VIDEO: Menendez Defends NJ Seniors on Medicare from Tom Price’s Voucher Scheme

VIDEO: Menendez Defends NJ Seniors on Medicare from Tom Price’s Voucher Scheme

President Trump’s HHS nominee couldn’t promise costs wouldn’t rise for seniors under his plan

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, today questioned Secretary of Health & Human Services-designee Tom Price during his confirmation hearing about his support for turning Medicare into a voucher program.  Changing from a system of guaranteed medical coverage to what the senator deemed a “coupon,” would cap the assistance seniors receive for healthcare and any costs they incur beyond their voucher would come out of their own pocket.


Sen. Menendez emphasized the importance of Medicare through a story about his mother.  “For my mother, her healthcare security was Medicare, and without it she wouldn’t have lived with the dignity she deserved in the twilight of her life,” Sen. Menendez said.  Rep. Price only said he’d try to make sure seniors would have access to healthcare at an affordable price.

“Changing Medicare from a commitment and entitlement to vouchers that may hope to create affordability, but doesn’t guarantee that, is a fundamental shift in the nature of how we take care of seniors in this country,” Sen. Menendez said to Price.  “Your answer doesn’t assuage me.”

A 2012 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that if a premium support plan similar to one included in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s fiscal year 2013 budget—with support from Rep. Price—had been implemented in 2010, 57% of New Jersey seniors would have been paying an additional $100 or more in monthly Medicare premiums for the same amount of coverage.

Nearly 1.5 million New Jersey seniors are enrolled in Medicare Part B or Medicare Advantage.  Last year, over 1.1 million New Jersey seniors received at least one free preventive service with no copays or deductibles—due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—as part of their Medicare coverage.  These include screenings for cancer, diabetes, and hypertension, as well as flu shots, tobacco cessation counseling, and annual wellness visits.

Since the ACA became law, New Jersey seniors have saved $1.33 billion in prescription drug costs as a result of the gradual closure of the Medicare donut hole.  In 2016 alone, 202,098 New Jerseyans saved $271,602,666 for an average savings of $1,344, the second most savings of any state.