WASHINGTON - Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) released the following statement this afternoon to mark the 45th anniversary of Medicare:
"Forty-five years ago, Medicare was signed into law. With one signature, millions of American seniors' lives were dramatically improved. Medicare has ensured that virtually all American seniors have access to the health coverage they need and depend on. Nearly five decades after its inception, our seniors continue to have access to high quality, affordable care, which means they can lead longer, healthier lives. This year alone, Medicare will provide health insurance coverage to 47 million elderly or permanently disabled Americans. Forty-five years after Medicare's creation, my colleagues and I continue to fight for our seniors and this vital program that they depend on every day. In the Affordable Care Act, we strengthen the promise of Medicare by ensuring that we'll have the money to maintain its high quality care for decades to come. Recipients of Medicare will see their benefits enhanced under the new health reform law, with free annual wellness visits, more affordable premiums, and an eventual end to the Medicare Part prescription drug program "donut hole," that was so costly to our nations seniors.
"We are also working to ensure that Medicare remains solvent by curbing waste, fraud and abuse. Careless errors or criminal behavior steal precious taxpayer funds from the Medicare program, interfering with the services seniors rely on. Through my subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, we have examined this issue closely, and worked with the Administration to improve and expand programs to curb waste and fraud. For example, the successful Recovery Audit Contractors initiative is recovering improper Medicare expenditures, and helping to stop these wasteful or fraudulent payments before they happen.
"For forty-five years Medicare has been an important safety net for America's seniors, the disabled and their families. I look forward to continuing my efforts to improve and strengthen this critical program so we can look forward to celebrating many more anniversaries in Medicare's storied history."