All blog posts related to the issue: Health Care
  • Ron fights to make sure Medicare guarantee is protected in budget deal

    Budget agreement passed by Congress includes important protections for seniors and vulnerable Americans championed by Ron

    Last week, Congress passed a major budget agreement that will put a stop to the destructive budget battles in Washington that have threatened our economy for more than four years.

    Ron championed two critical parts of the agreement to ensure seniors and people receiving Social Security don’t face the threat of increased health costs or benefit cuts next year.

    First, the agreement keeps Medicare Part B premiums from spiking by more than 50% for nearly a third of Medicare beneficiaries. That’s more than 300,000 Oregonians. And it prevents a similar rise in deductibles for everyone in Medicare. Earlier this month Ron led the charge to make sure this issue was addressed by the end of the year by introducing a bill backed by nearly a third of the Senate.

    Second, the budget agreement prevents a benefit cut for millions of disabled Americans who count on the Social Security Disability Insurance program. All workers who use the program have paid in, and it is unfair and wrong if they don’t receive what they have earned. Ron made it clear he would go to the mat for these vulnerable Americans when he led the introduction of a bill to ensure nobody faced benefit cuts next year. 

    Bipartisan compromise is tough and rarely perfect, but when it protects benefits Americans have earned it’s important to step up and take action. In the coming months, Ron will continue fighting for folks who receive Medicare and Social Security and all those who don’t have powerful interest groups in Washington to stand up for them.

  • Ron calls for renewal of CHIP at Randall Children’s Hospital

    As part of Ron’s work to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), he spoke on Friday in Portland with pediatricians, medical officials and healthcare advocates for the African-American and Latino communities.

    What Ron heard during his meeting at Randall Children’s Hospital was agreement on the need for Congress to extend CHIP -- and to do so quickly so that state legislatures nationwide can know they can count on the federal program as they put together their budgets.

    “What I am hearing from advocates like you is the need for certainty and predictability,’’ said Ron, who also toured the children’s hospital--Oregon’s largest provider of pediatric inpatient and trauma services. 

    About 10 million children rely on CHIP for access to comprehensive, affordable health care. In Oregon, that includes 128,000 children, a number that would fill each seat in Portland’s Moda Center six times over.

    The uninsured rate for children has dropped dramatically since CHIP’s enactment, nationally from 14 percent in 1997 to a record low of 7 percent in 2012--and in Oregon over the same time period, the rate of 10 percent in 1997 has been nearly cut in half.

    We should build on this success,” Ron said, “not put it at risk.”

  • A Health Care Lifeline that Benefits Us All

    The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides quality affordable care for 10 million kids. Sen. Wyden is leading the fight to extend this program that's so crucial for America's kids. 

    This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post on February 22, 2015.

    CHIP: A Health Care Lifeline That Benefits Us All

    By Sens. Ron Wyden, Sherrod Brown, Debbie Stabenow and Bob Casey

    We talk about a lot of issues in the U.S. Senate - taxes, education, ways to smartly balance the use of our natural resources and how to help everybody achieve the American Dream, to name just a few.

    Each one is important and each is worthy of our attention.

    But if you're not healthy - and especially if your children aren't healthy and they don't have access to comprehensive, affordable health care - those matters fade in importance. The quality of health care and our ability to use it touches all of us. And that's why we want to spend a few minutes highlighting the importance of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and why we and other Democrats in the Senate are locking arms tightly to make sure CHIP is here to stay.

    Simply put, CHIP is a success and millions of kids are healthier because of it. CHIP is a federal-state partnership created in 1997 that provides comprehensive and affordable care to 10 million kids who in most cases are in families that earn too much income to qualify for Medicaid but too little to be able to afford private health insurance.

    Every state has taken advantage of CHIP and that's one reason the uninsured rate for children has dropped dramatically since CHIP's enactment - from 14 percent in 1997 to a record low of 7 percent in 2012.

    The program has always enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress and last year, nearly 40 governors responded to a joint request by the Senate Finance Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee for ground-level feedback about CHIP. Support for the program was universal with Democratic and Republican governors alike praising the services CHIP provides and how it is run and managed.

    But here's the catch: Funding for CHIP runs out on Sept. 30 unless Congress acts. We can't let that happen. That's the reason we introduced legislation on Feb. 12 that would guarantee funding for CHIP through 2019. We've named the bill the"Protecting & Retaining Our Children's Health Insurance Program (PRO-CHIP) Act of 2015."


    It's a good bill for a great program and there isn't time to waste. Governors have told us in no uncertain terms that they need Congress to act now because now is when most states are finalizing their budgets for the year. Congress needs to act within the next few months so both states and millions of people who depend on CHIP have certainty.

    The bill we've introduced is a path of least resistance and one that senators from both parties can support. It essentially extends the current program - as is - through 2019. This is the same program that nine Republican senators and 40 Republican House members supported in 2009, the last time CHIP was considered by Congress. More recently, governors as diverse as Gary Herbert, a Republican from Utah and Deval Patrick, a Democrat from Massachusetts wrote to Congress last year expressing support for CHIP and urging Congress to extend it as soon as possible. And last month, former Sen. Bill Frist - a Republican, former Senate Majority Leader and a physician - tweeted this: "I fought for Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 1997, and Congress must extend CHIP this year."

    He's right.

    The stakes are high. With CHIP's strong performance over the years and its bipartisan history there is no reason for delay and for doing what's necessary to ensure that 10 million kids continue receiving the comprehensive, affordable care they need.

    Wyden is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee. Senators Brown, Stabenow and Casey are members of the Senate Finance Committee.