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Schumer braced for Medicare fight

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Charles E. Schumer vowed Wednesday to fight Republicans who may propose major changes to Medicare -- most notably Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, President Donald J. Trump's nominee for health secretary.

“I’m urging my Senate colleagues to keep Medicare off the partisan chopping block, and I plan to use my new role to make sure that Medicare is not only preserved, but strengthened for generations to come," said Schumer, a New York Democrat who now serves as Senate minority leader and who wants to block Price's confirmation.

Schumer told reporters he's especially worried about what Price could do to Medicare, the federal health care program for the elderly.

While President Trump has vowed to preserve Medicare, Price has called Medicare "an intrusion into medicine" by the federal government, and told a Capitol Hill newspaper last fall that he expects the new Congress to try to reform the program in the first six to eight months of this year.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., has long supported a Medicare reform plan that would limit government spending by giving seniors a set payment to allow them to buy insurance, rather than underwriting their medical use directly.

Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, recently told reporters that Congress had to find ways to reform Medicare because it is running short on funds.

"Medicare is in need of reform in order to save it," he said.

Some 268,176 seniors in Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties are on Medicare.

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