Medicare and Social Security

Beware, anyone who is old or disabled or might ever get old or disabled. If Frank Guinta gets back to Congress,  he will once again vote to weaken Medicare and reduce benefits.

Frank Guinta and Paul Ryan’s budget, the so-called Path to Prosperity, privatizes Medicare and turns it into a voucher program that would hurt the old, the future old, and the disabled. As AARP said about it: “Chairman Ryan’s proposed budget fails to address the high costs of health care and instead shifts costs onto seniors and future retirees…Removing the Medicare guarantee of affordable health coverage for older Americans by implementing a premium support system and asking seniors and future retirees to pay more is not the right direction.”

Why would our Republican members of Congress do this to the old and the vulnerable?  They claim that it will save seniors money and allow them to choose. However, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says it will actually cost seniors more. How much more? The CBO says that it would double the cost of insurance for seniors. And that is just for starters. How in the world is someone who is 89 and ill supposed to “shop around” for a good insurance deal, and what for-profit company would ever choose to insure her?  Under Medicare, our parents and grandparents already get to choose. They choose their doctors, their hospital, and their hospice. Frank Guinta and Republicans are deliberately misleading people about this.

Republicans also claim that their plan will somehow drive down costs because they claim that Medicare issues blank checks and does not try to control costs. That also is false. Medicare operating costs run between 3-7% for overhead, while private insurance companies have been passing their overhead costs of up to 37% to their customers.   As a USA Today Editorial stated about Medicare, “In fact, it delivers coverage for lower costs. Doing away with the most efficient system hardly seems the best way…” Medicare also has set reimbursement rates for hospitals and providers, which helps save money.  Still, they must do better with our money, so I am pleased that the new health care law gets tougher on waste, fraud, and inefficiency. Improving a great system is better than destroying it, but Republican Members of Congress voted to destroy Medicare.

Paul Ryan and Frank Guinta claim this does not hurt seniors or those who are 55 and over. This, too, is false. Their plan would slash Medicaid, even though the elderly who cannot afford to pay for nursing home care use Medicaid. As a matter of fact, 25% of Medicaid dollars are spent on seniors, and 42% is spent on the disabled. That equals 67% of the Medicaid budget! This opens up another problem for middle-class Americans. If the Federal Government is not going to help pay for the nursing home, where will the money come from?  Most hardworking middle class families will not be able to pay for their parents and pay for their children’s educations. The squeeze will just be too much, so this Medicare and Medicaid slashing will hurt all ages.

Here is the ugliest part of all. This budget plan Frank Guinta helped write as a member of the House Budget Committee from 2011-2013 hurts the old and the disabled and the middle class, and he admitted it by saying there has to be “shared sacrifice.” However, the money that he would “save” would not be used to pay down the deficit. No, it would be used to cut taxes for the very rich. That’s right—the very rich would see their taxes reduced while you or your loved one would see essential services reduced.

Is this what Americans really want? Apparently, it is not. Across the country, good people of all parties—Republicans, Democrats, and Independents—have told their members to leave Medicare and other essential programs alone, that they want to support programs that help their neighbors and communities, that they care about each other. House Republicans miscalculated when they figured that most people only care about themselves, so seniors would not speak up for others. Turns out they were wrong.

Just as I have always believed, we are a great nation full of great people who help each other. It is the American way. So is Medicare. Leave it alone, House Republicans. Find the money to pay down the debt by voting against tax loopholes, taxpayer subsidies for oil companies and other huge conglomerates, by cutting waste, and by campaign finance reform, which will clean up abuse. But leave Medicare alone.


Don’t Scrap Our Social Security


Even though Frank Guinta claims he wants to preserve Social Security, he actually hopes his kids don’t know what it is. That’s what he actually said.

While people across New Hampshire rely on this vital program that has provided economic support and dignity to seniors, people with disabilities, and children of deceased workers for decades, Frank Guinta has a plan to change and jeopardize the program.

