Mark Warner - Caricature

Mark Warner - Caricature by DonkeyHotey

 

I have just spent the last eleven months at the bedside of my mother providing Hospice care, until she passed a few weeks ago from a long and painful illness.  Without the support from Medicare, I don’t know how I would have taken care of her over the years, Hospice, Nursing Homes, and prescription medications alone.

I wrote an email to Senator Mark Warner today, strongly urging him to not allow any cuts in Medicare / Medicaid.

This is the response I received:

Dear Ms. Wright,

Thank you for contacting me about Medicare benefits and ensuring the long-term solvency of our Medicare system. I appreciate hearing from you about this important topic.

Millions of seniors in America depend on the Medicare program for their health care needs and they deserve affordable, quality care. However, the program as it now stands is not fiscally sustainable. In May, the Medicare Board of Trustees report projected that Medicare spending will grow from 3.6% of GDP to 5.6% by 2035 and that the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, which funds Part A of Medicare, is projected to be insolvent by 2024. Without meaningful reforms there will be no Medicare in our future; we need to take the responsible and necessary steps now in order to continue to care for our elderly and disabled, and keep our promise to those who have paid into the system.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan released a 2012 budget proposal this spring that would transform Medicare into a voucher program. Under Chairman Ryan’s budget, starting in 2021, seniors would receive a lump sum of money to purchase private health insurance through a newly created national exchange. The Congressional Budget Office estimates this plan would raise out-of-pocket costs for seniors, reduce their benefits and some would even lose their coverage. Further, rather than actually lowering the growth of health care costs, it simply transfers those costs from the government’s balance sheet onto the backs of beneficiaries. When Chairman Ryan’s plan came before the Senate, I voted against it.

Experts agree that there is no “silver bullet” that will solve the problem of growing health care costs; a patchwork of targeted policies must be applied to drive down the growth rate while continuing to ensure quality and value of care. Last year, the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform released its report, which detailed proposals for deficit reduction and included reforming our entitlement programs. In an effort to build on the Commission’s work, Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and I have spent several months working with a bipartisan coalition of Senators who are willing to tackle our debt and deficit challenges to bring fiscal sanity back to the budget process, and we are hopeful that we can produce a reasonable, fair and balanced approach to strengthening entitlement programs, including Medicare.

I want to work on ways to ensure we have sustainable health care programs for Americans now and in the future. I understand that uncertainty about Medicare’s future causes great concern among the millions of seniors who rely on it for their primary health care needs. I will fight to ensure any changes to the program preserve the strong health care coverage our seniors deserve and will be phased in over time with predictability and certainty. I recognize that this process will not be easy; however, I believe it is imperative that we engage in a civil and open debate as to what we need and the best use of our resources. It is critical to our nation’s competitiveness in the world economy that we establish policies now that will ensure long term fiscal stability. This will require tough choices, but I believe that addressing our debt and deficit is too important for Congress to put off any longer.

Again, thank you for contacting me. For further information or to sign up for my newsletter please visit my website at http://warner.senate.gov.

Sincerely,

MARK R. WARNER

United States Senator