photo by Greg Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

President Biden’s $6 trillion budget proposal for 2022 demonstrates a bold commitment to America’s seniors – from improved customer service for Social Security beneficiaries to prescription drug pricing reform to expanded Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS).  This White House spending plan is a welcome change after four years of Trump budgets that sought to slash Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security by hundreds of billions of dollars.

“President Biden’s 2020 budget bolsters America’s seniors in major ways. With 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 every day – and the number of seniors projected to double by 2050 – it’s clear that the President understands the need to safeguard the older Americans he calls ‘pillars of every community,’ now and into the future.” – Max Richtman, NCPSSM President and CEO, 6/1/21

The President proposes a $1.3 billion (or 9.7%) funding increase for the Social Security Administration, which saw deep budget cuts over the past decade – and struggled to provide adequate customer service before and during the pandemic. Beneficiaries have endured shuttered field offices, countless hours on hold for assistance on SSA’s toll-free number, and painfully long delays awaiting Social Security Disability Insurance hearings.  Some of these issues have slightly improved, but the new infusion of funds that President Biden requests could significantly boost customer service.

The President’s budget proposal also urges Congress to allow Medicare to negotiate prices for certain high-cost, life-saving drugs that many seniors currently cannot afford.  The President also calls for requiring manufacturers to pay rebates when drug prices rise faster than inflation. In the continued absence of action to regulate costs, Big Pharma hiked the prices of more than 800 drugs this year by an average of 4.6%. Meanwhile, 36% of Americans in a 2021 survey said they are forgoing their prescription medications in order to pay for other living essentials.

President Biden’s prescription drug reform proposals could not only save seniors from soaring drug prices, the savings from these reforms could be used to add much-needed dental, vision, and hearing coverage to Medicare.  Today, traditional Medicare does not cover even routine care like dental checkups or hearing aids.

The White House budget also includes more than $400 billion in new spending over ten years to expand HCBS for seniors who prefer to receive skilled care in the comfort of their homes and communities, even more so after the devastation COVID wrought on nursing homes.

The release of the President’s budget allows Congress to begin negotiating funding levels and spending bills.  President Biden proposes to pay for his ambitious agenda by increasing taxes on corporations and high earners, who received a windfall from the Trump/GOP tax cuts of 2017.