We owe our seniors respect, gratitude and thanks for their contributions to society. They deserve to enjoy their time with family and friends, rather than worrying about retirement security and healthcare costs. Throughout my Congressional career, I have championed the need for resources and services so that seniors can live independently, in their communities, for as long as possible.
Preserving Medicare and Social Security should be a fundamental value held by every Member of Congress, and any partisan attempt to scale back the program endangers the health of the millions of Americans who elected them. I want to restore the peace of mind that our seniors deserve by fighting attempts to cut these and other critical programs which they rely on.
As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, I will continue to work across the aisle to guarantee the quality, security, and solvency of Medicare and Social Security. Over its 50-year history, Medicare has guaranteed dependable, comprehensive health coverage to seniors and individuals with disabilities nationwide. Today, Medicare supports almost 60 million Americans, over 1 million of whom are Marylanders. It provides more affordable health coverage than private health insurers, and successfully spearheads reforms in the healthcare delivery system to improve efficiency and control costs. In the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), we prioritized extending the life of Medicare for more than a decade. I also fought successfully to include provisions in the ACA, which eliminated all co-payments for Medicare preventive services, such as diabetes screenings and colonoscopies, and provided seniors with free annual wellness checkups with no co-pays or deductibles. The ACA also provided important financial relief for seniors who fell in the Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage gap or “donut hole.” Starting in 2019, beneficiaries whose prescription drugs costs reach $3,750 will pay no more than 25% coinsurance rather than being responsible for the full amount until reaching catastrophic coverage.
Because Medicare is such a highly-rated and cost-effective program, I support efforts to allow people to begin buying into the program at age 55. This would go a long way toward helping older Americans deal with skyrocketing health care costs. It would also strengthen the program overall and benefit current participants by bringing in younger and healthier patients into the risk pool. I also believe that we must update coverage to reflect advancements in standards of medical care. I am working to add dental coverage as a Medicare benefit, and I have publicly urged the Administration to provide coverage for medically necessary oral and dental treatment. I have also introduced legislation to increase access to osteoporosis screenings and diagnoses for Medicare beneficiaries.
I’m also committed to ensuring that retirement security is achievable and that our seniors find confidence in their IRAs and 401k plans as our economy changes. I’m working across the aisle on the Retirement Security & Savings Act, a broad set of reforms designed to help Americans save more for retirement and to increase access to 401ks and other retirement plans. I’ve also introduced bipartisan legislation to encourage retirement savings by fostering the growth of S corporations that are owned by Employee Stock Ownership Plans (“ESOPs”). I remain a strong supporter of the Older Americans Act, which expresses our nation’s commitment to protecting our seniors and includes special provisions I authored to help Holocaust survivors living in the United States access essential services, such as health care and nutritional services, without having to live in a nursing home or assisted living facility. These programs are not only a vital part of our health care infrastructure, they are life-saving guarantees for millions. The ongoing effort to enable all of our seniors to retire with dignity remains one of my highest priorities.
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