Medicare was designed to provide health insurance for our seniors, and it was created in 1965 under the leadership of Lyndon B. Johnson. However, it took almost 40 years for Congress to enact a law which authorized Medicare to pay for prescription drugs. In 2003, Congress passed the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) under the shortsighted leadership of George W. Bush. This act added a “Part D” to the Medicare section of the social security laws.
Medicare is an extremely successful senior health insurance program-- in fact, so successful, that it can operate efficiency even though only 3% of Medicare’s budget is spent on overhead costs. Compare this number to other private health insurance companies! Because private companies must give a large portion of their income to shareholders and executives, a whopping 30-35% of the average private insurer’s budget is spent on dividend payments, lavish executive compensation packages (that often include huge bonuses), and other overhead costs.
Many people were hoping that Part D would finally give seniors a chance to access affordable medicine. However, Part D explicitly prohibited the government from negotiating directly with drug companies for volume discounts, thereby giving drug companies the green light to set any price they want. Not surprisingly, big pharma set high prices and the government has had no choice but to cover these costs.
Supporters of Part D might argue that banning these negotiations was the only way to get the law passed, as the pharmaceutical industry is so powerful and donates so much money to politicians. But times have changed.The American people are fed up with politicians doing favors for moneyed special interests, and 87% of Americans support lifting the ban on drug negotiations.
Critics of Part D also say it was intentionally underfunded in order to destabilize the entire Medicare system, with the ultimate goal of dismantling and privatizing Medicare. That would be a big mistake. Medicare has worked well for generations, and I don’t think Medicare should be destabilized-- on the contrary, we should expand Medicare so that all Americans have health insurance and access to affordable drugs. To do this, we need to lift the prohibition against drug price negotiations and ensure that Medicare is well funded by crafting smart tax and fiscal policies. To ensure that Medicare is well-funded, we must make smart budget cuts across the board. In doing so, we need to place all options on the table.
Our seniors have worked hard their whole lives, and they must continue to enjoy the fruits of their labor. By strengthening Social Security and Medicare we can make sure that seniors are cared for a way that reflects their long-time contribution to our communities.
My opponent, Mimi Walters, supported YES on reducing tax payments on Social Security benefits (Bill sponsored by Archer, R-TX; Bill HR 4865). Walters Supported NO on strengthening the Social Security Lockbox (Motion to Recommit introduced by Rangel, D-NY; Bill HR 1259). Walters supported YES to reduce taxes on Social Security earnings (Contract with America 93-CWA9). Walters supported YES on Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act (Bill sponsored by Hastert, R-IL; Bill HR 1). Walters voted NO on Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2015 (Bill sponsored by Welch; D-VT; Bill HR 3061). She wants to bankrupt Social Security and Medicare programs as soon as possible. She is considered anti-senior by the Alliance for Retired Americans. She is not fighting for WE the People.
Walters’ Voting/Support Record:
- YES on reducing tax payments on Social Security benefits (Bill sponsored by Archer, R-TX; Bill HR 4865)
- NO on strengthening the Social Security Lockbox (Motion to Recommit introduced by Rangel, D-NY; Bill HR 1259)
- YES on reducing taxes on Social Security earnings
- YES on Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act (Bill sponsored by Hastert, R-IL; Bill HR 1)
- NO on Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2015 (Bill sponsored by Welch, D-VT; Bill HR 3061)
- NOT standing up for WE the People
Varasteh’s Congressional Pledge:
- Defend and strengthen Social Security for seniors
- Defend and strengthen Medicare for seniors
- Increase IRA limits
- Reform pension plans
- Standing up for WE the People
- Not for sale