As the co-chair of the House Democratic Caucus on Aging and Families and the former executive director of the Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens, I am committed to protecting and improving Medicare. I am strongly opposed to efforts to eliminate Medicare’s guarantee by privatizing it, leaving seniors and people with disabilities on their own to deal with private insurance companies, and shifting costs onto the backs of seniors and people with disabilities.
Before Medicare was created in 1965, half of all senior citizens were uninsured. Today, Medicare provides virtually universal coverage and helps nearly 50 million seniors and persons with disabilities stay healthier and live longer by providing affordable, quality and reliable medical care. I am proud of the Medicare improvements in Obamacare: lowering prescription drug costs by closing the gap in benefits (the "donut hole"), expanding access to free preventive services and a new annual wellness exam, and fraud-fighting measures that continue to save billions of dollars.
It is always important that Congress works to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse. The best way to address rising health care costs is to improve efficiency and accuracy in payments – not increase cost-sharing or reduce reimbursements to providers below reasonable levels.
During the Obama Administration, we used new tools and stepped up enforcement activities, creating the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Team (HEAT) in May 2009, and I am pleased that ObamaCare continues to provide even more tools to fight waste, fraud and abuse. The anti-fraud provisions include an enhanced background check mechanism to ensure that fraudulent providers are not allowed to “re-up” in Medicare and Medicaid, imposing tougher penalties for those who make false statements or refuse to provide information needed for audits, enhancing the national health care fraud and abuse database, and providing new funding for Medicare and Medicaid Integrity Programs. Through these efforts, the government saved over $4.1 billion in 2011 alone.
I believe that we can make Medicare even better. For example, we can do even more to make medications affordable by requiring that Medicare uses its bargaining power to negotiate with drug companies and through the creation of a Medicare-administered drug benefit.
More on Medicare
Wishing a Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I give some updates on the Presidential transition, Coronavirus numbers, and some other updates.
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Senior Chief Deputy Whip and Chair of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, released a statement highlighting significant victories for Illinois’ 9th Congressional District and other communities across America in H.R. 7617, the second fiscal year 2021 appropriations bills, that just passed the House.
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, a Senior Chief Deputy Whip and Chair of the Energy and Commerce Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, and Congressman Peter King (R-NY) introduced the bipartisan Advancing Connectivity during the Coronavirus to Ensure Support for Seniors (ACCESS) Act. Many older Americans and individuals with disabilities rely on nursing homes to survive, and the COVID-19 pandemic has severely isolated nursing home residents from their family members and health care providers who often are essential caregivers and advocates.