2011 | Blog

For me, Medicare is not a political talking point. My
parents immigrated to the United States in the late 1950s. They worked hard for
over 40 years to provide their children the chance to do all the things they
themselves could not. But they never made much money.

As a result, they retired with precious little in
savings. Medicare was and is the only way they could access healthcare.

When my father got sick, Medicare paid for his numerous
hospital stays. And as he reached the end of life, Medicare allowed him to die
with dignity by paying for his hospice care.

Like most 80-year-olds, my mother has several age-related
ailments. Without the access to quality healthcare that Medicare pays for, I
cannot imagine what life would be like for her.

America needs Medicare. We need it to continue without
any benefit reductions for those like my mother currently in the system. And we
need it to survive for my generation and my children’s generation.

But Medicare is going bankrupt. Anyone who says it is not
is simply lying. And anyone who is in favor of doing nothing to deal with this
fact is in favor of bankrupting it. Medicare will go broke in as little as nine
years. No one likes this news, but it is the undeniable truth. And the sooner
we begin to deal with it, the better off we are all going to be.

My goals are simple. First, I will not support any plan
that changes Medicare for people like my mother who are currently on the plan.
We cannot ask seniors to go out and get a job to pay for their healthcare.

Second, any solution must solve the problem. We need to
save Medicare, not simply delay its bankruptcy.

And third, any solution cannot hurt economic growth. At a
time of high unemployment, Americans cannot afford to pay more taxes.

I will support any serious plan that accomplishes these
three things. It does not matter to me if it comes from a Democrat or a
Republican. Saving Medicare is more important than partisan politics.

Rep. Paul Ryan has offered a plan that would make no
changes whatsoever for anyone age 55 and older. I support it because, right
now, it is the only plan out there that helps save Medicare. Democrats oppose
it. Fine. But, if they have a better way to save Medicare, what are they
waiting for to show us? What is their plan to save Medicare?

Either show us how Medicare survives without any changes
or show us what changes you propose we make. Anyone who supports doing nothing
is a supporter of bankrupting Medicare.

Where is the House Democrat plan to save Medicare?

Where is the Senate Democrat plan to save Medicare?

Where is President Obama’s plan to save Medicare?

They have no plan to save it, and they do not plan to
offer one. They have decided that winning their next election is more important
than saving Medicare for my mother and retirees like her.

I have been in the Senate just long enough to be
disgusted by the reality that Washington has too many people who think their
personal political careers are more important than our country’s future.

Maybe the Democrats’ strategy to use Medicare as a
political weapon will work. Maybe not offering their own plan to save Medicare
will help them win seats in Congress and re-elect President Barack Obama. Maybe
it is great for the Democratic Party. But it is terrible for people like my
mother, and it is terrible for America.

Medicare is going bankrupt. If something does not happen
soon, in just a few years whoever is in charge in Washington will have to go to
people like my mother and tell them we can no longer afford to continue
providing her with the same Medicare she is used to.

We have always had intense partisan politics in America.
But throughout our history, on issues of generational importance, our leaders
have agreed to put aside politics for the sake of our country. Shouldn’t saving
Medicare be that kind of issue?

I am ready to work with anyone in Washington who is
serious about saving Medicare. I am open to any serious solutions they have.

We are running out of time to save Medicare for our
parents and secure it for our children. If we fail, history will never forgive
us.

You can also read this op-ed here.