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Medicare is Golden

Medicare is celebrating it’s golden anniversary this year — 50 years of protecting seniors.

Now, I could go on and on about Medicare. About how difficult it was for seniors before Medicare became law (only about half had hospital coverage, and even fewer had coverage for doctor’s visits). Or how hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans rely on it (roughly 819,000).

But instead, I’ll just ask this question: How many people do you know that have Medicare?

I bet you know at least one person — if not more — that get their health insurance through Medicare. It’s an incredibly successful program. And with the Affordable Care Act, we made it even better. Today, seniors don’t have to worry that one hospital visit could send them into a financial spiral.

I’m all for strengthening and improving Medicare. That’s one reason why I supported the ACA, which closed the prescription drug donut hole, provided for more preventative services, and extended the life of the Medicare Trust fund.

And there are more improvements to be made. For example, I support allowing Medicare Part D to negotiate with drug companies to lower the cost of drugs. I’m also working to expand the Diabetes Prevention Program (which I added to the ACA) to improve seniors’ lives and save taxpayers money.

Extremists in Congress have a very different idea of what “improving” Medicare means. They want to privatize the program, turning it into a voucher system. Basically, they want to hand seniors a voucher and say “Here you go, good luck finding insurance.”

That’s not improvement. That’s a road to where we were 51 years ago.

Medicare is golden. Changes to Medicare should be aimed at extending the life of the program, making it more efficient and effective — not dismantling it.