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The Latest News on Social Security and Medicare

I am Max Richtman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and I appreciate the opportunity to submit this statement for the record.  With millions of members and supporters across America, the National Committee is a grassroots advocacy and education organization dedicated to preserving and strengthening safety net programs, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  These programs are the foundation of financial and health security for older Americans, but improvements are needed to ensure that beneficiaries receive the care they need and that they are protected from unwarranted out-of-pocket costs.


The HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act would provide Medicare coverage of a care-management planning session to help people who are newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and their family members.  The session would improve outcomes for individuals and caregivers by providing them with information about available treatments and support services, which can improve the quality of life both for the Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers.  S. 857 also would ensure that a dementia diagnosis and care plan is included in an individual’s medical record so all treating physicians could better manage their care.  


The Senate ‘Doc Fix’ vote has traded one bad policy for another...shifting the costs of Congress’ failed Medicare payment formula for physicians to seniors who can least afford to foot that bill.  Contrary to claims by supporters, on both sides of the aisle, this ‘doc fix’ will hit millions of seniors who aren’t ‘wealthy’ by any stretch of the imagination. 


New Jersey Governor Chris Christie promised an important speech today on the future of the nation’s most successful retirement and health security programs – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  Not surprisingly, his comments were a recitation and doubling-down on the same GOP claims that our nation can’t afford to honor its commitment to America’s workers and future retirees. Apparently, slashing pensions in New Jersey to preserve his no tax pledge isn’t enough.  Now he hopes to do the same nationwide: 


It's been just over a year since the Boost Social Security Now campaign was launched to help build a national movement to strengthen Social Security and provide beneficiaries a much needed raise in benefits. After decades of protecting and defending the program from harmful, even dangerous policy proposals that could lead to benefit cuts and a weakening of the program's finances, advocates have been encouraged to see some of our Congressional leaders wrestle control of the national discourse on Social Security away from those who would prefer to see it privatized, dismantled or turned into a welfare program. 


The House and Senate Budget Resolutions for Fiscal Year 2016 would make cuts to the Medicare and Medicaid programs and repeal the Affordable Care Act, actions which would jeopardize health care for millions of Americans.  Moreover, the House of Representatives would obstruct commonsense proposals that would strengthen the finances of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program.


On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, I am writing to endorse your bill, S. 862, the Paycheck Fairness Act.  This legislation aims to prevent wage discrimination from happening in the first place and help women and their families secure the paychecks they have earned.

Washington is a place where policy debates too often prioritize dollars spent over people benefited. Congressional fixation on austerity has often made our nation penny-wise and pound-foolish at a time when well-placed investments would benefit not only our citizenry but also the federal budget bottom line. This is especially true when you look at the case of insufficient funding for Alzheimer’s research and the rapidly growing impact this disease has on federal programs like Medicare, the nation’s largest health insurer, which handles more than 1 billion claims per year for 52 million beneficiaries; and Medicaid, the nation’s primary payer for long-term care services and supports.

U.S. Representative John Larson (D-CT) and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal will be joined by Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare to discuss the Social Security 2100 Act on Monday March 30, 2015 in West Hartford.  

Contrary to claims by supporters, on both sides of the aisle, this ‘doc fix’ does not impact only ‘wealthy seniors’. Millions of beneficiaries who depend on a Medigap plan to help pay their health care bills – no matter their income -- will be hit with higher costs. Given that 46% of all Medigap policy holders had incomes of $30,000 or less, it’s clear this deal impacts far more than the wealthy, as the bill’s proponents have claimed.  What’s more, Medicare beneficiaries will be forced to contribute nearly $60 billion in premiums over the next decade to replace the SGR.
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