Van Hollen Statement on 45th Anniversary of Medicare

Jun 30, 2011 Issues:

Washington, DC – Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, released the following statement in advance of tomorrow’s 45th anniversary of the July 1, 1966, launch of the Medicare program:

“Forty-five years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson presided over the nationwide implementation of the Medicare program as one of the crowning achievements of his Great Society program. At its start, Medicare served over 19 million beneficiaries. Today, Medicare has an estimated 49 million beneficiaries – one of every six Americans. Since its implementation it has served an estimated 93 million elderly and disabled Americans with access to quality, affordable health care services.

“On that historic day in 1966, President Johnson proclaimed, ‘This program is not just a blessing for older Americans. It is a test for all Americans – a test of our willingness to work together.’ This statement holds particular significance today as Republicans are attempting to end the Medicare guarantee and send millions of seniors into the private insurance market without the protections and quality services provided by the current Medicare program. An estimated 63 million seniors and disabled people are expected to be eligible for Medicare by the year 2020, and it is deeply troubling that our Republican colleagues voted to end the Medicare guarantee.

“Democrats understand that rising health care costs present a challenge we must address to put our country on a sustainable fiscal path. Democrats have already begun to take steps to preserve, protect, and strengthen the Medicare system as part of a comprehensive initiative to make health care work better for everyone in this country. The Affordable Care Act took strong and immediate steps to put Medicare on a more sustainable footing. It strengthened the Medicare program, while also lowering the costs of the program to the taxpayer. It included nearly every cost-containment provision experts recommended and it began to shift Medicare toward a system where doctors and hospitals are rewarded for the quality of care that they provide, rather than quantity. This improves the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries, and it lowers the cost to taxpayers.

  “I am proud to celebrate this 45th anniversary of Medicare at a time when    Democrats are fighting tooth-and-nail to preserve the promise that we have made to millions and millions of Americans. I hope our Republican colleagues will change course and join us in that effort.”