Focus on patients, not politics: Securing Medicare for our seniors

By Scott Tipton

We must keep the promise to our senior citizens by protecting Medicare and Social Security.

Currently, Medicare is on an unsustainable path. If Washington fails to act, the Medicare trustees — made up primarily of members of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet — report Medicare will be bankrupt by 2024.

I support a plan that ensures today’s seniors and those a decade away from retiring receive all of their benefits in full, while strengthening and securing Medicare for future generations.

Just last month, I held three town hall meetings, including one in Grand Junction, where the topics of Medicare and Social Security were discussed. I heard many diverse viewpoints on the issues at these meetings, which were open to all.

In addition to the town hall meetings, I have visited dozens of senior centers and formed a committee of local seniors from all backgrounds to gather thoughtful feedback and comments about Medicare.

The message I have received from the majority of seniors in the 3rd Congressional District is clear: Any health care or budget solution should strengthen Medicare and secure it for future generations.

I helped ensure this was incorporated in the Republican budget, which we passed in the House earlier this year. The Republican budget keeps Medicare as it is for those 55 and older, while strengthening and sustaining the program for our children and grandchildren.

While the House has passed the plan, the Senate has failed to fulfill the promise to seniors for more than 850 days, refusing to pass a budget and put forward a plan to protect Medicare and Social Security.

The Republican budget strengthens Medicare and increases affordability by targeting waste, fraud and abuse, which, according to Medicare’s chief actuary, costs as much as $150 billion each year. Our plan roots out the causes of waste, fraud and abuse and fixes the problem.

Our plan expands access to care, giving future retirees the choice to select from competing health care plans that best meet their needs, offering the same options and choices that members of Congress have.

When Congress passed the president’s health care plan last year, he said it would expand access and affordability to care. However, his plan missed this mark entirely.

The president’s plan raided $500 billion from Medicare to fund his health care mandate at the expense of seniors. Not only did the plan fail to increase affordability, it restricts access to health care by empowering a board of 15 arbitrarily appointed bureaucrats to unilaterally decide when and how to cut Medicare funding.

Under the law, the president’s appointees to the Independent Payment Advisory Board are guaranteed a six-figure salary and terms longer than the president and members of Congress. This setup ensures that those in charge of running what is essentially the president’s “Medicare IRS” never personally feel the pain of the cuts they make.

There is no oversight from the courts, no appeals process and no accountability for the 15 people in control of life-and-death decisions for hundreds of millions of Americans. They have the unilateral authority to decide what cuts should be made to Medicare, even to the extent of revising laws passed by Congress, without congressional approval.

I’m concerned that the IPAB will restrict patients’ access to their doctors and even make decisions that will limit access to important treatments and care.

To add insult to injury, there is no requirement that the members of IPAB have medical backgrounds — placing decisions currently made between patients and their doctors in the hands of people with no health care experience.

Is this the future of American health care? Seniors in my district don’t think so. Neither do I.

As we work to ensure that the promise to seniors is kept and that the future of Medicare is strong and secure, I will continue to fight to:

✓  Protect seniors and those a decade from retirement, ensuring that they receive their promised benefits in full.

✓ Increase accountability and eliminate waste, fraud and abuse.

✓ Provide choice for beneficiaries so that they have the same choices as members of Congress.

✓ Eliminate IPAB and keep critical health care decisions between patients and doctors.

We have an opportunity to work together in Washington to strengthen Medicare. I encourage the Senate to take up the Republican budget, deliver on the promise to seniors, and secure Medicare for future generations.

Scott Tipton represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes most of western Colorado.


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