Here's what you have told us: People depend on Medicare and Social Security for health and financial security. They want these programs to remain strong for themselves and especially for their kids and grandkids. They've raised their voices, but Washington isn't listening.
Americans are tired of hearing politicians say that the only way to strengthen Medicare is to cut benefits and make older people and future retirees pay more. And they overwhelmingly oppose a current proposal to cut Social Security as part of a deal to reduce the deficit. There's a better way.
For Medicare, we need sensible, effective solutions that improve care, reduce health care costs and create real savings for taxpayers — without cutting benefits. Here are some ideas.
Reduce prescription drug costs: Clamp down on drug companies' high prices by allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices and by improving access to lower-cost biologic drugs — vital medications that treat some of our most challenging health conditions, including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.
Improve care coordination: We can improve patient health and reduce medical errors. This also will help prevent dangerous, avoidable and expensive hospital readmissions, ensure that patients are receiving recommended care, and save taxpayer dollars.
Crack down on waste and inefficiency: The U.S. health care system wastes as much as one-third of all spending because of inefficient payment systems, uncoordinated care, mistakes, duplication and unnecessary paperwork. We must step up efforts to detect fraud and crack down on criminals who file false Medicare claims. We need to focus on improving care and cutting unnecessary tests and procedures, which are often the result of payment incentives and fear of litigation.
Securing the future of Social Security demands a separate discussion. Social Security is a self-financed program, not a piggy bank for deficit reduction. Yet right now, President Obama and Congress are trying to balance the budget by cutting the yearly cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security.
They're advocating the "chained CPI," a fancy Washington term that really means a significant benefit cut that would cost both current and future seniors, veterans and our nation's most vulnerable citizens thousands of dollars over their lifetimes. The cuts would get deeper every year.
We believe that President Obama and Congress owe it to all Americans to take responsible, commonsense action to keep Medicare and Social Security strong — today and tomorrow. These programs provide the income and access to health care that people rely on every day. They are benefits older people have earned — and past generations have promised. AARP is fighting hard to make sure our elected officials in Washington keep that promise. We urge you to join us.
Call to action: Go to earnedasay.org and tell the president and Congress to leave cuts to Social Security out of any budget deal.