Merkley co-sponsors bill to avert Medicare cuts

WASHINGTON - Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., on Thursday cosponsored the Medicare Protection Act, legislation that expresses strong opposition to changes in Medicare that would reduce or eliminate guaranteed benefits or raise the eligibility age for hard-working seniors.

Today, more than 46 million Americans rely on Medicare.

"Raising the Medicare eligibility age would be absolutely disastrous," the senator said.

"In my town halls, I hear from a lot of Oregonians who are in their early 60s and are praying they make it to 65 to receive their Medicare benefits," Merkley said. "If anything, we should be lowering the eligibility age. Medicare is an important lifeline for our seniors, and must be protected from hostile attacks to privatize it or weaken it."

The Medicare Protection Act would amend the Congressional Budget Act to define any provision included in reconciliation legislation that makes changes to Medicare to reduce or eliminate guaranteed benefits or restrict eligibility criteria as extraneous and an inappropriate use of the reconciliation process.

The bill would also express the sense of the Senate that 1) the Medicare eligibility age should not be increased and 2) the Medicare program should not be privatized or turned into a voucher system.

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