The Hirono Amendment Aims to Protect Medicare & Medicaid

The Hirono Amendment Aims to Protect Medicare & Medicaid

Medicare and Medicaid, as well as the Affordable Care Act, are under imminent threat in Congress. The consequences of proposed changes and cuts to these programs are vast, and would impact much of our country’s health care system. For children, families and older adults, these programs serve as a lifeline to access critical medical care. Proposed changes would jeopardize seniors’ care by reducing coverage, increasing costs and ending programs beneficiaries rely on to remain in their homes and communities.

In response to this threat, Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) created an amendment to protect Medicare and Medicaid. California Health Advocates and advocates across the country have signed on as co-sponsors to protect these programs from the reconciliation process by creating a budget point of order to prevent any changes to Medicare would that raise the eligibility age, change the eligibility requirements, and privatize or “voucherize” the program. The point of order would also prevent changes to Medicaid that reduce state funding from current levels.

Background on the issue:

For years, some in Congress have been attempting to make catastrophic changes to Medicare that would leave American seniors exposed to devastating financial risk by changing the Medicare program—which covers 55 million seniors—to a voucher-based system.

At the same time, their proposed cuts of Medicaid funding to states would leave the most vulnerable in our country, including children, left without insurance coverage.

Given the importance of these programs to so many seniors, people with disabilities, children, and families, the American people deserve a full and robust debate. Making large-scale changes to these critical programs with no transparency is not the way to change programs that impact nearly 1 in 3 American families.

What the Amendment does:

The amendment establishes a budget point of order to prevent any legislation that might:

  1. Privatize Medicare/create a voucher system;
  2. Increase the eligibility age for Medicare;
  3. Impose Medicaid block grants or per capita caps.

For more information about the amendment or to co-sponsor, contact Swarna Vallurupalli with Senator Hirono at Swarna_Vallurupalli@hirono.senate.gov or Joe McNally with Senator Donnelly at Joseph_McNally@donnelly.senate.gov.

Note: This text is edited from Senator Hirono’s fact sheet on this amendment.

Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.