For the past 78 years, Social Security has lifted millions of seniors out of poverty and provided many more with the opportunity to live out their golden years with dignity and independence.
And for the past 48 years, Medicare has provided seniors with quality and dependable health care.

Medicare and Social Security are two of the most solemn promises our nation has made to our seniors, and that is why the two of us are fighting to protect these programs so they are strong not only for current seniors, but for future generations.

We recently had the opportunity to hold a telephone town hall with constituents across Illinois’ 17th District to have an informative conversation on the importance of protecting Medicare and Social Security.

Here are some of the highlights of what was discussed:

We both oppose a proposal to switch to a so-called “chained CPI” system to replace the existing method of calculating annual cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security. Over time, the chained CPI could significantly reduce benefits for seniors and make it more difficult for those living on Social Security to make ends meet. According to a new report released by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, local businesses could suffer as seniors have less money to spend and the trickle-down effect for our local economy means a greater potential for job losses.
We also strongly oppose the “Ryan Budget,” the proposal put forth by Congressman Paul Ryan that would end traditional Medicare by turning the program into a voucher system and making it harder for seniors to choose their own doctor.

According to estimates, under the Ryan Budget, seniors would end up paying $6,400 extra in out-of-pocket health care costs each year.

The Ryan Budget would also reopen the Medicare prescription drug doughnut hole, which would force many seniors to pay more for their life-saving medicines.

This approach is unacceptable and reflects the wrong set of priorities.

We need to work together to reduce the deficit in a balanced way, not on the backs of seniors and working families.

There are common sense steps we can take to strengthen Medicare and Social Security, such as implementing electronic medical records, improving coordination of health care services, and continuing efforts to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse.

Our seniors have worked hard their entire lives, played by the rules and deserve the peace and security of knowing the promises we’ve made to them will also be there for their children and grandchildren.

The questions, comments, feedback and personal stories we heard on the call will be invaluable for us as we continue to work hard each day for the seniors of our nation.

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos represents Illinois’ 17th Congressional District. She lives in East Moline with her husband, Gerry. They have three grown sons.

Max Richtman is the president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, a national membership organization dedicated to protecting Social Security and Medicare benefits for all with 84,000 members and supporters in Illinois and more than 6,000 in the 17th Congressional District.

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