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AARP Bulletin

Washington Watch

AARP to Congress About Federal Spending Cuts: Do No Harm

Budget fixes should strengthen, not hurt, Medicare and Social Security

En español | While members of Congress seek solutions to the nation's budget and fiscal challenges, AARP continues to urge them to find fixes that won't hurt Medicare and Social Security beneficiaries.

See also: Social Security retirement benefits are critical and should not be cut

Here are some ideas that could help:

  • Reduce prescription drug costs under Medicare Part D and bring lower-priced generics to market more swiftly. These moves would save money for both the Medicare program and those who need prescriptions.

  • Improve care coordination and prevent hospital readmissions, which would ensure better treatment and cut costs.

  • Reduce waste and fraud in Medicare and streamline services, which would save money in the long run and provide better care.

  • Keep Social Security separate from the rest of the budget and shore up the program without using it to reduce the deficit.

"For Medicare, we need to address the program in ways that would reduce overall health care costs, not simply ask seniors to pay more or get less in benefits," says David Certner, AARP director of legislative policy. "For Social Security, changes should be discussed only in the context of strengthening Social Security and retirement security."

Still, Congress must try to settle some important issues, including funding for the government in the long term and promoting economic growth. Sequestration — the 10-year series of automatic across-the-board spending cuts in many government functions that took effect this year — again looms over the discussions. Without congressional action, another round of cuts will occur in early 2014.

The result is that lawmakers are looking for places to trim the budget. AARP says it would be better to consider measures that strengthen programs for older Americans, rather than cut them.

"We want to make sure that earned Social Security benefits are not used as a piggy bank for the budget debate," Certner says. "There are ways to reduce health care spending without cutting benefits or charging Medicare beneficiaries more."

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