April 04, 2015

We’ve Earned Our Programs… We’ll Keep Fighting For Them!

The newly-elected Congress is controlled by stalwart opponents to our Retirement Security in both the House and Senate, so it isn’t surprising that they aren’t wasting any time going after Medicare and Social Security.

On day one the GOP House leadership put forward new rules to force a crisis around Social Security funding. They are pitting retirees against disabled workers by refusing to allow funds to be reallocated to the Social Security Disability Insurance Fund, as has been done 11 times in the past.  Without reallocation, the SSDI program will become insolvent in 2016 and beneficiaries will see a 20% cut in their already meager benefits.

Predictions of attacks on Medicare are coming true with the budgets released by House and Senate Republicans.  They would end Medicare as we know it by replacing Medicare’s guaranteed health benefits with a voucher (“premium support”) to be used to buy coverage through private insurance.  Such a scheme would erode traditional Medicare, enticing younger and healthier retirees into private plans and leaving older, sicker beneficiaries in the traditional Medicare program. Traditional Medicare would soon become more expensive and eventually “drown in the bathtub.”  They also propose billions of dollars in unnamed Medicare cuts, including greater means testing and higher deductibles for Medigap policies.  These moves all but guarantee significant harm to the health and economic security of current and future generations of Medicare beneficiaries.

At the same time, Congress is considering legislation to change how Medicare doctors are paid.  A “compromise” bill gives increases to Medicare doctors, but shifts $30 billion in costs to beneficiaries.

Once again, there are calls for a commission to “reform” Social Security by extracting cuts.  Others would revive the Bowles-Simpson plan, which recommended raising the eligibility age and cutting benefits.

So, get ready to fight back.  Americans overwhelmingly support these programs and do not want to see them cut.  Instead, let’s expand Social Security, our most successful anti-poverty program, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year.  Let’s protect and improve Medicare, celebrating 50 years of providing affordable health care coverage to seniors and people with disabilities.

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