TRENTON, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez along with U.S. Representatives Frank Pallone (D-N.J.-6) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.-12) today joined with New Jersey Citizen Action to celebrate the 53rd anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid. The Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans have targeted the programs despite millions of Americans relying on Medicare and Medicaid in order to receive health care.

“Under this President’s watch, big corporations are swimming in trillion-dollar tax cuts, while working families are drowning in higher premiums, higher deductibles, and higher prescription drug costs,” Sen. Menendez said. “Americans are not going to forget how Republicans spent a year pushing policies that would have left 32 million people uninsured – including over a million right here in New Jersey. Well, the American people have had enough and they’re rising up, making their voices heard, registering to vote and knocking on doors. And that’s how we’re going to win this fight.”


“There’s a sense of desperation right now in Congress,” said Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman. “They’re trying their darndest to do things in a very quick way . But I have found in my short time there that this really is a government by and for the people, and when the people stand up as they did right after this President was elected, and hundreds of thousands of people stood up and demanded they retreat from trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it happened. But instead of it catching on and being the movement of the day, they’ve been trying to kill [the ACA] with little cuts every time we come to vote on something.”


"For more than five decades Medicare and Medicaid have made a real difference in the lives of New Jersey families. The Affordable Care Act strengthened and built upon the successes of these programs to provide coverage for millions and protect Americans from being discriminated against because of pre-existing conditions,” said Rep. Pallone. “Despite public support to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, the Trump administration has attempted to sabotage the ACA at every turn, while slashing Medicaid and jeopardizing the future of Medicare with the GOP Tax Scam. I'm proud to stand here with so many friends united against President Trump's extreme policies."


Also joining the press conference was Ady Barkan, an ALS advocate who gained national attention when he confronted Senator Jeff Flake (R-Az.) on an airplane to urge him not to vote for the GOP Tax Bill. In the viral video, Barkan explained to Sen. Flake that the tax bill would cause budget deficits which would require automatic spending cuts. Barkan feared that Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, would choose to cut Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, a program that Barkan and his family would likely rely on when his condition worsens. While Sen. Flake ultimately voted in favor of the tax bill, Sen. Menendez voted against it.

“Republicans are trying to take health care away from Americans in order to enrich their campaign contributors,” said Ady Barkan. “These are not abstract policies. These are not just white papers or mission statements. This is about everyday life for me and millions of people like me who depend or will depend on Medicare and Medicaid for our survival. Will I have a home health aide to help me use the toilet and get out of bed…will I be able to afford a ventilator to keep me alive for a few more years so I can watch my son go to first grade? To me, the answer to those questions depends on what our elected officials do. And I’m here to urge them to recognize my humanity.”


“Even as we mark the success of these programs, we are sounding the alarm because despite the repeated outcries of consumers, health care advocates, doctors, nurses, hospitals and patient advocacy groups, President Trump and the Republicans in Congress have launched an unrelenting attack on our health care,” said Maura Collingru, Health Care Program Dircetor at NJ Citizen Action. “What’s at stake for New Jersey is billions of federal dollars and the health of millions of our residents.”


“Middle class and low-income New Jerseyans are being priced out of the health insurance market due to the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act,” said NJPP Director of Health Policy Ray Castro. “For the first time since the ACA was implemented, enrollment is down in both the marketplace and Medicaid, and the insurance rate appears to be increasing after three years of steady improvement. This is an outrage and a tragedy for the 700,000 New Jerseyans who are still uninsured and those families and older New Jersey residents who can no longer afford their skyrocketing premiums. While New Jersey has taken steps to protect its residents from the Trump administration, more must be done to combat the barrage of attacks on New Jersey’s health care market.”


Throughout his time in Congress, Sen. Menendez has been a strong defender of Medicare and Medicaid.

Last year when Republicans worked to repeal the ACA, they also wanted to end Medicaid expansion and end open federal funding for Mediciad. Sen. Menendez has consistently fought to save the health coverage of millions of Americans who rely on the ACA and has traveled the state to hear directly from New Jerseyans. Sen. Menendez heard directly from constituents at the Newark Community Health Center. The senator focused on the impact of the Republican healthcare plan on women, met patients with preexisting conditions and their families during a visit to Hackensack University Medical Center, and discussed the impact of Medicaid cuts with constituents and advocates at the Southern Jersey Family Medical Center (SJFMC), a federally qualified health center in Burlington City.

In the latest attempt to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Trump Justice Department (DOJ) has decided to attack the ACA in court, arguing that the ACA provision protecting those with pre-existing conditions should be ruled unconstitutional. If the Trump Administration is successful, millions of American will be denied health insurance coverage, and millions more will face unaffordable insurance premiums.

The administration and Congressional Republicans also tried to strip billions of dollars from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to pay for massive deficit created by the Trump Tax Plan that gave massive tax breaks to corporations and the wealthiest Americans. More than 230,000 New Jersey children from low-income and working families rely on the program. Sen. Menendez fought hard against those cuts and ultimately the Republican rescission package failed.

This wasn’t the first time Republicans endangered CHIP funding. Last September, Republicans allowed the program’s funding to lapse. In response, Sen. Menendez co-introduced the bipartisan KIDS Act to fund CHIP through 2022 and preserve the express lane option for enrollment, the childhood obesity demonstration project, and the pediatric quality measures. The senator successfully fought to extend CHIP funding for a full ten years in the recently passed Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said would ultimately save taxpayers $6 billion over the decade. Initially, CHIP was only funded for six years in the temporary January spending deal.