Posted on 11/14/2016 10:35 AM By NCPSSM
Well, that didn’t take long. Just days after the election and already the GOP has confirmed, what we’ve been warning for months. Destroying traditional Medicare in favor of a privatized CouponCare system is at the top of the Republican agenda. In fact, they want it to happen as soon as next year.
“Below is a transcript of what Ryan said on Fox's Special Report, along with a flat out false statement suggesting that Obamacare has weakened Medicare's finances.
BRET BAIER: Your solution has always been to put things together including entitlement reform. That is Paul Ryan's plan. That's not Donald Trump's plan.
PAUL RYAN: Well, you have to remember, when Obamacare became Obamacare, Obamacare rewrote Medicare, rewrote Medicaid. If you are going to repeal and replace Obamacare, you have to address those issues as well. What a lot of folks don't realize is this 21-person board called the ipap is about to kick in with price controls on Medicare. What people don't realize is because of Obamacare, Medicare is going broke, Medicare is going to have price controls because of Obamacare, Medicaid is in fiscal straits. You have to deal with those issues if you are going to repeal and replace Obamacare. Medicare has serious problems [because of] Obamacare. Those are part of our plan.” ...Talking Points Memo
Let’s be crystal clear about this – without Obamacare, Medicare’s Part A trust fund would have faced insolvency now. Instead, because of the cost savings in the Affordable Care Act, including; trimming the billions in government subsidies going to the insurance industry in Medicare Advantage and productivity adjustments to how Medicare pays providers the program gained more than a decade of solvency.
“The net result was that the “insolvency” date was extended by 12 years. Before the law was passed, the trustees said in 2009, the fund was going to be depleted in 2017. “The short-range financial outlook for the HI [hospital insurance] trust fund is substantially more favorable than projected in last year’s annual report, primarily as a result of the Affordable Care Act,” the Medicare trustees said in their 2010 report, saying the fund would last until 2029.”...Washington Post
Fact checkers appropriately gave Speaker Ryan Four Pinnochios for this obvious lie:
“Medicare certainly faces financial stress as the baby-boom generation begins to retire in full force, but it’s important to get the facts straight. It’s bad enough that Ryan, like many politicians, uses imprecise rhetoric such as “broke”; that’s a Two-Pinocchio violation. But the House speaker really went off the rails when he said on national television that Obamacare is making the program go broke. That’s the exact opposite of what happened.”
As we’ve said here before, repeal of the ACA will have an immediate impact on seniors. While Republicans continue their cynical promise that “reforms” won’t touch current seniors (because they believe America’s “greedy geezers” only care about their own benefits and don’t care about what happens to their children and grandchildren) the truth is, repealing Obamacare hits millions of American seniors immediately and robs the Part A trust fund of more than a decade of solvency:
“Medicare’s financing challenges would be much greater without the health reform law (the Affordable Care Act, or ACA), which substantially improved the program’s financial outlook. Repealing the ACA, a course of action promoted by some who simultaneously claim that the program is approaching “bankruptcy,” would worsen Medicare’s financial situation.”... Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
“The Affordable Care Act strengthens Medicare's financing by increasing efforts to reduce waste, fraud and abuse; slowing the rate of increase in payments to providers; improving quality of care and phasing out overpayments to private Medicare Advantage plans, plans that are continuing to increase their enrollments each year. The impact of these provisions has already resulted in extending the solvency of the Medicare Part A Trust Fund by more than a decade and lowering Part B out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries.
In addition to Medicare beneficiaries, the Affordable Care Act is very important to millions of adults ages 50-64 who are uninsured because they do not have access to affordable private insurance. Many of these individuals are now able to purchase private insurance even if they have pre-existing medical conditions, and costs are more affordable due to the law's limits on age rating and the subsidies available for lower-income beneficiaries.
The number of uninsured “young seniors,” aged 50-64, would increase, leaving them in poorer health by the time they are eligible for Medicare – thereby increasing Medicare’s costs.”...NCPSSM, 2015 ACA Repeal Letter to Congress
And all of this only addresses the clearly false assertion made by Speaker Ryan that Medicare is going “bankrupt” and that Obamacare is the reason. What is equally important for seniors to understand is what Ryan’s CouponCare plan actually means for them. We’ll address that more completely in a future post but as a reminder: the Ryan plan will end traditional Medicare, privatizing it, while raising seniors’ costs. Under CouponCare seniors pay more for less coverage.
The GOP’s voucher plan works this way:
• Rather than you going to your doctor and Medicare pays the bill, under CouponCare the federal government will give you a voucher each year that you will then use to go out and buy private insurance out in the open market or to pay for Medicare.
