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Obama's Promise for Change...What about Social Security and Medicare?

Here is a video we've produced asking the simple question...Now What?

Budget Director Peter Orszag? What would that mean for Medicare & Social Security?

President-elect Obama is prepared to select Congressional Budget Office Director Peter Orszag as his administration's Budget Director, according to the National Journal.   

Orszag has been appropriately praised here in Washington for his clear-eyed perspectives on the economic challenges facing our nation and the role skyrocketing healthcare costs plays in those economic woes.  He's refused to buy the anti-entitlement crowd's strategy of lumping Social Security and Medicare together (even though their challenges are unique) while ignoring the need for nationwide healthcare reform, as a way to justify their "we can't afford entitlements" campaign.  We have referenced many of his speeches and Congressional testimony including here, here, and here.   Most encouraging to us is his refusal to use our current economic mess as yet another excuse to avoid healthcare reform.  Most recently he blogged:  

"Although it may not seem immediately relevant given our current difficulties, it will be crucial to address the nation's looming fiscal gap - which is driven primarily by rising health care costs - as the economy eventually recovers from this current downturn."
On Social Security, Orszag co-authored "Saving Social Security: A Balanced Approach" which suggests reducing Social Security benefits for higher income seniors, raising the retirement age and increasing the taxable wage base.  The New York Times also has an interesting article on Orszag, including a funny exchange he had with CNN's Lou Dobbs 

Medicare Part D Help Available

Enrollment for Medicare's Part D prescription drug coverage begins this weekend, on November 15th.  This year, more than ever, America's seniors must be sure they've analyzed their current Part D drug plan's changes for 2009 and compared them with other prescription drug plans.   A careful review is especially important this year because the average Part D premium increases are the largest seniors have faced since the program began in 2006, and the first time the annual percentage rise has gone into double digits.  One survey reports that nationwide, 2009 premiums are going up an average of about 25 percent and for the 10 most popular plans, premiums will be raised by more than 30 percent. Seniors should be aware that drug plans can change the prescriptions they cover, the co-payments charged, and the coverage rules they use.  To assist seniors and their caregivers confused by the complexity of the drug benefit, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare has published the 2009 Part D from A-Z booklet containing answers to frequently asked questions about the drug benefit. The National committee's goal is to help America's seniors and their caregivers make the most educated choice possible as they consider enrollment in Medicare Part D.   Individual copies of the booklet are available free of charge and can be requested by calling 1-800-966-1935 or by visiting the National Committee's website. Some of the topics covered in Part D from A-Z include: 
  • The Medicare Part D Benefit and How it Works 
  • Enrollment 
  • Picking a Plan 
  • How to Use the CMS drug plan finder 

Working to Reform Healthcare AND Medicare

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare and eight other national seniors and healthcare advocacy organizations have joined forces urging President-elect Obama and the new Congress to make Medicare a priority in future healthcare reform discussions.  The coalition says:  "Medicare can play a leading role in system-wide reforms that curb the growth in health care costs and make coverage affordable to taxpayers and consumers.  We believe our nation will benefit if affordable, quality, health care is made available to all Americans, and that strengthening Medicare is an integral part of this reform. Medicare savings initiatives that shift costs onto beneficiaries or curtail eligibility, however, undermine the health security of those who rely on Medicare and are counter to the goal of ensuring affordable quality guaranteed health care for all."   A letter outlining the coalition's shared healthcare reform goals was delivered to the White House and Congress today.  This is just the first of the group's ongoing efforts to insure that strengthening Medicare for the millions of current and future beneficiaries is a priority for lawmakers and the President as they consider national healthcare reform.  Coalition members include:  
Alliance for Retired Americans Alzheimer's Association American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Center for Medicare Advocacy FamiliesUSA Medicare Rights Center National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare National Senior Citizens Law Center OWL - The Voice of Midlife and Older Women
And there's another new healthcare alliance recently created: The Alliance to Restore Medicare (ARM) will submit a six-part plan to Congress and the President urging the reversal of the harmful provisions of the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act (MMA).  MMA and its many privatization provisions severely undermine traditional Medicare, endangering not only its survival but also weakening the social insurance model for universal health coverage.  ARM proposes a thorough study of  (1) why the cost of the average patient's care is rising so quickly throughout the U.S. health system, and (2) ways to control costs so that Medicare's financial integrity is ensured and beneficiaries get the health care they need without undue financial stress.  ARM members include:
 American Medical Women's Association American Public Health Association Campaign for America's Future Center for Medicare Advocacy Islamic Society of North America Medicare Rights Center National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare National Senior Citizens Law Center Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) Rekindling Reform Universal Health Care Action Network (UHCAN) 

Social Security Privatization Supporters Take a Beating

For eight long years, while the Social Security and Medicare programs were under attack by the Bush administration, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare led a national education and advocacy campaign to broaden nationwide opposition to the privatization movement and its supporters. The results of those years of NCPSSM efforts are in.  NCPSSM members and supporters have used the 2008 ballot boxes to say "enough is enough" - helping elect a significant number of Congressional candidates who understand the privatization of Social Security and Medicare is not the answer to long-term solvency.  In fact, 93% of the House and Senate candidates who were supported and/or endorsed by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare PAC have won their elections.
 "Social Security was a critical issue in many Congressional campaigns this season and voters overwhelming chose candidates who were crystal clear in their opposition to privatization. We look forward to working with the new Congress on measures which will preserve and strengthen both Social Security and Medicare for future generations."... Max Richtman, National Committee Executive VP and PAC Director
During the 2008 campaign season, the National Committee participated in Congressional Town Hall meetings, hosted Grassroots informational events for seniors, launched a broad voter education/outreach campaign, and ultimately endorsed and/or supported 180 candidates for the U.S. House and Senate.  That same broad outreach will now be focused on shaping public policy changes in the new 111th Congress. Among the National Committee's priorities for the new President and Congress are: 
  • Enact health care reform that slows the rate of growth in healthcare costs, reducing Medicare's costs for beneficiaries and the government
  • Eliminate wasteful subsidies to private Medicare programs and use that money to improve care for seniors 
  • Eliminate means-tested Part B premiums to keep Medicare affordable for all
As home equity evaporates, investment income plummets and healthcare costs skyrocket unchecked, programs such as Social Security and Medicare must continue to provide a vital lifeline for millions of American families during this and any other economic crisis. The National Committee is preparing its 2009 Legislative Agenda and will continue to be a leading voice for seniors during upcoming policy debates. On behalf of its millions of members and supporters nationwide, the NCPSSM will lobby Congress and the new President to pass legislation beneficial to seniors, the disabled, survivors and their families.

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Pamela Causey
Communications Director
Causeyp@ncpssm.org(202) 216-8378
(202) 236-2123 cell

Kim Wright
Assistant Director of Communications
Wrightk@ncpssm.org
(202) 216-8414

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