Social Security & Medicare: So Much More than Numbers on a Spreadsheet

2017-07-10T16:18:53+00:00February 14th, 2013|Aging Issues, Budget, entitlement reform, healthcare, Medicare, Retirement, Social Security|

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare is commemorating Black History Month with blog posts from a number of the nation’s leading policy analysts, lawmakers, and community leaders.  We’ll examine the importance of programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to the African American community while also paying tribute to generations of African Americans who have struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society. 

Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford  comes to  the  113th Congress as a strong advocate for Social Security and Medicare based on his own personal experience with the vital role these programs play in the lives of American families.  

 

Rep. Steven Horsford  – (D) Nevada’s 4th District

Medicare and Social Security are sometimes referred to as “entitlements.” In reality, they are promises. They are social insurance programs that prevent poverty in our golden years and they help our parents and grandparents live the comfortable and dignified retirement they deserve. These programs keep America’s promise to our seniors and protect the health of the most vulnerable.

The debate over funding for our social insurance programs can sometimes get lost in spreadsheets and numbers. Ultimately, however, these programs are about people. I know this all too well.

When I was a young boy, my grandmother suffered a stroke and fell into a coma. When she awoke, half of her body was paralyzed, and from there on out she spent the final 27 years of her life moving from nursing home to nursing home, depending on where beds and resources were available.  At a young age, I had no idea that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid were a crucial part of my grandmother’s life support.  But they were.

I visited her every week.  Those trips to her bedside are still with me today, and they are a constant reminder that when we cut the budget, we are not just talking about numbers.  We are talking about people. We are talking about our families and the ones we love. We are talking about my grandmother.

So, we will get our debt under control, but we will not cut our way to prosperity, and we will not neglect our most vulnerable citizens in the process.  We will not take a hatchet to our safety net.  It’s just not right, especially while corporations continue to receive trillions of dollars in special tax breaks. 

Members of my district are also uniquely affected by proposals to defund Medicare and Social Security.  Hispanics make up 27% of the population in Nevada’s 4th Congressional District, and African-Americans make up 16%. Devastating cuts to social insurance programs would be amplified for many of my constituents. Two-thirds of African-Americans and Hispanics have incomes below $22,500 post-retirement, and many rely solely on Medicare to receive health services. How can we say that these constituents, who live with so little and receive the bare minimum in benefits, are part of a “spending problem?”

Medicare and Social Security serve as important and necessary programs to keep seniors healthy.  We cannot go back on a promise for safe retirement and health benefits. Our seniors have built their future around the existence of programs they have paid into for years. For my grandmother and my constituents, I vow to fight to protect these programs.

 

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