>WASHINGTON- In this week’s address, President Obama spoke to the American people about reducing the nation’s deficit and creating jobs across the country. The President emphasized the need for Government to live within its means— just as families do—in order to put the nation on a fiscally sustainable path which is critical to long-term economic growth and job creation. To solve the deficit problem, Democrats and Republicans must make tough choices and look at every tax loophole and program for opportunities to save money. President Obama stressed the importance of trimming the budget while also making critical investments in education, research, and technology to spur job growth and invest in our future. As families and friends join together to celebrate Independence Day, the President reminded Americans that since our founding, we have overcome challenges by coming together to solve our nation’s problems.
Category Archives: Medicare
Republican leaders and conservative pundits have spun Democrat Kathy Hochuls upset win in New Yorks 26th Congressional District as exceptional with peculiar ballot lines, Tea Party independents, quality of the candidates, and Democratic message discipline. We concede: yard signs in Upstate New York did read Save Medicare: Vote Hochul. But our national poll completed on Wednesday shows that New Yorks 26th is not alone. It is an advance indicator of a sharp pull back from Republicans, particularly those in the House.
Disapproval of the Republicans in the House of Representatives has surged from 46 percent in February to 55 percent in April to a striking 59 percent now. Disapproval outnumbers approval two-to-one; intense disapproval by three-to-one. For the first time in more than a year, the Democrats are clearly even in the named Congressional ballot an 8-point swing from the election and Obama has made a marked gain in his job approval and vote against Mitt Romney with the President now leading by 4 points. This period captured the introduction of the Republican budget plan and vote by the House and voters do not like what they see.
Perhaps most notably, this survey flags a major retreat from the Republican approach to deficits and spending, the economy, and jobs. As the Republicans have unveiled their plans and approach during this four-month debate on the deficit, priorities and the economy, they have pushed many voters away.
On Wednesday, Democracy Corps will release a major multi-study report on the economy and economic messaging, but we wanted to release these political findings before the holiday weekend.
The memo and frequency questionnaire can be found at:
>Congressman Rush Holt will join federal Medicare officials to host two town hall forums in central New Jersey. Please join him to share your thoughts, ideas, and concerns about the future of Medicare.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Monroe Township Public Library
4 Municipal Plaza
Monroe Township, NJ 08831
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
East Brunswick Senior Center
2 Jean Walling Civic Center Drive
East Brunswick, NJ 08816
“Last month, the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives passed, over my objections, a radical and far-reaching national budget for 2012. The proposed budget would end Medicare as we know it. Under this plan, if you are under 55 years of age, when you retire you would receive a voucher from the federal government and then fend for yourself on the private insurance market. The value of these vouchers is designed to shrink, relative to the cost of health care, each year – so seniors would be required to pay ever-growing out-of-pocket costs in order to maintain the same quality of health care.
Fortunately, the Senate has not voted on the Republican Medicare privatization plan, so there is still time to protect Medicare. I firmly believe that we need a national budget that strengthens our middle class, not weakens it, and I look forward to hearing your ideas at this week’s forum on how we can best achieve that goal. “
– Congressman Rush Holt
>By Congressman Steve Rothman(D-NJ9)
We must not end Medicare: Too many American seniors would suffer or die prematurely if we did.
WHAT WOULD you say to someone who told you that in order to save something, you’d have to kill it?
On April 15, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted, 235-193, to end Medicare for Americans who are currently under the age of 55. No Democrat voted in favor of the plan.
For those tens of millions affected, and for all future generations, the Republican plan ends Medicare and “privatizes” health care for American seniors. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the plan, if acted upon, would create a voucher system in place of Medicare. The U.S. government would assign approximately $8,000 to purchase private health insurance for each senior once he or she turned 67 years of age. If they were ill or older, the voucher amount would be slightly higher. But under the Republican plan, the average senior would see their out-of-pocket health care costs double to $12,150 per year, $6,400 more than today — not including co-pays.
Under the Republican plan, there would be no more government lifetime coverage, as we currently have it under Medicare. If you could not afford a private health care premium because you had a preexisting condition (for example, high blood pressure, diabetes, breast cancer, asthma, lupus, heart condition, hip, back or knee surgery) you’d have to find the money to pay whatever premium the private marketplace would charge. The government, under the Republican plan, would not even limit the amount the private market could charge. And so, if you could not afford to purchase a private health insurance plan at the age of 67 or older, for any reason, you’d be uninsured. An American senior citizen, without any health insurance.
