May 12,2009

Grassley: Medicare Trustees’ Report Adds New Note of Concern to Adding a Public Health Plan


TO: Reporters and Editors
RE: Medicare Trustees’ Report
DA: Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Senator Chuck Grassley issued the comment below about the 2009 Medicare Trustees’
Report regarding the solvency of the Medicare program. Senator Grassley is Ranking
Member of the Committee on Finance.

“The message of the trustees’ report is loud and clear. We need to act now to address
Medicare’s fiscal sustainability. Kicking the can down the road isn’t an option anymore
because we’re at the end of the road. Necessary policy reforms to add efficiency and
improve Medicare’s fiscal health without cutting benefits will take time to implement. If
Congress waits, the savings from those changes won’t materialize until after the program
becomes insolvent. At that point, the only options would be cutting provider payments,
reducing benefits, or raising payroll taxes.

“At the same time, instead of getting existing public programs in order right now, some
are saying we should create a new government-run health insurance plan. When we can’t
afford the public health plan we have already, does it make sense to add more? What’s
more, a government-run plan would push every other option out of existence and people
wouldn’t be able to keep the health care option they have today, if they want to, as the
President has promised. Instead, we need to establish an individual and small group
insurance market that works for consumers. We need to prohibit insurers from denying
coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions or charging higher premiums to
people who are sick. If we create a government-run program that’s unaffordable and
unsustainable, it won’t do anyone any good.”