The debate over Medicare expansion has hurled a bad idea back into the public square: means-testing seniors’ health care benefits. This is something seniors’ advocates have long opposed, because it would hurt beneficiaries and undermine support for the Medicare program itself. Means-testing benefits should have no role in the expansion of Medicare to include dental, vision, and hearing coverage — which are part of President Biden’s Build Back Better Plan working its way through Congress.
The 5.9% Social Security COLA for 2022 is welcome news for seniors, who need this increase to confront ever-rising living costs. However, the fact that this is the highest increase since 1982 does not speak well for Social Security’s ability to keep pace with those expenses. The average COLA for the past ten years was only 1.65%. In three of the past 12 years the COLA was zero. Were it partly not for COVID-related inflation, the COLA for 2022 likely would have been more in line with the paltry increases of decades past.
If Congress does not act to raise the debt limit soon, the country will be plunged into a financial crisis — and the government will have massive difficulty paying its bills, including sending Social Security checks to some 65 million beneficiaries. This would be an unconscionable outcome – not only for the country, but for the retirees, people with disabilities, and their families, who depend on Social Security to make ends meet each and every month. I have just sent a letter to all 100 Senators imploring them to avoid this catastrophe.
We and other seniors' advocates cheered President Biden's Build Back Better plan, which called for adding dental, vision, and hearing coverage to Medicare. That plan is having a difficult birth in Congress, as moderate and Progressive Democrats wrangle over the plan's size and scope.
There are many ways you can help preserve the legacy of Social Security and Medicare to ensure a decent quality of life for Americans. Petition drives, rallies and press events, telephone campaigns and community forums are some of the frequent activities we employ to help influence the policy agendas of Congress and the White House.