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News Archives (2015)

As Congressional budget negotiators continue their work on an end-of-year spending bill, an effort to fund the vitally important World Trade Center Health Program which provides health care benefits and compensation for America’s 9-11 first responders, is being held hostage by Congressional leaders who want billions in cuts from Medicare and Medicaid to pay for it.


At the risk of damning by faint praise, the newly negotiated budget deal certainly could have been a lot worse. The good news is Democrats in Congress and the White House were able to stop a 52% premium increase from hitting millions of seniors in Medicare next year.  They also negotiated a re-allocation (originally blocked by the GOP) for the Social Security disability program that prevents a massive benefit cut in 2016 for Americans with disabilities.  In this current Congressional atmosphere of hostage-taking and never-ending threats to benefits, these victories are significant.


Today’s announcement that there will be no Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase next year, for only the third time in 40 years, means that millions of seniors who rely on their Social Security to get by will once again find their expenses outpacing their Social Security benefit.  For 30% of Medicare beneficiaries, Part B premiums are now projected to increase next year by 52%—up to $159.30 per month from $104.90. This increase will be also accompanied by an increase in the Part B deductible—up to $223 from $147.  


The economic impact of this retirement deficit is far-reaching and could imperil generations of Americans.  That’s why the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, in partnership with the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University and The Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement at Drake University, are hosting a thought leadership symposium on the critical issue of Retirement Security.


President Franklin Delano Roosevelt remains one of America’s most popular Presidents for good reason. FDR successfully led us through a world war and a depression.  His legacy lives today in many ways but especially in the creation of one of America’s most successful income security programs...Social Security.


Dropping the Social Security cuts from the highway bill is the right thing to do for the millions of Americans who expect their Social Security contributions to stay in the program. Using Social Security as Congress’ ATM to fund unrelated programs takes earned benefits away from retirees, people with disabilities and their families already living on modest incomes.


No doubt, today’s unsurprising news in the Trustees Reports for Social Security and Medicare will be overshadowed by the same crisis calls we hear each and every year from those determined to cut benefits or privatize the programs.  Today’s reports lay out in clear terms how stable Social Security and Medicare remain. Rather than use the disability program’s projected shortfall as a political opportunity to target the entire Social Security program for cuts, Congress can pass a simple reallocation, as has happened without controversy 11 previous times.  Or, even better, Congress could pass new legislation, introduced today by Rep. Xavier Becerra, to combine the Social Security Trust Funds.  There are ways to avoid a massive benefit cut Americans with disabilities simply cannot afford without targeting the entire Social Security program for cuts.


The National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare celebrated Medicare’s anniversary at a Capitol Hill event today with Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Johns Hopkins researcher, Dr. Frank Lin and a Michigan senior who has hearing loss, urging Congress to allow Medicare to provide hearing aid coverage for millions of older Americans.


Across the country, seniors and their advocates are preparing to celebrate Medicare’s 50th anniversary on July 30th. And, they have good reason to celebrate. Through the years, with the guidance of health policy experts and support from Congress and the White House, Medicare has proven to be a dynamic program with a successful record of addressing the changing health needs of persons 65 years of age and older. But, for a program which fills a critical need for millions of beneficiaries, the lack of certain coverage which addresses the well-being of the whole person must be a part of the planning strategy for the next 50 years. Hearing, vision and dental services are not currently covered by Medicare. This leaves millions of seniors at a loss to pay for services that are crucial to maintaining a healthy, independent lifestyle.     


New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s decision to add his name to the growing roster of benefit cut candidates running in GOP Presidential primary offers little reassurance to millions of American families who are facing a retirement crisis. He doesn’t live up to his ‘Tell it like it is’ campaign slogan when he avoids the facts about the stability of Social Security and Medicare. 

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Congress is targeting the health and financial well-being of America’s seniors by making yet another attempt to privatize Medicare. Yesterday the House Budget Committee passed the GOP’s FY 2018 budget resolution, which includes Speaker Paul Ryan’s “Medicare premium support” scheme – an innocuous name for turning time-tested senior health care coverage into “Coupon-Care.”

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