Imagine the suffering, pain and terror for those tens of millions of seniors under those circumstances. Where would they turn? Charity? Family members? Early death? And why?
Yes, the United States has a $1.4 trillion annual deficit and a $14 trillion national debt. But what are the best and fairest ways to deal with those extremely serious problems? Should we rely on shared sacrifice in the American tradition, or put the burden disproportionately on the backs of seniors and the middle class?
To me, the Republican plan is at best a misguided approach to solving our nation’s common problems. At worst, the Republican plan reflects their undiminished zeal to “shrink” government by eliminating programs most Americans rely on, including Medicare. As a result, however, this would hurt the middle class and most Americans, leaving only the rich and super-rich to be assured of a good education for their children and affordable health care for them and their children, when they retire.
Remember that the median income for seniors in America in 2009 was $19,167; with most seniors having at least one chronic condition and many having multiple chronic conditions. Can you imagine the premiums they’d have to pay to get health insurance at age 67 and older?
Medicare was created in 1965 precisely because the private market failed to provide seniors with affordable and quality health care. Before Medicare, nearly half of American seniors had no health insurance, and nearly 35 percent lived in poverty. Thus, for me, leaving U.S. seniors again at the mercy of private health insurance companies is an absolute non-starter. We must not end Medicare. Too many American seniors would suffer or die prematurely if we did.
As for our extremely important deficit and debt problems, I believe that all options should be on the table, with sacrifices shared by all, according to assets owned and annual income. That means that the following items must be considered: making additional cuts in spending, including defense; reducing income and capital gains tax deductions for earnings over $350,000 per year; reforming our tax code to prevent individuals and companies from avoiding all tax liabilities; partially, and in some cases completely, eliminating subsidies to America’s richest families; reducing or eliminating subsidies to agribusiness, big oil and gas; ending or proportionately scaling back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans; and, additional cost control measures to the health care reform law, including a public option.
House Republicans argue that it is necessary to end Medicare in order to balance the federal budget, albeit with continued tax breaks for individuals and companies making millions and billions of dollars in income per year. Forcing seniors and the middle class to bear a disproportionate burden in solving our nation’s fiscal crisis is, in my opinion, unfair and unnecessary. The better, more typically American way to address our common problems is with shared sacrifice and fairness.
Medicare is an essential and successful American program that has worked extremely well for the past 46 years. It makes possible a longer and healthier life for millions of our seniors. It is, also, often the difference between life and death. We must not end Medicare.
>WASHINGTON – In his weekly address, President Obama said that to restore fiscal responsibility, we all need to share in the sacrifice – but we don’t have to sacrifice the America we believe in. Earlier this week, the President proposed a balanced approach to cut the deficit, which matches the $4 trillion in deficit reduction put forward by House Republicans’ plan. The President’s proposal does this by combing the entire budget for savings and asking everyone to do their part. The Republican plan, though, would end Medicare as we know it and make drastic cuts to education, infrastructure and clean energy, while giving away $1 trillion in tax breaks to the wealthiest two percent.
The President discusses a new Medicare Trustees report showing Medicare to be on much stronger footing as a result of the reforms in the Affordable Care Act. In addition, seniors are also already getting help with prescription drug costs when they fall into the infamous “donut hole.”
See more about Health Care
Yesterday marked the 45th anniversary of when LBJ created a single payer health care system for millions of older Americans, called Medicare, so I thought that I would honor that great achievement with a cartoon this morning.
Jof the cat pricks his finger and must go to the hospital. doctors try to perform ridiculous tests on him but he manages to escape. I think Jof was worried that he didn’t have insurance.
For Immediate Release –
Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) announced starting June 10, Medicare will begin mailing out to tens of thousands of seniors $250 ‘donut hole’ checks. Under the recently enacted health reform law, seniors who fall in the donut hole coverage gap in 2010 will receive this one-time tax-free $250 rebate check. These checks will continue to be mailed monthly over the next several months as seniors enter the coverage gap.
The checks are just the first benefit from health reform for seniors in the Medicare Prescription Drug program. Beginning in January 2011, seniors in the donut hole will receive a 50 percent discount on brand name drugs. By 2020, the donut hole will be completely closed.
