The latest projections on the stability of Medicare and Social Security should give pause to those in Congress who want to undercut these two federal programs, which allow people who have worked hard all their lives to retire with dignity and good health.
The trustees of Medicare and Social Security say in the reports they released Thursday that both programs are in good shape for the near term.
Medicare has enough money to cover promised hospital-coverage benefits until 2029 – one year later than estimated last year. Social Security trustees say that program will be OK until 2034, but will face shortfalls after that year if Congress does nothing to shore it up.
Medicare and Social Security are working as planned, helping an increasingly aging population retire with dignity. Eventually the current surpluses will run out but the benefits don’t need to be cut because there are several fixes.
Right-wing extremists and many corporate CEOs have long pushed to privatize Social Security and cut Medicare. For AFSCME, and members of Congress who support working families, the latest trustee reports present an opportunity to remind everyone that these federal programs will work well into the future if Congress makes relatively modest changes to ensure long-term stability.
For over 80 years, Social Security has reliably kept millions of senior citizens, persons with disabilities and children out of poverty. Social Security is funded through payroll contributions on employers, employees and self-employed individuals. But earnings only up to $127,200 are subject to the Social Security payroll tax.
Scrapping that cap on earnings – and levying the Social Security tax on investment income – will ensure that the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share to shore up the program. It’s unfair to ask hard-working people of modest means to carry the full weight of preserving Social Security for generations to come.
Increasing Medicare’s solvency means strengthening the Affordable Care Act (ACA), not killing it as the congressional majority proposes.
Repealing and replacing the ACA will make it a lot harder for older Americans to get comprehensive, affordable coverage before they enroll in Medicare at age 65. That would put their health at greater risk and undermine Medicare “due to the unmet health care needs of those who would be without coverage in the years leading up to Medicare eligibility,” AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders said in a statement.
The recent trustees’ reports show that Medicare and Social Security “are stable and solvent, with the ability to continue providing older Americans and people with disabilities with the benefits they need,” Saunders said. “When it comes to Social Security and Medicare, Congress should learn from the ethos of dedicated health care professionals across the country: First, do no harm.”