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Letter Opposing Senate Budget Amendment

October 26, 2017

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C.   20515

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, I urge you to vote against the Senate amendment to H. Con. Res. 71, the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Resolution, which would cause misery for millions of Americans.

The Senate-passed budget resolution would allow the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees to slash programs critical to older Americans and people with disabilities – all to pay for massive tax cuts for the very wealthy and profitable corporations.  What is more, under the Senate amendment, $1.5 trillion in tax cuts would not have to be offset.  By increasing the federal budget deficit by at least $1.5 trillion, this measure would leave Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid vulnerable to benefit cuts to make up the difference.

The Senate-passed budget would cut Medicare by nearly $500 billion and cut Medicaid and subsidies that make coverage affordable through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces by $1.3 trillion.

Medicare beneficiaries cannot afford to pay more for less coverage – particularly when half of them have incomes of less than $26,200 a year and spend 25 percent of their Social Security check to pay for Medicare Parts B and D out-of-pocket costs for premiums and cost-sharing amounts.

Middle-class Americans often rely on Medicaid for long-term services and supports when they exhaust their savings.  Nearly two-thirds of all nursing home residents’ care is financed in part by Medicaid.  In addition, Medicaid provides home and community-based services that allow seniors to stay in their homes.  There is no way to cut Medicaid by a trillion dollars without limiting seniors access to long-term care services.

A provision in the Senate amendment repeals the ACA, including subsidies that make health insurance more affordable, which would leave millions of Americans uninsured and would be particularly harmful to older and disabled Americans.  Allowing for repeal of the ACA in the Senate budget sends the wrong message when progress has been made by Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray on legislation to strengthen the individual health insurance market.

In addition, we are concerned about a plan in the budget resolution to cut income security programs – including Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – by $653 billion over ten years.  SSI provides vital and much needed economic security for 8.4 million low-income seniors and people with disabilities, including children with marked and severe functional limitations.  Instead of cutting SSI, Congress should enact H.R. 3307, the “Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act of 2017,” which would keep the program up-to-date for our nation’s most vulnerable Americans who depend on SSI to meet their basic needs.

The National Committee opposes the budget’s call to cut non-defense discretionary programs by $800 billion over the next ten years.  This reduction would be in addition to the sequester spending caps required by the Budget Control Act of 2011.  Under the Senate amendment, 2027 funding for non-defense discretionary programs subject to those caps would be 18 percent below 2017 levels and fully 29 percent below 2010 levels, adjusting only for inflation.  These cuts would undermine programs and agencies that provide crucial services to seniors and people with disabilities, including the Social Security Administration, Older Americans Act programs, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer research at the National Institutes of Health, Low Income Home Energy Assistance and housing assistance for low-income elderly persons – just to name a few.

The National Committee urges all Representatives to oppose this “Robin Hood-in-Reverse” budget and instead work together to protect the retirement and health security commitments made to generations of Americans.

Sincerely,


Max Richtman
President and CEO



   

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