07.31.15

Whitehouse, Langevin, & Cicilline Mark 50 Years of Medicare & Medicaid in Rhode Island

Delegation Speaks Out Against GOP Efforts to Cut Funding for Key Programs for Seniors, Disabled, Children, & Low-Income Americans

Providence, RI – Today, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline joined seniors, leading health care providers and insurers, AARP of Rhode Island, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Medicare and Medicaid programs.  The event was held in Providence at the PACE Organization of Rhode Island, which coordinates a range of health care services for individuals on Medicare and Medicaid.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law on July 30th, 1965 – 50 years ago this week – creating the nation’s first nationwide health care programs for seniors, people with disabilities, children, and low-income Americans.

Whitehouse, Langevin, and Cicilline heard from Rhode Island seniors about how the programs have helped them to lead healthier, more independent lives.  They also discussed the need to protect Medicare and Medicaid from Republicans’ attempts to privatize or cut funding for the programs.

“As President Johnson said when he signed Medicare and Medicaid into law, seniors should have access to the wonders of modern health care without giving up their life’s savings or their dignity,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “Today, we heard from Rhode Islanders who count on these programs to enjoy their retirement and maintain their independence.  That’s why we need to protect Medicare and Medicaid from any attempts to cut funding or roll back benefits.  Our seniors have earned access to good health care through a lifetime of hard work, and they shouldn’t have to worry about it being taken away.”

“Over the last 50 years, Medicare has helped America’s seniors and their families become more independent and financially secure, including the more than 180,000 Rhode Islanders who are receiving benefits today. The same holds true for the Rhode Islanders who rely on the health care safety net that Medicaid provides, including seniors, people with disabilities, and children and young adults from working families,” said Langevin. “These programs represent a promise that they will have access to affordable health care when they really need it, and it is vital that we keep that promise. As we celebrate this golden anniversary, I look forward to working with my colleagues across party lines to improve Medicare and Medicaid and preserve these programs for generations to come.”

“Medicare and Medicaid have provided critical benefits for seniors, individuals with disabilities, and working families for the last 50 years. Today, in Rhode Island’s First District, more than 92,000 people receive Medicare benefits and almost 100,000 receive Medicaid coverage,” said Cicilline. “It’s critical that we protect these earned benefits from those who want to end the guarantee of Medicare and dismantle Medicaid. I am proud that our Congressional delegation is helping to lead this fight to strengthen and protect Medicare and Medicaid and ensure that every American has access to high quality, affordable health care.”

As of May of this year, over 200,000 Rhode Islanders are enrolled in Medicare, and over 270,000 Rhode Islanders are enrolled in Medicaid (including those on the Children’s Health Insurance Program).

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