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Health Care Reform and Social Security?

Stethescope-moneyXSmall If you’re younger than 62 years of age, you might wonder what health care reform could possibly have to do with Social Security retirement benefits.  But the connection is painfully clear for millions of Social Security beneficiaries who have watched growing health care costs consume more and more of their monthly Social Security checks.    The Social Security Advisory board, (an independent group created to advise the President and Congress on Social Security issues) has released a new report  calling on Congress to find lasting solutions to the long-term problem of escalating health care costs.  
“This Board believes it is necessary to offer our own perspectives, not because we are particular experts in health care policy, but we believe that the rising cost of health care represents perhaps the most significant threat to the long-term economic security of workers and retirees. Current projections indicate that health care costs will increase by more than 70 percent over the next ten years and will continue thereafter to consume an increasingly greater portion of personal income. For today's retirees, for those retiring in 2009 who are expected to live another 20 years, and for younger workers in their 30s who will not begin their retirements until mid-century, unrestrained health care costs would likely mean a decline in their standard of living.”
In other Social Security news, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) has introduced legislation that would provide seniors and others who receive Social Security payments a one-time $150 payment to make up for the loss of the COLA.  The bill has 14 Democratic cosponsors.

Seniors Ignore Health Care Reform at their Own Peril

Here is Barbara Kennelly's, NCPSSM President/CEO, reaction to President Obama's health care address to Congress tonight:

 “There are so many reasons our nation needs health care reform and President Obama did a wonderful job of laying those out tonight.  The President clearly recognizes Medicare is a sacred trust and seniors are thankful he reiterated his strong commitment to protect Medicare at all costs. For seniors especially, it’s been a summer of misinformation and fear mongering and it’s time we start this debate anew focusing on what health care reform truly means for Americans, including Medicare beneficiaries.  From myths about death panels to rationed care, opponents of reform have tried to convince seniors that health care reform will destroy Medicare.  That’s just not true.

 However, seniors must understand that Medicare will be threatened if we don’t pass meaningful health care reform to control the high costs of care.  Benefits cuts are not included in any of the current reform proposals but that’s exactly what beneficiaries will face if we do nothing.  The status quo isn’t sustainable and failure to pass health care reform is not an option for seniors who rely on Medicare. Without reform, neither seniors nor the government will be able to afford the program and Medicare will be targeted with unprecedented benefit cuts, higher premiums, and growing out-of-pocket costs. We can’t allow ourselves to be frightened away from this historic opportunity to improve Medicare while also reforming our entire health care system. Change can be scary but doing nothing is even scarier.”

Will Health Care Reform Destroy Medicare?

That’s certainly one of the huge whoppers at the heart of this summer’s anti-health care reform fear-campaign. Problem’s just not so.  We’ve written about this a lot (even before the craziness this summer) and have compiled all of our policy pieces on our Truth Squad web page.  We’ve also released the 2nd video in the Truth Squad series today.  Watch it...Share it and Comment on it! Over the past few days, there have been a number of other reasonable and rational descriptions of what current health care reform proposals actually mean for Medicare.  Kaiser Health News’ Howard Gleckman says:  
“Opponents of health reform have targeted seniors with a blunt message: You will be big losers if "Obama-care" is enacted. In the words of Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele: "Senior citizens will pay a steeper price and will have their treatment options reduced or rationed."  Scary words. But, in truth, seniors are likely to be big winners if responsible health reform passes and prime victims if it fails. The casualties will not only be today's elders, but the Baby Boomers, who are the next generation of seniors. They will all pay the price if the existing health system is allowed to fester.”
And on Huffington Post, AARP’s John Rother, emphasizes the fact that benefit cuts are not proposed in any of the House or Senate plans (regardless of what Michael Steele says): 
“Let's face it: We need to make sure we save Medicare money, as every member of Congress well knows. But we need to protect benefits while at the same time we target waste - and we now have an opportunity to make smart savings that actually strengthen the program.  Take the problem of unplanned readmissions to the hospital. Follow-up care and guidance to help patients after discharge could lower costs as much as $17 billion a year. Reducing readmissions not only would save money, it would spare elderly patients the anguish of returning to the hospital due to poor follow-up care. " Another hunk of savings could come from gradually reducing the billions of dollars of subsidies the government pays to private insurance companies, known as Medicare Advantage. These subsidies cost the government 14% more per patient than traditional Medicare. Those tax dollars should go to helping seniors, not boosting insurance company profits. "
 Lastly we have to share the Associated Press’ “Spin Meter” analysis of the GOP’s new found love for Medicare.  Their lead line is “Weren’t Republicans against Medicare before they were for it?”  Indeed.

The National Committee's Truth Squad - Busting Health Care Reform Myths

America's seniors have a huge stake in the national health care reform debate. Unfortunately, well-financed misinformation campaigns have led many to believe health care reform will destroy Medicare.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  The National Committee's Truth Squad is mobilized to arm seniors with the facts about health care reform's impact on Medicare.   Without health care reform, Medicare will continue to suffer from skyrocketing costs associated with general health care costs, until neither seniors nor the government will be able to afford the program. This inevitably will lead to unprecedented cuts in Medicare-cuts that unlike current health care reform proposals-will directly target Medicare beneficiaries.  National health care reform provides an historic opportunity for us to improve Medicare by closing the Part D doughnut hole, allowing government negotiation of drug prices in Part D and eliminating billions of dollars of wasteful subsidies to private insurers in Medicare Advantage.  Ignoring Health Care Reform is not an option.  The Truth Squad tool kit is available on our website to anyone who's tired of the misinformation and wants the truth about health care reform and seniors.  It includes:  links to Health care reform policy analysis, "EntitledtoKnow" health care blog posts, a link where you can download your own myth busters badge and our Truth Squad video series.  We released Part 1 today:  We hope you'll share the Myth Busters badge with friends and wear it proudly to town halls and meetings with your members of Congress.  Because as President Franklin Roosevelt said:

"Repetition does not transform a lie into truth". 

The National Committee is mobilized to fight health care reform fiction with fact...we hope you'll join us.

HHS Finally Addresses Health Care-Medicare Myths

...and there certainly are a lot of them!  From death panels to rationing, the health care reform scare campaign has been in overdrive this month.  Of course, the problem is it's always easier to sell fear than facts and that couldn't be more evident than seen in many town halls nationwide.  Even so, cooler heads and rational discourse might now be making a comeback.   We've participated in plenty of town halls and have seen the gamut but this week's meeting with seniors in Springfield Virginia, hosted by Congressman Gerry Connolly give us hope that we're turning the corner from irrational screaming to legitimate, thoughtful debate.  C-Span provides coverage here.   We're also happy to see Health and Human Services release a new report clearly engaging seniors on the issues they care about most. America's Seniors and Health Insurance Reform addresses many critical issues to seniors such as: escalating Health Care Costs, Access to care and Medicare reforms.  Here are the reports' key findings:
America's seniors shoulder an increasing financial burden to get the care they need - a burden that could be alleviated. Medicare now and in the future will not continue to provide needed access to services if reforms are not made. Too many seniors do not get recommended care, including needed preventive and primary care services to keep seniors healthier, longer. Health Insurance Reform will Improve Access, Quality, and Affordability for America's Seniors 

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