The U.S. House of Representatives has put forward a bold plan fashioned through bipartisan efforts to preserve Medicare and other critical safety nets for seniors and future generations, while addressing the drivers of our country's debt crisis by making responsible budget reforms.
Our country is $15.4 trillion in debt, and this year our publicly held debt will reach 73 percent of our entire economy. If we don't act soon, the situation could reach a point at which government can no longer fund the programs that so many Americans rely on - programs like Medicare.
Republicans have passed numerous pieces of legislation to address this crisis and preserve Medicare, including a budget. Unfortunately, these solutions have been met by a Senate that is unwilling to pass a budget or even take up the bills for a vote.
The House has moved forward with a plan to get our country back on track; it's well time that the Senate and this administration take action and at least consider for a vote the more than 30 pieces of House-passed jobs and budgetary legislation that are currently languishing on their doorstep.
We cannot wait any longer to solve our country's economic crisis and ensure that programs like Medicare are put on a sustainable course, while protecting access to care for seniors, and taking responsible steps to get our country moving in the right direction.
Over the past two weeks, I had the opportunity to speak directly with many seniors in my district during six town hall meetings and two tele-town hall meetings. During these town halls, I listened to the uncertainty and concerns that many expressed over the future of our country. Seniors are worried about what will happen to critical programs, such as Medicare, if Washington doesn't get spending under control soon.
I share these concerns.
In their most recent report, the president's own Medicare trustees predict that Medicare will be bankrupt by 2024. We hear nothing from this administration and its allies on the need to fix this looming problem, and rather than engaging in what could be a fruitful and productive discussion on the proposals on the table, suggestions to address this issue continue to be met with a relentless onslaught of special interest political attacks.
While the president's proposed budget does nothing to prevent Medicare's looming bankruptcy, his health care law changes the way Medicare functions as we know it by empowering a board of unelected bureaucrats to make critical health care decisions for patients - the Independent Advisory Board (IPAB). These bureaucrats would be tasked with making cuts to Medicare, without any public input or accountability.
The president's health care law raids $575 billion from Medicare to pay for the IPAB and other mandates in the law. Once in effect, the IPAB could jeopardize seniors' access to care and put federal bureaucrats in the middle of doctor-patient relationships.
Recently, the House acted in a bipartisan effort to protect health care access for Medicare recipients, preserve doctor-patient relationships, and provide certainty for seniors by passing H.R. 5, the PATH Act. The PATH Act protects seniors by stopping the implementation of the IPAB.
I encourage my colleagues in the Senate to advance this common sense bipartisan legislation, because there's a stark difference between having insurance and having access to care.
Raiding Medicare and empowering unaccountable bureaucrats to cut benefits without public input, will only harm seniors who are already finding it increasingly difficult under Medicare to access the care they need and deserve.
Seniors cannot afford anymore empty promises.
I support a plan that:
• Keeps the promise to seniors and gives Medicare a robust and sustainable future that provides access to quality care for patients;
• Puts Washington's out-of-control spending in check with responsible budget and tax reforms;
• Replaces the president's failed health care law with bipartisan solutions that protect doctor-patient relationships and access to care by eliminating the IPAB board;
• Ensures that no changes are made to Medicare for current beneficiaries and those nearing retirement, while creating a sustainable future for Medicare that will prevent it from going bankrupt.
I'm committed to keeping the promise to seniors and fighting to protect their access to quality health care, and it's my hope that President Obama and the Senate will work with us in the House to pass real solutions to the challenges facing our country, get spending under control, and preserve Medicare and other vital programs for future generations.
Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, is the Third District congressman representing western and southern Colorado in the U.S. House of Representatives.