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What You Need to Know: Medicare + State of the Union

On February 12, 2013, President Obama delivered his State of the Union address to Congress and the nation.  In this speech, he laid out his priorities for the next four years.  The following is a round-up of the President’s statements on Medicare, as well as those of Senator Marco Rubio, who delivered the GOP response speech, PFM’s response, and relevant media coverage of the State of the Union and its implications for Medicare.

President Obama

“Yes, the biggest driver of our long-term debt is the rising cost of health care for an aging population.  And those of us who care deeply about programs like Medicare must embrace the need for modest reforms – otherwise, our retirement programs will crowd out the investments we need for our children, and jeopardize the promise of a secure retirement for future generations.”

“On Medicare, I’m prepared to enact reforms that will achieve the same amount of health care savings by the beginning of the next decade as the reforms proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission.  Already, the Affordable Care Act is helping to slow the growth of health care costs.  The reforms I’m proposing go even further.  We’ll reduce taxpayer subsidies to prescription drug companies and ask more from the wealthiest seniors.”

“We’ll bring down costs by changing the way our government pays for Medicare, because our medical bills shouldn’t be based on the number of tests ordered or days spent in the hospital – they should be based on the quality of care that our seniors receive.  And I am open to additional reforms from both parties, so long as they don’t violate the guarantee of a secure retirement.  Our government shouldn’t make promises we cannot keep – but we must keep the promises we’ve already made.”

Click here for the full transcript of the President’s speech.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)

“The biggest obstacles to balancing the budget are programs where spending is already locked in. One of these programs, Medicare, is especially important to me. It provided my father the care he needed to battle cancer and ultimately die with dignity. And it pays for the care my mother receives now.”

“I would never support any changes to Medicare that would hurt seniors like my mother. But anyone who is in favor of leaving Medicare exactly the way it is right now, is in favor of bankrupting it.”

“Republicans have offered a detailed and credible plan that helps save Medicare without hurting today's retirees.”

Click here for the full transcript of Senator Rubio’s speech.

PFM Reaction

The Partnership for the Future of Medicare (PFM) is pleased that President Obama made a point to discuss the need for Medicare reform in his State of the Union address. We are encouraged by his specific assertion that we must change the way we pay for Medicare, so that providers are rewarded for quality rather than volume.  PFM is also pleased that Senator Rubio highlighted the need for Medicare reform in his response speech.   We believe that there is more agreement than disagreement on the need to evolve to a more modern Medicare system and that a bi-partisan path forward is possible.  As a group, we have set out guard rails to help provide a framework for a bi-partisan consensus on Medicare.

In The News

President Obama Calls For 'Modest Reforms' To Medicare

Kaiser Health News; February 13, 2013

The Medicare Change Obama Was Talking About

Bloomberg News; February 13, 2013

Three ways Obama wants to cut Medicare

Washington Post Wonkblog, February 13, 2013

No new overtures on healthcare

The Hill; February 12, 2013

Thursday, February 13, 2014