Democrats vow to fight 'tooth and nail' against Medicare cuts

Democrats vow to fight 'tooth and nail' against Medicare cuts
© Greg Nash

Democratic leaders on Wednesday vowed to fight “tooth and nail” against any Republican push to change Medicare so that it relies more on private insurers.

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“I say to my Republican colleagues: Turn back because we will fight you on this tooth and nail. We will win. You will lose,” Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerFCC advances proposal to unmask blocked caller ID in threat cases Trump: Pelosi's leadership good for the GOP Live coverage: Senate GOP unveils its ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (N.Y.), the incoming Democratic leader said at a press conference.

He was joined by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSunday shows preview: Senate healthcare debate heats up UK Labour leader has ‘message on the wall’ for Trump Sanders: ‘Thousands will die’ under GOP health bill MORE (I-Vt.), House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), as well as liberal groups that were delivering to Republican leaders a petition against Medicare cuts with over 1 million signatures.

Democrats have been sensing political advantage amid talk of Republicans overhauling Medicare.

Schumer promised “some heck of a hearing” for Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpKennedy considering retiring from Supreme Court: reports Ninth Circuit gives green light for much larger travel ban UK Labour leader has ‘message on the wall’ for Trump MORE’s nominee to be Health and Human Services secretary.

Price is a proponent of Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanRyan reminds lawmakers to be on time for votes Lawmakers consider new security funding in wake of shooting Paul Ryan: ‘Beautiful day’ to catch up with Bono MORE’s (R-Wis.) plan to give seniors a set amount of money to buy a private insurance plan or traditional Medicare. Democrats warn such a system would shift costs onto seniors and end the program’s open-ended guarantee of coverage.

While Schumer noted that during the campaign, Trump said he would not cut Medicare, Schumer said he thinks Trump will break his promise.

“That was then, this is now,” Schumer said of Trump. “[P]resident-elect Trump nominated one of the most avowed enemies of Medicare in the country to be secretary of HHS, and he's going to get some heck of a hearing.”

Sanders, likewise, pointed to Trump’s past statements against Medicare cuts and said Democrats would hold him accountable.

“You said you would not cut Social Security, you would not cut Medicare, you would not cut Medicaid,” Sanders said. “You know what, millions of us are going to demand that you keep your promise.”

It is unclear how hard Ryan will push on his Medicare plan, given hesitancy among some Senate Republicans and possibly from Trump.

But Ryan is defending his approach overall.

“We have to do things to fix this program so that we can guarantee that it’s there intact for current seniors, but also that there’s something there for us when we retire,” Ryan said last week.