Happy 50th Birthday Medicare and Medicaid!
Leading Senior Advocates, Economist Announce Major Grassroots Activity Celebrating Medicare/Medicaid’s 50th and Social Security’s 80th Birthdays,
Condemn Republican Plans to Undermine Programs’ Decades of Success
Washington DC (July 27, 2015) -- For 50 years, Medicare has provided millions of seniors with access to life-improving health benefits no matter their income or condition. For five decades, Medicaid has taken care of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, including low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and children. For nearly 80 years, Social Security has kept generations of seniors, survivors and disabled Americans out of poverty and allowed seniors to live out their Golden Years with dignity. Today leading safety-net advocates and economist Jared Bernstein held a press conference call to celebrate the irreplaceable foundations of American health and retirement security, to discuss how the Affordable Care Act has bolstered Medicare’s fiscal health while providing seniors new benefits, and announce major grassroots activity in the states echoing the calls for protecting these programs from deep benefit cuts and privatization schemes for generations to come.
Richard Fiesta, Executive Director, Alliance for Retired Americans: “Fourteen percent of Americans are over the age of 65.Thanks to Medicare, they have a high quality of life in retirement without sacrificing their standard of living or burdening their loved ones with medical bills. Medicare is a success story. It’s improved and strengthened families, the U.S. health care system and the lives of older Americans and the disabled. We’re encouraging our retiree members to speak out to make sure that it is preserved for future generations.”
ARA announced more than 120 events are happening over the next two weeks from Hawaii to Florida and Maine to California ranging from teach-ins and rallies, to birthday parties with music and policy discussions with members of Congress. For example, Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary will perform at an event in Cohoe, New York on July 30. Rallies are planned in Oakland and Los Angeles and at the State Capitol building in Hartford. Smaller events are planned at local gathering spots in Cincinnati and numerous senior centers in other states. In addition, members of the Alliance will join House and Senate leaders on Capitol Hill on July 29. A list of locations is available here and at www.medicare50th.org/events.
Brad Woodhouse, President of Americans United for Change: “Republicans in Congress and running for President are proposing to break the promise kept from one generation to the next on behalf of the big insurance companies and Wall Street friends that want to add Americans’ hard-earned benefits to their bottom line. The Republican led-Senate passed a budget plan that calls for $430 billion in cuts to Medicare but with no specifics as to where. The GOP House passed a budget plan reviving their extreme plan to end the guarantee of Medicare by replacing it with a private voucher system that doesn’t keep up with health costs and double seniors’ medical bills. House Republicans also undermined Social Security, passing an unprecedented rule that could slash Social Security disability payments by 20 percent by making it harder to allocate payroll tax revenues to replenish the Social Security Disability Trust Fund. Both chambers’ budgets call for devastating cuts to Medicaid that would add tens of millions of Americans to the ranks of the uninsured and force many vulnerable seniors and disabled Americans out of nursing homes.”
“The success of these programs is really undisputable,” added Woodhouse. “Every predication opponents have made about them were proven false, most recently that the Affordable Care Act would weaken Medicare, when it reality the health law enhanced the progran's prescription drug and preventative benefits and improved its solvency by more than a decade. To those who say Medicare really isn’t under real threat, just listen to what leading Republican President candidates are proposing. I take Jeb Bush at his word that he would “phase out” Medicare with private vouchers. I take Scott Walker at his word when he says cutting “entitlement programs” like Medicare and Social Security is “something that has to be done.” Marco Rubio sounded pretty serious when he claimed Medicare and Social Security had “weakened us as a people”, as laughable and backwards that thinking sounds. Rick Perry’s face was straight when he derided Medicare as unconstitutional and a “Ponzi scheme.” And Ben Carson – don’t laugh, he’ll be on the main GOP debate stage – makes no bones that he would eliminate Medicare and Medicaid altogether. One of these Republicans is likely going to be the nominee of the Republican party, and all of them in one way or another are in favor of ending Medicare. Some fact checkers have argued that Republicans’ perennial budget plan to replace Medicare with a private voucher system would not end Medicare as we know it, but it would. There’s no way establishing a system where private insurance companies cherry-pick the healthiest seniors wouldn’t put tremendous strain on traditional Medicare and leave it to wither on the vine. So there’s going to be a lot of activity in the coming weeks not only celebrating these programs around their anniversaries, but also challenging Republicans on their philosophy of getting rid of them. America’s seniors simply can’t afford any of the GOP proposals clipping away the safety net.”
Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM): “These programs are so successful and so engrained in our society that they are not just programs, they’re reflective of our American values. And we need to do everything we can to protect them and improve them.”
Jared Bernstein, Senior Fellow at Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “Medicare and Medicaid both have long track records of more effectively controlling costs than the private sector. So how is it that a program like Medicare controls costs more effectively than its counterpart services in the private sector? A big part is pooling. There is also it’s interaction with the Affordable Care Act, which has been really important for Medicare. In fact, the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund is now projected to remain solvent 13 years longer than before the ACA was enacted. That is a real accomplishment.”
Nancy Altman, co-director of Social Security Works: "Expanding Social Security is an obvious, efficient and powerful solution to the nation's looming retirement income crisis. It is a solution to the squeeze on middle class families. And, if its benefits are expanded and the wealthy required to pay their fair share, it can play an important role in establishing a fairer, more balanced distribution of the nation's income and wealth."