In 2009 and 2010, America was deeply divided over President Obama's health care reform legislation. As a member of Congress, I held a lot of events throughout my district and spoke with thousands of my constituents to get their thoughts on this historic bill. I'm sure everyone remembers the pundits on TV shouting at each other, the raucous town hall videos and of course, the rise of the Tea Party dominating the headlines.
Sadly there was a lot of distortion and fear being manufactured by the Republicans. It seemed that almost overnight new Tea Party organizations, founded in fear and funded by the Koch Brothers, arrived on the scene to make false accusations against President Obama and health care reform. Not concerned with getting their facts straight, they said that the bill would kick people off of their current healthcare, they said we were going to take over people's bank accounts, and they even said that we were going to set up special death panels to ration health care.
Now, nearly a year and a half later, Americans are getting a clear picture of how health insurance reform positively affects their lives. It means that young people can stay on their parent's insurance policy until they are 26. It means that people won't be denied care based on preexisting conditions. And it means that seniors who receive Medicare, who have fallen through the cracks for far too long, can get out of the doughnut hole.
In fact, just this week, we received new statistics on how the Affordable Care Act is helping seniors who were stuck in the Medicare Part D Doughnut hole. Seniors have been hit disproportionately hard by these tough economic times and, in far too many cases, they've been forced to choose between their prescriptions or putting food on the table. But since this bill was signed into law, 2.65 million seniors in the Medicare doughnut hole have started receiving a 50% discount on brand name drugs.
Here's how the Affordable Care Act has helped seniors in the doughnut hole over the course of the last year in Michigan:
- 60,904 Michigan seniors in the doughnut hole received a 50% discount on brand name prescription drugs and made 316,641 prescription drug purchases in the last year.
- These same seniors saved $33,843,855 -- that's an average savings of $555 in the last year.
Even though there is concrete proof that 61,000 Michigan seniors saved $33 million for prescription drugs, Tea Party politicians are still shouting "socialism."
So the next time you hear Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich or any other Republican politician screaming "repeal Obamacare," ask them why they want to make it more expensive for seniors to receive their prescription drugs. Ask them whose side they're really on.
I'll fight for seniors every day of the week and I proudly stand by my vote to pass President Obama's Affordable Care Act. So long as House Republicans continue their war on seniors, whether it's this issue, the Ryan budget to "end Medicare," or their plan to gamble Social Security on the stock market, I will keep fighting and will never back down.