December 14, 2015
As Congressional budget negotiators continue their work on an end-of-year spending bill, an effort to fund the vitally important World Trade Center Health Program which provides health care benefits and compensation for America’s 9-11 first responders, is being held hostage by Congressional leaders who want billions in cuts from Medicare and Medicaid to pay for it.
In a letter to Congress, the National Committee expressed its full support for funding the World Trade Center Health Program but its opposition to using vital programs like Medicare and Medicaid as an ATM to fund non-related programs:
“The National Committee supports it’s (the 9-11 Fund) reauthorization. We object, however, to cuts to Medicare and Medicaid to pay for unrelated programs. Specifically, we object to proposals put forward by House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton to offset the costs of reauthorization of the World Trade Center Health Program by expanding means testing of Medicare premiums.
Additional means testing would undermine the social insurance nature of Medicare. It is important to note that wealthy individuals already pay more than other beneficiaries. We are concerned that the trend toward ever more means testing may cause higher earners to opt out of Medicare altogether. The departure of higher-income beneficiaries, who tend to be younger and healthier, would increase overall costs and could erode public support for the program.
The National Committee further objects to the $1.9 billion this provision is estimated to save being directed away from the Medicare program. Savings from changes in Medicare and Medicaid policy should be used to improve these programs that are so vital to seniors – not for other purposes.”…NCPSSM Letter to Congress, December 11, 2015
This year alone, there have been multiple attempts by Congress to use Social Security and/or Medicare as an ATM to pay for completely unrelated – yet very important – national priorities. Already, Medicare sequester cuts have been extended into 2025. Then Medicare was cut again to help pay for the Trade bill. There was also a failed attempt this summer to fund the highway bill with Social Security cuts. Now, the absolutely vital need to provide for 9-11 first responders is being held-up because GOP Congressional leaders hope to use that leverage to get billions of dollars in cuts from Medicare and Medicaid. Incredibly, GOP negotiators are simultaneously pushing for $800 billion in tax breaks without ANY pay-fors.
The National Committee, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization acts in the interests of its membership through advocacy, education, services, grassroots efforts and the leadership of the Board of Directors and professional staff. The work of the National Committee is directed toward developing better-informed citizens and voters.
Media Inquiries to:
Pamela Causey 202-216-8378/202-236-2123
Kim Wright 202-216-8414 www.ncpssm.org