As the year draws to a close, Congress still has a lot of important work to do. We must ensure businesses have a climate that fosters job creation; we have a responsibility to see that hardworking families do not see their taxes increase in 2013; and we must get our deficit under control. Early in the new year, we also must look very closely at any proposal brought forward to raise the debt ceiling and ensure those proposals are paired with meaningful spending cuts.
As I travel throughout the First District, concerned Tennesseans urge me to continue to fight for our conservative values. They get it: tax, borrow, and spend politics won’t work anymore. Tennesseans know that increasing revenue won’t solve our problem. Wasteful Washington spending is the problem, and we should not raise taxes and give the government more money to waste. While the president and Congressional Democrats refuse to discuss reforming our entitlement programs and cutting wasteful spending, they’re holding the middle-class hostage. This can’t go on.
When we talk about entitlement reforms, it’s important that everyone understands what that means. We’re trying to begin the process of saving Medicare. We aren’t talking about taking Medicare away from seniors that desperately need it. We’ve made a promise to people who are already at or near retirement age, and they have made their plans based on this expectation.
But we know that without changes, these programs will not be able to deliver the current level of benefits to future retirees. Over the next 20 years, 3 to 4 million seniors will become eligible for Medicare each year. According to the Medicare Trustees Report, by 2024 Medicare’s unfunded obligations will reach nearly $38 trillion and the hospital insurance trust fund will become insolvent. If we wait twenty years to start dealing with these issues, Medicare as we know it will cease to exist.
Problems with Medicare aren’t just a thought for the future, they have already begun. A 2008 survey highlighted that more than 20 percent of doctors are not accepting new Medicare patients. Medicare patients are already having trouble getting in to see a doctor and because of the president’s health care law, Medicare payment reductions will cause hospitals, nursing homes and home health agencies operate under a loss as soon as 2019. 15 percent of those providers will lose money by 2019 and a startling 40 percent of hospitals, nursing homes and home health agencies will be forced to operate under a loss by 2050. With other budget constraints, even more providers will be forced to stop accepting Medicare patients altogether. Our seniors have worked their whole lives to pay into this program and they deserve better.
Please rest assured that as the New Year begins I will be a strong voice on behalf of our seniors. I will continue the fight to preserve Medicare, cut wasteful government spending, create jobs and put our country back on track. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but I truly believe it’s not too late to make things right. I wish all the best for you and your loved ones in 2013, and I thank you for giving me the privilege of being your Congressman.