Preserving Medicare requires a bipartisan effort
The Biden administration finally released the 2022 fiduciary reports for Social Security and Medicare. These annual reports to Congress, which detail the fiscal status of Social Security old-age and disability insurance programs and Medicare Parts A, B, and D, highlighted that trust funds for Social Security retirees and Medicare Part A are running out of money. While this year’s reports pushed back the dates of insolvency for the Medicare Hospital Fund and the Social Security Retirement Fund in 2028 and 2035, respectively, we shouldn’t use an additional year or two of solvency. as an excuse to delay the action. Medicare and Social Security are trillion-dollar complex programs that require bipartisan action to ensure they continue to provide benefits to the elderly in the United States.
There are approximately 69.1 million Social Security beneficiaries in the United States and approximately 64.4 million enrolled in Medicare. These Americans, many of us our most vulnerable neighbors, trust these programs, and it is important that we do our best to ensure that the federal government keeps its promise to deliver these benefits.
The federal government spends money in two ways: mandatory spending occurs automatically and discretionary spending must be approved by Congress and the president, which requires a debate about how much and where money is spent by government agencies. Social Security and Medicare are both mandatory programs, meaning those programs can spend your trust funds up to zero. Currently, some Social Security and Medicare programs are well on their way to doing so. Failure to address each program in a bipartisan manner will have real consequences for seniors.
If Congress does not act before the Social Security Trust Fund reaches zero, that is, the Treasury will only have to depend on payroll taxes to pay benefits, seniors will see that their benefits are automatically reduced almost 25 percent. For a single retiree who receives a monthly check of $ 1,600, the national average, a 25 percent cut would reduce his payment to $ 1,200. For many who depend solely on Social Security, this reduction in benefits would drag them dangerously close to the poverty line, even before inflation is taken into account. Although benefits paid by Social Security are based on a beneficiary’s vital income, both programs pay the current payroll tax benefits of current workers, that is, a 50-year-old person who retires at the age of 67. years in 2037 will have paid his full share of the payroll taxes his entire career, but will only receive partial benefits from day one.
While initially less tangible, allowing the Medicare Part A trust fund to run out of money could also jeopardize seniors ’access to care by reducing payments to hospitals. These reduced payments are likely to occur in one of two ways: o Medicare would only pay the percentage of each bill that had enough money to fund it, forcing providers and hospitals to cancel the rest, or it would only pay the bills as funds would be available. which means a lot of unpaid bills would continue to pile up for Medicare, further jeopardizing the program. Hospitals and doctors are not required to see Medicare patients, and many would be forced to stop accepting patients with health plans who do not pay their bills.
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Unfortunately, Democrats and the Biden administration are unwilling to take the imminent threat to the elderly seriously. The Biden administration continues to ignore a statutory requirement for the president to introduce Medicare reform legislation to Congress when more than 45 percent of Medicare hospital spending is expected to come from general income, not from its trust fund, in seven years. At a recent hearing of the Roads and Media Committee, I asked the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, if the Biden administration had planned to meet this requirement, he said no.
We need to address Social Security and Medicare solvency in a bipartisan way. Both programs were created with bipartisan support, and no serious reform of the program has been enacted without both parties working together. No one talks about eliminating Social Security or Medicare. It is necessary, however, to come to the table with serious solutions to ensure that the federal government maintains its commitment to current and future beneficiaries. If we put partisanship aside and do the hard work now, we have options.