Here are some facts about Social Security. First, more than 90% of Americans 65 and over receive Social Security. More than 6 million children receive benefits due to a parent's death or disability, and a deceased worker's spouse collects if there are children under the age of 18.  Millions rely on it to survive. While almost half of all seniors would be poor without it, women would be hurt even more than men, because women earn lower wages and generally live longer than men. More than half of all elderly women would live in poverty.

This would have an enormous economic impact on middle class families with aging parents. Already struggling adult children would have to care for themselves, their kids, and their parents.  Without Social Security, families would have to make devastating decisions about living arrangements, health care, education, transportation, etc, as they tried to divide resources between the young and the old. Also, reducing future benefits or privatizing Social Security would not be a "shared sacrifice.” As former White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers  wrote in Vanity Fair, "The top 1% of Americans now take home nearly a quarter of all income and control more than 40% of the country's wealth—roughly the same as the bottom 90%." Not exactly shared sacrifice. Therefore, we must stop Paul Ryan and Frank Guinta from dismantling this program. 

Social Security will have problems paying at today's rate around 2033, but it can be fixed if the Congress would do what Reagan did in 1983—fix it. First, raise the cap. Right now, people who earn under $117,000 pay tax on every single dollar they earn. People who earn over that do not pay on every dollar, just the first $118,500. This amounts to a hidden tax cut as their income rises. This is not fair.

As President Roosevelt said about Social Security in 1941, “We put those pay roll contributions there so as to give the contributors a legal, moral, and political right to collect their pensions and their unemployment benefits. With those taxes in there, no damn politician can ever scrap my social security program.”  We need to tell our leaders again--don't scrap our social security program!


MYTH VS FACT Medicare and the Affordable Care Act


MYTH: The Affordable Care Act cut $716 billion from Medicare.

FACT: This is absolutely false and has been repeatedly debunked by independent sources.

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD: “In reality, the $716 billion is not a ‘cut’ in benefits but rather the savings in costs that the Congressional Budget Office projects over the next decade from wholly reasonable provisions in the reform law.”  [Editorial, New York Times, 8/18/12]

 ABC NEWS FACT CHECK: “Medicare spending…will be reduced by getting rid of fraud and ending overpayments to private insurance companies. It sends a message to those insurance companies: Operate more efficiently.”  [ABC News, 6/28/12]


MYTH: Republicans like Paul Ryan are fighting against the $716 billion cut to Medicare

FACT: Paul Ryan’s own budget contains the so-called “cuts” to Medicare.

POLITIFACT: “Does Ryan’s budget include those same reductions in Medicare spending? The short answer is yes.” [Politifact, 9/6/13]

POLITIFACT: “We should note that the Republican plan championed by GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan also trims Medicare spending by almost exactly the same amount.” [Politifact, 10/17/12]


MYTH: AARP opposed the Affordable Care Act because it cuts Medicare.

FACT: AARP supported the Affordable Care Act because it cracked down on waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare, saves seniors money by closing the prescription drug donut hole, and extends the life of the Medicare Trust Fund.

AARP: “The legislative package [the Affordable Care Act] cracks down on insurance company abuses and protects and strengthens guaranteed benefits in Medicare, the program millions of our members depend on and in which millions more will soon enroll. … And it improves efforts to crack down on fraud and waste in Medicare, strengthening the program for today’s seniors and future generations.” [AARP, 3/10/12]

AARP: “It closes the dreaded Medicare Part D ‘doughnut hole,’ a gap in prescription drug coverage that is life-threatening for many.” [AARP, 3/10/12]

“The chief of Medicare credited Obamacare for continuing to help extend the life of Medicare after a new trustees' report said it will be solvent for two years longer than expected. The trustees' report found that Medicare's trust fund will remain fully solvent until 2026; last year's projection was 2024. The two years comes on top of eight more years of initially projected solvency for Medicare due to the Affordable Care Act.” [Talking Points Memo, 4/31/13]







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