East Providence, RI – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse today visited with East Providence seniors at Orchard View Manor to discuss his efforts to preserve Social Security and Medicare benefits, make prescription drugs more affordable by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices with drug companies, and other issues important to Rhode Island seniors.
“I always appreciate spending time with seniors in our state and listening to their concerns,” said Whitehouse. “Their message to me is always clear: don’t let anyone cut Social Security or Medicare benefits. Seniors here in East Providence, and throughout Rhode Island, have paid into these programs over the course of a lifetime of hard work, and I’ll continue fighting to make sure they can count on these benefits to be there when they need them.”
“It was great to host Senator Whitehouse here at Orchard View today. Our residents always appreciate the opportunity to speak directly with their elected officials, and having the Senator here to listen to them was a real treat,” said Lonnie Bisbano, Administrator at Orchard View Manor. “His visit reflects a true dedication to his constituents and those who rely on and work in long term care,” continued Bisbano.
Whitehouse, who is a founding member of the Senate’s Defend Social Security Caucus, has built a strong record of advocacy for Rhode Island seniors. As part of the health care reform law, he helped put an end to the Medicare prescription drug “doughnut hole.” Prior to the law, thousands of Rhode Island seniors who fell into the doughnut hole were forced to pay the full cost of their prescription drugs each year. As a result of the reform, nearly 15,000 Rhode Islanders received prescription drug discounts in 2011 alone, for an average savings of $554 per person. Through the first half of 2012, more than 3,600 Medicare recipients had received discounts. In total, people with Medicare in Rhode Island have saved nearly $14.5 million on prescription drugs since the reform law was enacted.
In order to ensure the long-term solvency of Medicare, Whitehouse has pursued reforms in our health care delivery system that could significantly lower costs for both Medicare and private sector insurers. He is also working to crack down on waste, fraud, and abuse in the Medicare system and has cosponsored legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, an action which could save up to $24 billion annually according to a study by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.
For Social Security, which is projected to remain solvent through 2033, Whitehouse has cosponsored the Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act, which would raise the cap on Social Security payroll taxes to include income over $250,000. By doing so, the bill would keep the program solvent for 75 years.