Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) speaks during a news conference

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) speaks during a news conference after a lunch meeting with Senate Republicans on February 1, 2022 in Washington, D.C.

(Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Medicare and Medicaid's Birthday Calls Attention to GOP Plot to 'Dismantle These Vital Programs'

"The Republicans are openly admitting they want to steal your Social Security and Medicare and then force you to work till you drop dead," said one Democratic lawmaker.

Democratic lawmakers on Sunday took the 58th anniversary of Medicaid and Medicare as an opportunity to celebrate how the popular programs have ensured low-income and older Americans can access healthcare and how progressives have fought to strengthen the programs over the years—while warning that Republicans will take the first chance they get to weaken them.

In a statement Democratic Party noted that the Inflation Reduction Act passed in 2022 "without the help of a single congressional Republican," including a $35 monthly cap on seniors' insulin costs, a provision allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices, and a $2,000 annual cap on out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare Part D recipients.

"Instead of joining the Biden-Harris administration in working to lower health care costs for American families," said the Democrats, "many 2024 MAGA Republican hopefuls are not only campaigning on rolling back critical cost-saving provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act but also support ending Medicare as we know it."

President Joe Biden and other Democrats took to social media to make sure voters could hear Republicans' plans for social services—which they have long derided as "entitlement" programs—from the right-wing lawmakers themselves.

"We all know where the real issue is in terms of long-term debt for the United States," former Vice President Mike Pence, who is running for president in 2024, was seen saying in an interview. "We've got to put [Social Security and Medicare] on the table in the long term.

In another video clip, former President Donald Trump was seen saying cutting Medicare and Social Security are some of "the easiest" solutions to the national debt. Trump, another 2024 candidate, polled 37 points higher than his closest competitor, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, in a New York Times survey on Republican presidential candidates on Monday.

"The Republicans are openly admitting they want to steal your Social Security and Medicare and then force you to work till you drop dead," said Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), who posted a video compilation of several Republicans discussing their plans to raise the retirement age.

Just after securing a deal with the White House in late May to raise the nation's arbitrary debt ceiling in exchange for painful cuts to non-military federal spending such as food aid, U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) wasted no time in making clear that the cuts were only the "first step" in the GOP agenda and that "mandatory spending" such as Medicare and Social Security would need to be slashed.

In June, a panel of 175 House Republicans released a budget proposal that would raise the retirement voted in June to approve a budget proposal that would raise the retirement age for Social Security benefits and enact a "premium support model" for Medicare—replacing the program's guaranteed health coverage with a subsidized voucher that senior citizens could use to either purchase private health insurance or a Medicare plan.

The Democratic Party on Sunday pointed to reporting that showed DeSantis, a former congressman, supported budget resolutions "that would have voucherized Medicare for new beneficiaries, slowed Social Security cost of living increases, and raised the retirement age for both programs."

The party also noted that Republican candidates Chris Christie and Nikki Haley and GOP Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin—who is reportedly weighing a run—have explicitly threatened to slash Medicaid, which covers 1 in 5 Americans who can't afford for-profit health insurance, including 40% of children.

Youngkin called Virginia's expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act "sad," and under Haley's leadership as governor of South Carolina, the state remained one of 11 that did not expand Medicaid.

"We're going to have to reduce Medicare benefits. We're going to have to reduce Medicaid benefits," Christie said at a Koch family seminar in 2011. "We're going to have to do these things."

Progressives including Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said they are committed to "fighting to protect these critical programs, despite Republican efforts to end them."

Biden's budget released earlier this year would further strengthen Medicare's ability to negotiate drug prices, extend health coverage to millions of Americans in states that didn't expand Medicaid, require Medicaid to cover 12 months of postpartum care, and take other steps to expand the programs.

At last week's day of action to celebrate Medicare and Medicaid's anniversary and speak out against Medicare privatization, advocacy groups including Social Security Works (SSW) joined progressive lawmakers in rallying supporters of the programs.

"Who gave us our Medicare? Who gave it to us?" asked SSW executive director Alex Lawson. "Us! No one 'gave' us anything! We pay into this system. It's ours. And we're not going to let anyone take it away from us."

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