July 30th marks the 47th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid. Last week, Vice President Joe Biden, in an address to 100 community leaders representing millions of seniors and their families from across the country, reinforced President Obama's commitment to preserving these two programs on which we all rely. What was apparent from the Vice President's remarks was the stark contrast in values between the Administration and Republicans in Congress, who continue to launch assaults on older Americans by forcing through dangerous proposals that will end Medicare and Medicaid as we currently know them. These proposals will force millions of seniors and individuals with disabilities to pay far more for health care out of family budgets already stretched much too thin in retirement.
This year, Republicans have tried to camouflage their previous attempts to dismantle Medicare and Medicaid through vague assurances and a few minor changes. The plan would cut Medicaid by over $810 billion over the next ten years and converts Medicare into a voucher system. Consequently, seniors and their families who rely on Medicaid as the nation's largest financer of long term care would be forced to go without the services they need and people with Medicare would face significantly higher out of pockets costs. With the election fast approaching and the deficit reduction debate escalating, the fight is far from over.
As demonstrated by stories shared by Medicare beneficiaries prior to the Vice President's address, significant increases in costs will force seniors to make difficult choices between basic necessities, whether it is food, housing, or medical treatment. And it is not just seniors who will feel the impact. As the Vice President said, this is a family issue. At the same time that people are shouldering the costs of sending their kids to college, they will need to find the resources to support their parents -- all while saving for their own retirement, which will be more tenuous if Republicans have their way.
Republicans would like to sacrifice seniors and their families in order to pass tax cuts and perks for corporations and those with incomes above $250,000 a year. Seniors and the nation deserve better, and there is a path forward. President Obama and his partners in Congress have shown us the way through the Affordable Care Act or 'Obamacare', which, unfortunately, is often misunderstood due to misinformation campaigns targeted directly at our nation's seniors.
The truth is that the Affordable Care Act has already improved Medicare's financial outlook, extending the program's expected lifespan by an additional eight years. It does so not by shifting costs onto low and middle income seniors and their families, but rather by eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse, reducing overpayments to private insurance companies, and through innovative policies that will reduce preventable hospitalizations. The ACA improves the Medicaid program as well by expanding coverage, controlling costs and improving services.
We all deserve to age with dignity, and the Affordable Care Act helps to make that possible. Stand with us to protect the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid. Click here to share the above photo of Vice President Joe Biden to show your support of our nation's seniors and their years of hard work and sacrifice to provide for their families.