Connolly Votes Against Plan to Dismantle Medicare

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Rep. Gerald Connolly

Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) voted against final House passage of the Republican’s fiscal year 2012 budget plan Friday, April 15, noting it would dismantle the Medicare program for America’s seniors.

“I could not support the Republican majority’s draconian budget plan that would destroy the Medicare program and break faith with our seniors,” Connolly said after the vote.  “Denying and rationing medical care for seniors, increasing out-of-pocket costs for medical services and prescription drugs, and putting the fate of our seniors in the hands of the private insurance companies do not represent my values or the values of most Virginians or Americans.”

Connolly pointed out that before Medicare was enacted in 1965 about half of all senior citizens lacked any form of health insurance, compared to today where every senior has access to health care coverage through Medicare.

The House passed the bill Friday afternoon by a vote of 235-193.  It was opposed by every House Democrat and a handful of Republicans.

Connolly said the House-passed legislation would force seniors to pay about $7,000 more each year in premiums and co-insurance fees and it would reopen the Medicare Part D doughnut hole that forced seniors to pay thousands of dollars for prescription drugs.  “Not one dollar of the increased costs to seniors would be used to reduce the deficit,” Connolly said.  “Instead, the Republican plan lines the pockets of the private insurance companies.”

Instead of receiving guaranteed health care under Medicare, seniors would receive vouchers to help them pay for private insurance.  Unfortunately, the Republican-passed budget for next year also repeals important reforms prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, Connolly said.  “This puts every senior with a pre-existing condition at risk.  Even those who can afford the increased costs of privatized care could find themselves denied insurance due to a pre-existing condition,” he said.

“This budget shreds the contract that this country has with seniors after a life time of work,” Connolly said.  “By slashing Medicare, it takes away the last protection for seniors late in life and forces them to fend for themselves at a time when they are most susceptible to illness, disease, and injury.”

Noting that the cost of health care for seniors would double within 10 years and triple by 2030 under the legislation, Connolly said, “I was proud to stand with America’s seniors in the fight to save Medicare.”

The Virginia congressman cited a letter from 192 economists and health care experts warning that the legislation “would undermine essential protections for millions of vulnerable people.”

“This bill won’t reduce health care costs, it just shifts the burden to our individual seniors,” Connolly said.  “I could not support a Path to the Past which returns us to the law of the jungle and the survival of the fittest, throwing the young, the elderly, the sick and the disadvantaged to their own fate.”

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Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.