For more than 50 years, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid have provided our seniors with vital assistance to help cover the costs of health care, food, transportation, and other services. As we look back on the decades of success of these programs, we must also look forward to the next 50 years and ensure seniors continue to receive the care they need. I am committed to developing immediate and long-term solutions to address the challenges facing seniors.
Medicare is a lifeline for more than 61 million Americans, and it must be protected for future generations. I strongly oppose efforts to reduce benefits or privatize this program. When Republicans attempted to re-open the Medicare prescription drug “donut hole” in 2013 and 2015, I stood strong in opposition and fought to protect the more than 72,000 seniors in Washington state who have benefited from reforms that reduced their out-of-pocket prescription drug costs. I have also consistently opposed proposals to replace Medicare’s guarantee of medical coverage with a voucher, which would leave millions of seniors with higher costs and without adequate health care coverage. Instead of shifting greater costs onto our seniors, we should work to control the rising cost of care. To reduce costs for seniors, I support allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices the same way private health plans do.
One thing we can take away from the COVID-19 pandemic is the need for increased access to telehealth. Many seniors have benefited from easier access to these services from home during the public health emergency to keep themselves safe and continue receiving care. A bill that I introduced before the pandemic, the Mental Health Telemedicine Expansion Act, was adopted in the 2020 year-end COVID-19 relief agreement and will permanently allow seniors to access mental services from their home through telehealth.
Improving retirement security for our seniors remains a top priority of mine and ensuring the long-term stability of Social Security is paramount to this goal. For more than 80 years, Social Security has kept seniors out of poverty and provided basic living standards for the middle class. Instead of breaking our promise to seniors and future generations, we should advance forward-looking reforms that strengthen the program and ensure that all Americans can retire with dignity.