Medicare and Social Security – Do We Need a Crisis Approach or Common Sense Reforms?

Here’s what our congressman, Rep. Tom Reed, had to say in his latest E-Update about our nation’s fiscal problems.

“We have much work ahead of us in 2013 – with the need to cut spending and deal with our Medicare and Social Security crisis being among the most prominent. I still believe the answer lies in cutting spending and reforming Medicare and Social Security to save them for generations to come.”

Let’s take a moment to examine this statement.  Is there a Social Security crisis?  Studies show that the Social Security Trust Fund is solvent through 2033.  We have time to deal with the Social Security situation.  One thing is certain: it’s unseemly for politicians in Washington, with jobs that require no physical exertion, to advocate raising the retirement age across the board.  Workers with aging hips and knees or other ailments, who are in jobs that require standing, bending, or repetitive motion, deserve a chance for a respectable retirement at 65.

Medicare costs are a different matter.   As the baby boom generation ages, they are rising rapidly though less rapidly than health costs in the private sector, and will continue to do so unless reforms are made.

The problem is that Republicans have a history of opposing common sense solutions to rising Medicare costs.  They stand in the way of changing current law to allow Medicare to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies to lower drug costs.  Twenty-five percent of Medicare spending on individuals takes place in the last year of life, on average.  But when the Obama Administration attempted to include a plan to compensate for physicians providing voluntary counseling on end of life care in the Affordable Care Act, it was assailed by Republicans for creating “death panels.”  The proposal had to be deleted from the legislation.  During the recent presidential campaign, President Obama was criticized by Republicans for proposing $716 billion in Medicare cost savings, even though the “Ryan Budget” included the same savings.

There is still time to deal with Medicare, but doing so will require a change in Republican attitudes – or a change in the composition of Congress.  Medicare costs will surely be a crisis one day if the Republican-controlled House continues its practice of delaying essential legislation until the very last possible moment.

-Ray Copson

About pystew

Retired Teacher, political science geek, village trustee. I lean a little left, but like a good political discussion. My blog, the New NY 23rd (http://newny23rd) is about discussing the issues facing the people of our new congressional district. Let's hear all sides of the issues, not just what the candidates want us to hear.
This entry was posted in Congress, Economics, Health Care and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Medicare and Social Security – Do We Need a Crisis Approach or Common Sense Reforms?

  1. Anne says:

    Alternet ran the first part of an excellent article that addresses this issue at least tangentially–the obscene cost of medical care in this country, all of which is geared toward the all-important corporate profit: http://www.alternet.org/economy/deadly-secret-about-fiscal-cliff-charade

    Like

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