Senator Mike Johanns today joined 35 Republican colleagues signing a letter urging Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) to reinvest potential savings found through Medicare reform to shore up the soon-to-be bankrupt program instead of diverting this scarce funding for senior citizens to a new government bureaucracy.
"If we find savings within the Medicare program, we should put those savings back into the Medicare program, instead of creating another government entitlement program that we can't afford. We cannot have true health care reform without entitlement reform," Johanns said. "Borrowing from Medicare to pay for health care reform is akin to robbing Peter to pay Paul and the American people deserve a better effort than this."
Text of the letter is below:
Dear Majority Leader Reid:
As you are well aware, over 45 million senior citizens across the country depend on Medicare for their health care needs. Unfortunately, Medicare's long-term financial stability is in serious jeopardy. A recent Medicare Trustee's Report projects that the Medicare Trust Fund will be insolvent in 2017 - two years earlier than was projected last year. This poses a serious threat to the viability of a program that is expected to cover almost 60 million in 2018. In all, Medicare already has nearly $40 trillion in unfunded liabilities, and this number grows larger each year. We all want health care reform but taking money from Medicare to fund a new entitlement program is not an acceptable solution.
Securing the solvency of Medicare and protecting this critical health care program for our seniors must be a priority as we develop and consider legislation to improve our health care system. We believe that any potential monies found through Medicare reform should only be utilized to secure the financial stability of this program. Most Americans would agree that taking money from one program with urgent solvency problems to fund a huge expansion of health care benefits for others is not sensible.
While we all agree to the need for health care reform, the organizations and countries around the world that help America fund its debt are looking to us to solve the liabilities created by our insolvent entitlement programs and not use the monies from those programs to create additional entitlements.
We look forward to working with you in a bipartisan manner to prudently reform our health care system but oppose doing it in a way that increases the tremendous liabilities that exist with our other entitlement programs.
Senators who signed the letter include: Lamar Alexander (R-TN), John Barrasso (R-WY), Bob Bennett (R-UT), Kit Bond (R-MO), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Jim Bunning (R-KY), Richard Burr (R-NC), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bob Corker (R-TN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Jim DeMint (R-SC), John Ensign (R-NV), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Mel Martinez (R-FL), John McCain (R-AZ), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jim Risch (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Richard Shelby (R-AL), John Thune (R-SD), David Vitter (R-LA), George Voinovich (R-OH), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).