“This is the first example of how the health care reform law will strengthen Medicare and help seniors,” said Pallone. “In the past, seniors who have fallen into the Medicare donut hole were forced to choose between food and prescriptions. Health reform is fixing these problems. Important reforms like this will continue to phase in throughout the year and make health care more affordable and accessible for millions of New Jersey’s seniors.”
The ‘donut hole’ coverage gap is the period in the prescription drug benefit (once their prescription drug costs exceed $2,830) in which the beneficiary pays 100 percent of the cost of their drugs until they hit the catastrophic coverage threshold.
Last year, roughly 109,000 Medicare beneficiaries in New Jersey fell in the donut hole and received no extra help to defray the cost of their prescription drugs. Now, under health reform, help is on the way.
Medicare recipients don’t have to do anything to get the $250 check – once their drug costs for the year hit $2,830 the one-time check will be issued automatically. But seniors should be on the lookout for fraud. Seniors who want to learn more about this new benefit or how to protect themselves from fraud or scams should call 1-800-Medicare, visit http://www.medicare.gov, or contact the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) 1-800-792-8820 or http://www.state.nj.us/health/senior/ship.shtml.
The health insurance reform legislation, as it is taking shape and which I have supported in the House Committee on Education and Labor, would benefit Central New Jersey residents with and without insurance in three primary ways by:
• Establishing important consumer protections for all those Americans now with health insurance. For instance, insurers would be prohibited from excluding coverage or charging more based on pre-existing conditions like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or pregnancy. Insurers also would be prohibited from dropping your coverage if you become sick and would be prohibited from setting annual or lifetime limits beyond which the insurer refuses to pay, leaving your family faced with bankruptcy. Insurance companies would have to spend more (at least 80 percent) of each premium dollar on actually providing healthcare.
• Creating an insurance store for those not well served by the system now. Those between jobs, employees of small businesses, or those who do not get coverage through their work would be able to purchase health insurance at group rates. All companies offering plans in the store would need to cover a comprehensive set of necessary services and abide by all the consumer protection standards. Among the plans from which a person could choose would be at least one offered on a not-for-profit basis, probably run by the government. Through competition and choice, coverage would be more affordable and accountable and would provide care better aligned with the best medical standards.
• Strengthening health care for seniors. The proposal would strengthen Medicare in a number of important ways, including emphasizing more primary and preventive care, eliminating the doughnut hole in the Medicare prescription drug benefit, reducing redundant tests or unnecessary procedures, and eliminating wasteful subsidies to insurance companies.
These are the principal parts of the health insurance reform. The proposal also would increase the number of primary care doctors and expand the number of nurses and expand preventive and wellness care. Additionally, the proposal would provide tax credits to small businesses to help them provide coverage to their employees.
This is what the reform proposal would mean for you. What reform would NOT mean – despite the claims of vocal opponents of reform – is rationing, government takeover of health care, health insurance for illegal immigrants, or government “death panels.” Read more about the myths perpetuated about health insurance reform.
This is an important debate that we are having. Our health insurance system is broken. Americans are living sicker, dying younger, and paying more than we should or than residents of other major countries do. We already are spending more than enough. In 2009, overall health care spending throughout the U.S. is projected to reach $8,160 per person. This should be more than sufficient to provide affordable and excellent care for everyone, yet 16 percent of New Jerseyans lacked insurance in 2007 and family insurance premiums are projected to rise from $14,000 in 2009 to $24,000 in 2019. Feedback from you is important to me as I work in Congress to fix this broken system.
Town Hall Meeting in Middletown
I will be holding my next town hall meeting tomorrow, August 26 at 7 p.m. in Middletown. Wednesday’s meeting will be held at the Middletown Arts Center, which is located at 36 Church Street.
I frequently convene town hall meetings throughout the five counties and forty-four towns of the 12th Congressional District. The purpose of these town hall meetings is for you to tell me about issues that are affecting you, your family, and our community, and for me to update you on some of the work that I have been doing in Washington D.C. and in New Jersey. I look forward to talking with you about health insurance reform or any other issues on your mind.
If you are unable to attend this town hall, I will be hosting other town meetings regularly, I announce the meetings in the eGenda and on holt.house.gov. And of course, you can always write, call, or fax me. If you have any questions about the town meeting, please call me free at 1-87-RUSH-HOLT. Thank you, and I hope to see you in Middletown.