• However, those coupons’ values are based on the cost of Medicare in a particular community or the second lowest private health insurance plan, whichever is cheaper. So if, you choose to stay in traditional Medicare, and it costs more than virtually the cheapest plan out there, you’ll pay more. Let’s be really clear, vouchers are designed to shift costs to seniors. That’s how the government saves money.
The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates 59% of seniors would have to pay higher premiums in order to receive the same Medicare plans they now have, with the average premium increase coming in at $107 per month, they didn’t even look at co-pays and out-of-pocket costs.
The Congressional Budget Office looked at this in 2011 and said it would double beneficiaries’ costs.
After George Bush won re-election in 2004 and the Republicans controlled Congress, privatizing Social Security was the first order of business. Here were go again -- but this time your Medicare is the target. The American people don’t support privatizing Medicare; however, it has long been the goal of conservatives who believe seniors should be forced back into a private insurance marketplace which history has proven, over and over again, they simply can’t afford.
Posted on 10/26/2016 2:43 PM By NCPSSM
The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare’s President/CEO, Max Richtman, has been named a “2016 Influencer in Aging” by Next Avenue, America’s online magazine for seniors.
“This is a transformative time in which millions of Americans are redefining what it means to grow old. It is a quiet revolution,” said Susan Donley, managing director of Next Avenue. “This year’s list uncovers a range of leaders who have made exceptional contributions to that sea change. Next Avenue is proud to honor and celebrate these men and women, and their remarkable work.”
Max Richtman is a former staff director of the Senate Special Committee on Aging and 16-year veteran of Capitol Hill. As NCPSSM’s President/CEO, he leads the National Committee’s policy and advocacy work on behalf of millions of American seniors who depend on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
In addition to being appointed to the 2016 Platform Committee for the Democratic National Committee (DNC), he is vice-chair of the Seniors Coordinating Council of the DNC, a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance, Bloomberg BNA Medicare Report Advisory Board, the District of Columbia Bar and a recipient of the 2013 Gray Panthers Social Justice Award and 2014 Winn Newman Equality Award from Americans for Democratic Action.
When asked, “If you could change one thing about aging in America, what would it be?” Richtman said:
"Ageism continues to exist. We see it in the workplace, in public debate, between generations and in social policy. If I could change one thing about aging in the U.S. it would be how our government leaders address ageism through public law. They must ensure that all seniors and their families have ample and easy access to health, income and job security, community supports and a robust aging network that offers choice, independence and dignity."
This year’s Influencers in Aging list also includes researchers like; MacArthur “Genius Grant” winner Anne Basting, legendary television producer/writer Norman Lear, Sarita Gupta, co-founder of Caring Across Generations and advocate for government policies supporting home care workers; Phyllis Borzi, the person in charge of the Employee Benefits Security Administration for the U.S. Department of Labor.
Posted on 10/20/2016 9:06 AM By NCPSSM
OK...we're just 18 days until election day and the final debate has come and gone. Thank goodness.
While Social Security and Medicare finally got their 90 seconds of fame last night, as expected, the question was framed exactly how Washington's well-funded fiscal hawks had hoped -- America can't afford "entitlements," (wrong), the programs are the biggest drivers of our debt (nope), are going bankrupt (actually no, they're not) and then the real heart of the question: How are you going to cut benefits?
Unfortunately, this approach guaranteed there would be no real conversation about the benefits millions of seniors depend on. Here is NCPSSM's President/CEO, Max Richtman's reaction:
“Rather than focusing on the candidate’s plans for improving Social Security and Medicare’s long-term solvency, strengthening benefits and tackling the retirement crisis looming for millions of workers and retirees, last night’s viewers were stuck with the same old crisis calls that ‘entitlements’ are bankrupting America. No doubt, Washington’s billion dollar anti-Social Security lobby was happy to have some life pumped back into their middle-class killing campaign to cut benefits; however, America’s voters deserved far more from this debate.
Make no mistake about it, the choices between Clinton and Trump couldn’t be starker. Donald Trump’s Social Security shape-shifting leaves voters with no idea of how he plans to improve solvency and benefit adequacy. Doing nothing isn’t an option. Contrary to his insult last night, hearing Hillary Clinton tell the truth about how to strengthen Social Security's funding isn't ‘nasty,’ it's just reality. As long as America's wealthiest are allowed to avoid paying their share of payroll taxes, Social Security suffers. Period. While Clinton supports expanding benefits, Trump’s only policy promise last night was to repeal Obamacare. That cuts years from Medicare’s solvency and billions in preventive care, prescription drugs and cost-reducing benefits to seniors.
