Ensuring access to care for West Virginia seniors

U.S. Congressman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.)

December 11, 2013

I am absolutely committed to protecting Medicare. It is crucial to helping ensure that our seniors, especially those on fixed incomes, have access to quality and affordable health care, and can live and retire in dignity.

Seniors have a moral claim on the benefits they have earned over a lifetime of paying into the Medicare program; those obligations must be honored and seniors’ access to their care providers must be preserved.

Toward that goal, I have worked to enact legislation that would extend the solvency of the Medicare program by reducing improper payments and strengthening oversight, while also lowering the cost of care for seniors.

With my support, the Congress has passed legislation to expand coverage for seniors’ prescription drugs – gradually closing the so-called donut hole in drug coverage under Medicare Part D and reducing the out-of-pocket costs for seniors’ drug purchases.

As well, I have voted for legislation that resulted in no increase in the Medicare Part B premium for next year, and ensured access to Medicare Advantage plans.

I also am pushing back hard against proposals that would undercut Medicare’s guaranteed benefits. I have voted repeatedly against legislation put forward and passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives that would restructure Medicare into a voucher program – ending traditional Medicare and forcing seniors to pay more for less health coverage.

In addition, I am actively opposing cuts in payments to our physicians and health care facilities that rely on equitable reimbursements to keep their doors open. I remain in regular contact with Medicare officials to express my opposition to any administrative and legislative changes that would negatively affect the work of the dedicated professionals who care for seniors in our State.

Believing that all citizens deserve access to health care, I am working with Members of both parties to fix the flaws in the new health care law and ensure it works for West Virginians. I have, for example, cosponsored and supported legislation, such as the Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act, to protect Medicare benefits and ensure decisions about future benefits are not made by unaccountable bureaucrats.

Of course, there are always political groups with their own partisan agendas who will try to say differently and try to pull the wool over the eyes of West Virginians. Many of these anti-West Virginia groups are funded by billionaire outsiders, who hide behind anonymous fronts, and are pouring huge amounts of money into our State to mislead and scare our ill and elderly. I assure you that these shadowy groups do not have the best interests of our people at heart.

If they have their way, Medicare would not exist and access to quality care would be reserved only to those who could most afford it.

Throughout my tenure in Congress, I have fought for and supported legislation to expand access to quality and affordable healthcare for all Americans, regardless of income and location.

I have fought for legislation to bring health providers to underserved areas of our State and sought to increase investments in our health care workforce and rural hospitals and health clinics, so that they can train future physicians and provide high quality health services.

I am adamant in opposing budget cuts that would weaken Medicare and undercut access to health services for West Virginia seniors and I will fight against groups that make a mockery of the truth for their own political benefit.

Throughout my years serving the people of southern West Virginia, I have always voted to protect Social Security and Medicare, and I will continue to do so.

U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) represents West Virginia’s Third Congressional District. For more information, contact Diane Luensmann at 1-202-225-3452, or visit