Retirees Visit More than 120 Members of Congress with Retirement Security Message
TPP, Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicare Cuts also discussed
Washington, DC - Members of the Alliance for Retired Americans are expressing their views at more than 120 meetings with members of Congress and staff this week as elected officials returned to their districts during the Presidents Day recess.
“Under the new 114th Congress, retirees issues are once again under attack from many directions including proposed trade agreements, Social Security and Medicare,” said Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Social Security and Medicare belong to the people who have worked their entire lives to contribute and sustain the programs. Social Security is not responsible for the federal deficit and cutting it will not resolve America’s budgetary problems.”
The retirees are deeply concerned about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) proposal, also known as “fast track.” TPP has provisions that would impact prescription drug pricing, including patent extensions for biologics and medical devices. In addition, TPP could interfere with the government’s ability to list and price prescription drugs and would allow pharmaceutical companies to challenge drug prices in public programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans Administration. The Alliance is urging members to oppose the TPA, which is likely to be voted on by the Senate first.
Also concerning Alliance members are new rules for governing passed by the House Republicans, which included a provision prohibiting members from offering proposals to reallocate funds to the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) fund. Without reallocation – which has been done 11 times in the past under both Republican and Democratic administrations - the SSDI program will become insolvent in 2016 and disabled beneficiaries will see a 20% cut in their benefits. Legislation is also expected to create a Social Security Commission, which would recommend cuts to the program that provides the majority of retirement income to 65% of seniors. Retirees are responding that Social Security should not be discussed in the context of the deficit. It is a self-funded program that Congress should strengthen and expand.
This year is the 50th Anniversary of the Medicare program, and retirees are also reminding members of Congress of the continued importance of the program. National health expenditures grew at an annual rate of 3.7% in 2012, marking the fourth consecutive year of low growth. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the slowdown in the growth of Medicare spending will likely continue for the next 25 years.
Still, many in Congress continue to call for Medicare benefit cuts. These include turning Medicare into a voucher program, raising the age of eligibility, means testing benefits, requiring home health co-pays, limiting Medigap coverage and restructuring or redesigning Medicare. Unfortunately, these Medicare cuts would do nothing to reduce the cost of health care, but instead, shift costs on to beneficiaries.