Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) today spoke on the Senate Floor in celebration of the 53rd anniversary of the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, and issued a call to action to protect these critical programs from cuts. Below are her remarks as prepared for delivery:
Fifty-three years ago, on July 30th, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed landmark legislation to establish Medicare and Medicaid, two essential programs that provide health care to over 120 million Americans, and over one million Nevadans.
When President Johnson signed this historic bill, he said, “No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine. No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings that they have so carefully put away over a lifetime so that they might enjoy dignity in their later years. No longer will young families see their own incomes, and their own hopes, eaten away simply because they are carrying out their deep moral obligations to their parents, and to their uncles, and their aunts. And no longer will this Nation refuse the hand of justice to those who have given a lifetime of service and wisdom and labor to the progress of this progressive country.”
On that day, LBJ declared an end to an era in which healthcare was denied to the most vulnerable members of our communities.
And so I rise today to celebrate the incredible progress we have made since President Johnson created Medicare and Medicaid.
We lifted hundreds of millions of Americans out of abject poverty. And provided hundreds of millions more with dignity, security, and peace of mind.
Then, in 2010, passed the Affordable Care Act, which built on the foundation President Johnson laid and gave 20 million additional Americans, including hundreds of thousands of Nevadans, access to affordable health care coverage.
But today is not just a day for celebration. Because our work is not done yet.
Prescription drug prices, premiums, and co-pays are still too high.
Too many Americans can’t afford the medicine they need to live.
Too many Americans can’t find a doctor whose office is less than a day’s drive away.
Too many Americans are still struggling to get health care that meets their basic needs.
Instead of trying to expand access to health care, Republicans in Congress are working every single day to attack the Affordable Care Act and strip health care coverage away from tens of millions of Americans.
Republican leaders are now threatening to cut Medicare and Medicaid in order to pay for President Trump’s massive tax cut to corporations and special interest groups.
The Republican tax bill exploded our deficit by $1.5 trillion dollars, and now they’re demanding cuts to critical health care programs to pay for their lavish corporate CEO giveaway.
So it’s not enough to celebrate our progress.
When President Johnson signed the social security amendment acts, he landed an historic blow in the fight against poverty, injustice and inequality.
Today, we have to rededicate ourselves to that fight.
We have to protect, strengthen, and improve the Affordable Care Act.
We have to lower the cost of prescription drugs and invest in the health of every community.
We have to create an affordable, public health insurance option that would be available to everyone in the United States, regardless of income level.
We have to fight back against cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
Because the fight to protect our health care is a fight to protect our dignity, our security, and our basic rights.