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Protect Social Security and Medicare During Budget Debates

Don't shift the costs to cash-strapped seniors

For nearly 50 years, AARP has been committed to protecting Medicare and Social Security benefits for the millions of Americans who have paid into these programs.

That work is especially critical today as the discussion on how to reduce the federal budget deficit continues to occupy center stage in Washington.

While the fiscal cliff agreement reached on New Year's Day includes important retirement security provisions, we still need lasting solutions to the long-term challenges facing Social Security and Medicare. But we cannot allow our elected leaders to shift the cost of balancing the budget onto the backs of resource-strapped seniors.

Learn more about what AARP has been doing to make sure your voice is heard

The fiscal cliff deal included important provisions for older Americans and their families:

  • The agreement delays for another year a drastic pay cut for Medicare doctors. (This is the so-called doc fix.)

  • Benefits for the long-term unemployed have been extended.

  • The "tax holiday," which reduced by 2 percent the share that working Americans pay into Social Security, ended. This will help restore the program's dedicated funding stream.

  • The deal also protects funding for key Medicaid programs, which will help millions who rely on them for their health and long-term care.

  • Sadly, the agreement repealed the Community Living Assistance Services and Support (CLASS) Act, a voluntary long-term care insurance system. But Congress set up a Commission on Long Term Care, which will explore ways to support family caregivers and to help people stay in their homes and communities.

Long-term solutions, not quick fixes

As the budget discussions continue over the next few months, AARP remains deeply concerned about proposals to cut Social Security and Medicare. Instead of implementing harmful cuts, Washington should seek responsible solutions that address the long-term concerns facing these programs — such as reducing health care costs for everyone.

And while the doc fix offers a temporary patch, AARP urges Congress and the president to find a permanent and fiscally responsible way to provide fair pay to Medicare doctors.

On behalf of our 37 million members and all Americans who have earned their Social Security and Medicare benefits, AARP will continue working to foster an open, thoughtful public conversation about how best to strengthen these programs for today's older people and for future generations.

Strengthening Social Security

Americans have been paying into Social Security for more than 75 years and collecting these earned benefits when they retire. Currently, Social Security has enough money in its coffers to pay 100 percent of the promised benefits for the next 20 years. After that, there are sufficient funds to cover 75 percent of promised benefits. However, with gradual and modest adjustments, we can ensure that future generations will receive the benefits they've worked for.

Our Social Security values

AARP has a long history of supporting proposals to strengthen Social Security and opposing those that undermine the retirement security of today's older people and future generations. Throughout the debate in Washington over how to strengthen Social Security, AARP will fight to ensure that any final plan is based on these critical values:

  • Social Security should continue to guarantee that Americans who work and pay into the system receive benefits based on what they earn and contribute.

  • Social Security benefits should keep up with inflation and last for as long as an individual lives.

  • Social Security needs to stay on stable financial ground, but any adjustments should be implemented gradually so people can plan for their future. Any changes should never impact people in or near retirement.

  • We must protect benefits for people who count on them most, including surviving spouses and families, low-wage workers and individuals who become disabled and can no longer work.

  • Social Security should be kept separate from the rest of the federal budget.

Strengthening Medicare

Americans have been paying into Medicare with the promise of guaranteed health coverage when they retire. But the program faces serious long-term financial challenges, especially with rising health costs and an aging population. Unless something is done, Medicare will face a serious shortfall by 2024.

Medicare needs to be put on stable ground for the future, but any effort to strengthen it must address the rising costs of health care in general. By making our health care system more efficient, and by eliminating fraud, waste and abuse, we can help ensure that future generations will have access to affordable and quality health care.

Our Medicare values

AARP has a long history of supporting plans to strengthen Medicare and opposing those that undermine the health security of older people. As policymakers debate how to strengthen Medicare, AARP will fight to ensure that any final plan is based on these critical values:

  • Medicare should be strengthened and improved so both current and future generations can count on having access to high-quality, affordable coverage.

  • Medicare should continue to guarantee specific benefits that are affordable and meet a person's health care needs.

  • Medicare should offer choices that ensure access to high-quality health care.

  • Medicare should improve the quality, safety and efficiency of care by emphasizing value and cracking down on fraud, waste and abuse.

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