Each July we celebrate Medicare’s passage in 1965 and its undeniable success in keeping millions of American seniors from poverty each year.  Unfortunately, far too many others in Washington will continue to spend this Medicare milestone month searching for ways to dismantle the program in the name of “deficit reduction”.  Washington’s fiscal hawks continue to see this economic crisis as the perfect opportunity to attack programs they have never supported in the first place.  Remember Paul Ryan’s “This is not a budget. It’s a cause” clarion call? There has been a lot written recently about the ongoing Washington budget talks and the campaign to slash Medicare benefits, while also preserving tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. In celebration of the Medicare success story, we’ll highlight some of our must-read recommendations for those of you who share our view that Medicare should not be sacrificed at the altar of Washington’s debt reduction idols.  We simply can’t continue to ignore Medicare’s role in the fiscal and physical health of middle class Americans and these articles help illustrate why:

Medicine has changed, but the need for Medicare has not. Senate floor statement by  Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

“Today, virtually every American over 65 has access to health care. And the number of seniors that live below the poverty line has dropped by 75 percent. That’s no accident. Medicare provides 47 million Americans with the access to care and the protection from poverty that Truman envisioned more than 65 years ago. And Medicare and Medicaid don’t only protect seniors from poverty – they also protect those seniors’ children. Forty-six years ago, middle-class families often spent themselves into the poor house honoring their commitment to their fathers and mothers. Today seniors and their children have the security that Medicare and Medicaid will be there to honor that commitment – providing health care and nursing home care when they need it.”

Big Medicare cuts to reduce deficit unpopular. Reuters coverage of new Kaiser Foundation Poll.

“Few Americans would support major cuts to Medicare to reduce the federal deficit, but many would be okay with minor savings in the popular healthcare program, a survey released on Thursday said. The latest tracking survey on healthcare issues by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the public is more willing to accept Medicare spending cuts if done to shore up the elderly healthcare program rather than for deficit reduction or avoiding tax increases. The survey's findings are important because the future of Medicare is at the heart of high level discussions over the $1.4 trillion annual deficit and $14.3 trillion U.S. debt.”

Medicare Proposal Could Stress Strapped Seniors. NPR coverage of Coburn/Lieberman Medicare legislation.

“Half of seniors had income lower than $22,000 in 2010; 25 percent had income lower than $13,000. Only five percent had incomes above $85,000. And while 91 percent of today's Medicare beneficiaries have savings, in most cases those nest eggs aren't nearly enough to pay substantial medical bills. Half of seniors have savings less than $50,000; a quarter have less than $8,400 money set aside. Ten percent had more than half a million dollars, half of those people had a million dollars or more. Yet even with today's Medicare coverage, health spending accounted for an average of nearly 15 percent of the average Medicare household's budget in 2009, according to another Kaiser study. That's three times the health care spending for those not on Medicare.”
Here is something fun we urge you to share with your friends via email, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever your favorite form of online communication.  Download the Picture or just forward the link to help spread the word that gutting Medicare is not a “cause” you or the vast majority of Americans support.