A choice of two futures

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A column by Congressman Brett Guthrie

Our great nation is facing some tough challenges. My friend and colleague Congressman Paul Ryan (WI-01) often says we have a choice of two futures. I could not agree more. We can continue the disastrous policies the current Administration is pursuing, such as a one-size fits all health care law that is raising costs, or we can move toward a path of sound policies that will lead to economic growth.

Our nation is facing unprecedented debt and fiscal disarray. We cannot simply cut Medicare, as President Obama did in his health care law.  Nor can we ignore the ballooning costs within the program that lead to cuts to providers, fewer options for seniors, and physicians who choose to no longer accept Medicare.  Instead, we need to carefully review all of the programs our government is funding. Like many of you have been forced to do, it’s time for Washington to make some tough choices so we can reign in this runaway spending.

To strengthen the future of Medicare, I supported a bipartisan plan that would allow all individuals ages 55 and older to keep the Medicare we know today. Current seniors and those approaching retirement would not see any change in their Medicare benefits. Claims to the contrary have actually been called the biggest political lie of 2011, according to PolitiFact. The plan would give younger generations (those under age 54) a choice for their retirement that would be comparable to the coverage that Members of Congress receive today.

It is simply untrue that seniors would be forced to pay higher premiums to stay on Medicare. In fact, the plan I supported includes additional funds for low-income seniors to ensure that all seniors have access to quality and affordable health care.  In addition, the plan allows any future senior to stay on traditional Medicare if they choose.

Revised estimates by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office state that President Obama’s health care law cuts more than $700 billion from Medicare. Instead of introducing their own plan to make Medicare solvent, the Administration continues to use scare tactics and misleading rhetoric to alarm seniors. CBO also asserts that Medicare will be bankrupt in 2020 unless we alter its course. That is only eight years away – we must act now.

I came to Washington with the commitment to put the best interests of my fellow Kentuckians first. I know how vital Medicare is, which is why I want to protect it and provide certainty for both current and future generations of seniors.

The word “uncertainty” is one we have heard a lot lately. You hear it in terms of our economy, taxes, health care and energy. While much of our future remains clouded, there is one thing I am certain of – Medicare is a crucial institution and one that I hope will be around for future generations. However, this can only be true if we work together to establish real solutions for tomorrow. I know it is possible, and that’s why I hope our nation chooses to pursue the path to prosperity.

• Brett Guthrie is a United States Congressman, representing Kentucky’s 2nd District.