Senate and House Democrats, led by Bernie Sanders, are calling on the President-elect to veto any legislation that would slash funds for Medicare and Medicaid.
Incoming Senate Democratic leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Sanders (D-Vt.) are also urging other congressional representatives to help organize nationwide rallies to save the programs.
“Millions of Americans voted for Donald Trump after he promised not to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid,” the letter sent Wednesday states. “He must be held to his promises."
Sunday, Jan. 15, will be a “day of action,” the letter states. “Rallies will be held around the country to vigorously oppose the Republican plan to end Medicare as we know it and throw our health care system into chaos.”
During his campaign, Trump said he wouldn't touch Medicare. Soon after his surprise victory, Republican leaders signaled they want to see Medicare turn into a “premium-support” system that pays private plans and the traditional fee-for-service program a fixed amount per beneficiary.
The Democrats' letter warns that an upcoming budget resolution bill aimed at dismantling the Affordable Care Act would likely end guaranteed Medicare benefits by turning Medicare into a voucher, or premium support, program.
The bill is expected to get a House floor vote the week of Jan. 9, according to a memo from Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, CQ Roll Call reported. The legislation is expected to undo the ACA insurance exchanges and roll back the Medicaid expansion, potentially leaving as many as 20 million people uninsured.
The premium support system, which is supported by House Speaker Paul Ryan, would provide Medicare beneficiaries a fixed dollar amount to purchase a private plan or traditional Medicare coverage. Ryan argues this approach would put Medicare on the path to sustainability. Some worry that the system could ultimately reduce benefits for seniors and raise out-of-pocket costs.
Sanders and other Democrats also said the budget bill could lead to higher prescription drug prices for millions of seniors and people with disabilities, while also hiking taxes on “average Americans” and giving tax breaks to the wealthy.