Congresswoman Schakowsky Celebrates Medicare/Medicaid 54th Anniversary with Beneficiaries

July 30, 2019
Press Release

Congresswoman Schakowsky Celebrates Medicare/Medicaid 54th Anniversary with Beneficiaries

CHICAGO, IL – On the 54th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid being signed into law, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky was joined by advocates and beneficiaries to celebrate these landmark programs. At a news conference at Federal Plaza today, they talked about the benefits of the nation’s largest public health programs and the importance of ensuring access to high quality, affordable health care by addressing skyrocketing drug prices.

“With our Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, our agenda is focused on protecting and expanding programs like Medicare and Medicaid, improving access to health care, and lowering prescription drug prices,” said Congresswoman Schakowsky. “In particular, drug pricing reform is an essential pillar to strengthening both Medicare and Medicaid and to improving health care quality for Americans nationwide. We cannot say we are offering Americans comprehensive health care if patients are unable to afford their drugs.”

The day after Thanksgiving, I had a medical emergency resulting from diverticulosis, when my intestine ruptured and I ended up in the hospital for 7 days. When I returned home, a blood clot had formed and I had to return to the hospital. My return to the hospital could have been prevented. Before my medical emergency, my doctor had discussed prescribing me a blood thinner. But because Medicare Part D is inadequate, I was told that he wouldn’t prescribe it to me because ‘you couldn’t pay no $500 a month’,” shared Miller Rodgers of the IL Association of Retired Americans. “It turned out I am lucky enough to have ‘wrap around’ coverage through my union retirement plan that has made the drug affordable. But not every senior is like me. If I hadn’t had my union plan, I wouldn’t be able to afford $500 a month.”

Graciela Guzman of Protect My Care stated, “As we commemorate two of America's greatest triumphs, we must not forget that the security they help provide for millions was not always guaranteed. Before Medicare and Medicaid were law, only about half of all seniors had some form of insurance. Too many of our most vulnerable citizens - including children and people with disabilities - did not have access to quality, affordable health care, including to affordable prescriptions. On the 54th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid, we cannot merely be content with the progress we have made: we must take action to actively protect, defend, and expand these programs.”

Jerry Freda from the Coalition for a Better Illinois added, "Medicare is the most popular public program in America. In fact, last year 60% of Americans said that they would rather repeal the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act than cut Medicare.”