AARP: Hello and welcome to today's You've Earned a Say live chat! Thank you, everyone, for joining us today!
And thank you all for all the questions that are coming in. We'll try to get to as many as we can.
We're so happy to have David Certner, AARP's legislative policy director, with us today to answer your questions. In March, AARP launched You've Earned a Say, a national conversation about the future of Medicare and Social Security. W're giving people information about the major options on the table in Washington, both the pros and cons, without the political jargon and spin.
If you go to www.earnedasay.org, you'll find an analysis of the major options by experts who represent both sides of the political spectrum. We invite you to read that information and ask us a question about the options today.
Let's get started!
Comment From Michael McCranie: Americans pay the most for drugs of any country in the world. Why is Medicare not allowed to negotiate drug prices?
David Certner, AARP: Thanks for your question, Michael. You are correct that Medicare, by law, is currently prohibited from negotiating drug prices.
AARP has consistently supported legislation that would enable the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to use the bargaining power of Medicare’s 48 million beneficiaries to negotiate for lower prices.
AARP believes that leveraging Medicare’s significant buying power can achieve additional savings for beneficiaries, and help save taxpayers money.
Right now, Americans pay among the highest drug prices in the world.
Comment From Wes Thomspon: Would we still have a problem with Social Security if the government would keep their hands out of the till and pay back the money they have taken from the SS trust fund?
David Certner, AARP: Wes, this is a great question that we get a lot.
Social Security can pay full benefits until the trust funds are exhausted in 2033. Even after that time, Social Security can pay about 75 percent of promised benefits for the rest of the century. This assumes that the government pays back all the money it has borrowed from Social Security.
The Social Security trust funds hold about $2.7 trillion dollars of Treasury bonds — some call them IOUs, but most consider them the safest investment in the world. The bonds pay about 4.5 percent interest to Social Security, and similar to any Treasury bondholder, we expect that the government will continue to honor all the bonds and interest income owed to Social Security.