David Certner, AARP: Social Security money can only be used for Social Security. However, since the rest of the budget has run up a large debt, it is harder to pay back all debt — including money owed to Social Security. Many propose to reduce Social Security to make it easier to pay back debt. We think it is wrong to reduce Social Security to address problems in the rest of the federal budget.
Comment From Nancy: Why is there no protection for retirees’ health care prior to Medicare? Companies can drop at will.
David Certner, AARP: Unfortunately, the law does not fully protect employer-provided retiree health care programs, and many employers have chosen to reduce or even drop their benefit promises.
The new health care law, in order to encourage employers to keep these benefits, created a temporary program to help employers with the costs of those benefit programs.
For early retirees not yet eligible for Medicare and without access to retiree health benefits, the new law will also help by preventing insurers from turning them down for coverage due to health problems. And, for the first time, those with modest incomes may be eligible for help with the cost of purchasing their health insurance.
Comment From Guest: I am concerned about the way the payroll tax cut is funded through a reduction in Social Security taxes. This makes the Social Security trust fund dependent on congressional appropriations. Will the AARP be opposing any further extension of this type of tax cut?
David Certner, AARP: We have always insisted that the current payroll tax cut — designed to help the economy — should be temporary and that the Social Security program be made whole so that it has no effect on benefits paid today or in the future. Today, Social Security is being fully reimbursed as the law requires — it is not dependent on congressional appropriations.
But we agree that it is not a good policy to further borrow from Social Security. We have made clear to Congress that we oppose extending this policy because it would begin to erode confidence in Social Security.
Comment From Carol Ann: How do I get started with the preventive care that is mandated in the new health care law? I'd like to be pro-active and work toward getting healthier.
David Certner, AARP: Great question, Carol Ann!
The new health reform law has plenty for people who want to take control of their health and stay healthy!