Most Americans know that our nation faces a retirement crisis. Our economy depends on strong Social Security and Medicare programs and improving benefits is vital to keeping millions from poverty. Too bad voters weren’t allowed to hear any of that debated last night.”...Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO
Posted on 10/14/2016 1:55 PM By NCPSSM
News that Social Security and Medicare might finally be topics discussed in the last Presidential debate on Wednesday night should be welcome news for those of us who’ve worked hard all year to try and get Presidential candidates to talk specifics about their plans for the nation’s most important government programs. It should be...but unfortunately, it’s not.
Why? Because, debate moderator Chris Wallace says “entitlements” will be discussed as part of a debt discussion. This framing follows the talking points crafted by the billion dollar Wall Street/corporate funded anti-Social Security and Medicare lobby that’s worked for decades to cut benefits. Framing benefits cuts as a way to “save” Social Security and Medicare while reducing the debt has long been the poll-tested language used to sell the American people on middle-class benefit cuts to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy:
“The push for benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in the name of deficit reduction has always been the goal of the billion dollar corporate and Wall Street backed crisis campaign driving Washington's deficit hysteria. “Never let a good crisis go to waste” was a strategic political move capitalizing on deficits as a way to force middle-class benefit cuts on Americans already shell-shocked in the Great Recession. Once deficits reduced (without the drastic cuts to benefits that corporate lobbyists assured us must happen), the anti-“entitlement” lobby lost its inside-the-Beltway political momentum.”...Entitled to Know
Lumping Social Security and Medicare together and calling them “entitlements” is also telling. These are earned benefits, not entitlements, which American workers have contributed to throughout their working lives. Conservatives have long used the word “entitlements” to make those earned benefits seem like welfare. This political strategy also ignores the fact that Social Security and Medicare are unique programs, providing different services to a diverse group of Americans. These programs face very distinctive challenges. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for America’s most important healthcare program (Medicare) and retirement security program (Social Security). However, this is exactly the way next week’s debate has framed the conversation.
As we’ve said before,
“There is an important Social Security and Medicare conversation to be had. We must find long-term solvency solutions that also address our nation’s retirement and health security crisis. Obamacare went a long way toward improving the health care picture but more work remains to be done. Retirement USA reports the gap between what Americans need to retire and what they actually have is $7.7 trillion. In fact, about half of households age 55 and older have no retirement savings and a third of current workers aged 55 to 64 are likely to be poor or near-poor in retirement. Unfortunately, the median retirement account balance is a puny $3,000 for all working-age households and $12,000 for near-retirement households. Vanguard reports that 401K balances, for those who do have them, fell a median of 11% last year. Social Security remains the only stable retirement income for many Americans.”
While conservative fiscal hawks, including many Fox news commentators, see Social Security as solely a source of “investment-draining and economy-staling uncertainty,” the truth is, Social Security is a hugely stabilizing force for the economy. A new report from the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare Foundation shows that, in 2014 alone, Social Security delivered a $1.6 trillion fiscal boost nationwide as benefits were spent and cycled through the economy. Is there any chance that Social Security’s vital contribution to our economy will come up in next week’s debate? Nah.
There is a way to have the conversation that needs to be had on the future of Social Security and Medicare and it starts with one simple question:
“What are your specific plans to ensure Social Security and Medicare’s long-term solvency and improve benefits?”
The final Presidential debate is at 9 p.m. (Eastern Time) on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Each of the subjects will get a 15-minute time segment.
Posted on 9/23/2016 11:18 AM By NCPSSM
Presidential Candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump meet in their widely-anticipated and already heavily-analyzed first debate on Monday. NBC’s Lester Holt will moderate. We’ve already thrown in our two cents on why we believe Social Security and Medicare should be included in this debate (and it’s not because, as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce claims, benefits need to be cut to reduce the deficit).
Past experience has shown that not all debate questions are created equal. In fact, when a moderator addresses Social Security and Medicare in a question that’s actually about deficit reduction that should be a huge red flag for the millions of American families which depend on these programs. As we told Mr. Holt earlier this week:
“We urge you to avoid buying into the premise that “saving” Social Security and Medicare has anything to do with cutting the deficit. It doesn’t.”
What Americans really want to know is what these candidates plan to do to strengthen these programs not slash them – and please, give us details!
What do you want to hear from the candidates on Monday? We’ve created this Presidential Question survey to get your thoughts. Take just a couple of minutes and rank these 5 questions about Social Security and Medicare from 1-5 stars on importance to you. If you love a question it’s a 5, your next best option would be 4 and so on...all the way down to 1 star which is the question that doesn’t really thrill you.
We’ll take all of your answers and share them Monday before the debate.