Most Americans are very thankful that we live in a country that takes care of its senior citizens and doesn't break the promises that have been made to them about Social Security and Medicare. I intend to fight to make sure that these two wonderful programs are not dismantled by those who would do so for political reasons.
As we entered Thanksgiving week I had the opportunity to speak with thousands of Nebraskans on a telephone town hall meeting sponsored by the American Association of Retired Persons.
The person who introduced me started off by saying no one should be playing politics with Social Security or Medicare benefits and she is absolutely right.
These are programs that have improved the lives of Nebraskans -- and seniors throughout the country -- for a long time. They work and I will fight to protect them.
We have to stay watchful. Can you imagine if the proposal several years ago to privatize Social Security had been adopted?
One look at the Stock Market's ups and downs tells you that would have been a terrible move. More than 300,000 Nebraskans who get Social Security benefits would feel betrayed today.
Back in 1966, I was a young man working for the insurance commissioner of the State of Nebraska. One of my responsibilities was to help implement a historic new program called Medicare.
I have been involved with Medicare from the beginning. For 45 years, I have heard the skeptics and the naysayers say Medicare is a bad idea ... and I've heard a lot of plans to weaken or dismantle it.
But I've also seen how successful Medicare has been at providing Nebraskans with the health care they need. And I've seen how it ... and Social Security ... protect the quality of life for seniors during their retirement years.
As a result, I am passionate about Medicare. I am committed to protecting it from those who want to cut benefits ... or to privatize Medicare by turning it into a voucher program.
That's a bad idea. Their goal is to end Medicare as we know it.
I believe that by reducing the cost of delivering benefits, we can continue this valuable program for future generations.
Preventive screenings and early detection saves lives and saves money. New technologies can reduce paperwork and reduce administrative overhead costs. We can provide incentives so doctors end the practice of defensive medicine.
And we can promote better coordination of care, so patients don't need the same tests done over and over by different doctors ... saving everyone time and preventing extra expenses.
These, and other steps, can add up to significant savings.
I want to make clear; no one is talking about rationing health care to save money on Medicare. That would be morally wrong, and the law prohibits it.
Medicare and Social Security are promises we made to seniors, and I intend to keep them.