Thursday, August 1, 2013

Conyers Rallies Advocates Behind Medicare-for-All, on 48th Anniversary of Medicare

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) participated in a press conference alongside Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.), Congressman Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Congressman Mark Takano (D-Calif.), other Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and participants from organizations including Public Citizen, Physicians for a National Health Program, as well as the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare. At the press conference, Rep. Conyers delivered the following remarks:

“Today, we join together to recognize Medicare’s 48th Birthday. The impact of Medicare on the lives of older Americans over the past 48 years has been truly profound. As a result of its passage, millions of Americans have lived longer, more productive, healthier lives.

“I am profoundly lucky and honored to be able to say that I voted for Medicare during my first summer as a Member of Congress, back in 1965. Earlier that year, I joined with Representative Cecil King of California and introduced, as my very first piece of legislation, a bill that would have provided hospital care under Social Security and an increase of benefits. I said at the time, ‘Our senior citizens have far too long been neglected in this, the most prosperous societies on earth.  Many of them, after leading productive lives prior to their twilight years, have been so overburdened with medical costs that they have been denied the rewards that should come with retirement.’

“I’m pleased to say that in the 5 decades since the enactment of Medicare, the program has fulfilled its promise of retirement security for America’s seniors.

“Yet, Medicare is under attack from the same forces who opposed its enactment in 1965. Those advocates of smaller government are continually seeking to cut Medicare’s guaranteed benefits and push seniors into private plans, which value profits over their health. I have no doubt that the upcoming fight over raising our nation’s debt limit will again include these radical proposals with innocuous sounding names like ‘premium support’ and ‘means testing.’

“We gather here today to offer an alternative vision – one in which Medicare’s benefits are protected by expanding health care security and insurance coverage to more Americans, not fewer. Since 2003, I have introduced H.R. 676, the ‘Expanded and Improved Medicare For All Act,’ which would create a national publicly-funded, privately-delivered single-payer health care system.

“A new study from Dr. Gerald Friedman of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst confirms what I have always believed: we can take the profit out of our health care system, expand coverage, and control our long-term health care costs. According to Dr. Friedman’s study, enacting H.R. 676 would save $476 billion by slashing the administrative waste associated with the private health care system. An additional $116 billion would be saved by using the purchasing power of the federal government to reduce pharmaceutical prices to the levels that exist in other industrialized nations with national health insurance systems. These savings would more than pay for the $343 billion in investments needed to expand coverage, improve benefits, and eliminate out-of-pocket costs and deductibles for every American. Lastly, by slowing the growth of health care costs, H.R. 676 would save $5 trillion over the next decade – thereby ensuring that the guarantee of affordable public health insurance will be there to be enjoyed by future generations.

“Access to quality, affordable healthcare is more than just a moral imperative, it is a basic human right. Until our coverage is truly universal, I will continue to fight for single-payer healthcare that will deliver quality healthcare to all Americans.”

Rep. Conyers alongside Rep. Ellison, Rep. Takano, Public Citizen President Rob Weissman, members of Physicians for a National Health Program, and the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare advocating for H.R. 676, the “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act.”

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