President Joe Biden promised Americans that he would not allow cuts to Social Security or Medicare under any circumstances and urged Congress to help older adults get the care they need to remain in their homes, in his second State of the Union address on Feb. 7.
"Tonight, let’s all agree to stand up for seniors," Biden said. "Stand up and show them we will not cut Social Security. We will not cut Medicare. Those benefits belong to the American people. They earned them." Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle stood and made it clear from their extended applause that cuts to these two programs were, in the president's words, "off the table."
Biden also promised that the budget he will send to Congress will extend the Medicare Trust Fund by at least two decades, but he didn't say how he planned to accomplish that. The latest report from the trustees who oversee the Social Security and Medicare trust funds estimates that Medicare's hospital insurance fund could run short of money starting in 2028. According to the trustees, if nothing changes, in 2028 incoming revenue would still cover 90 percent of Medicare costs.
"I won't cut a single Social Security or Medicare benefit," Biden said. "Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever."
Social Security is the main source of income for more than 34 million households. For many, it is nearly all their income. And of the 65 million people covered by Medicare, about half have annual incomes of less than $27,000.
“AARP has been crystal clear with Congress and the President: Americans should be able to trust that our leaders will safeguard their hard-earned Social Security and Medicare benefits they have contributed to and earned throughout their lives," AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins said after Biden's address. In January, Jenkins had issued a statement saying that AARP would fight "any cuts to the Social Security and Medicare benefits workers and retirees have paid into and earned."
Law lowering drug prices will remain
While the president renewed his pledge to continue to support Ukraine in its war with Russia and to win the competition with China, the vast majority of Biden's address was devoted to his domestic agenda. He highlighted the 2022 law that made some historic changes to Medicare, including the $35 a month copay cap on insulin covered by Medicare prescription drug plans, making federally recommended vaccines free and requiring drug companies that raise their prices more than the rate of inflation to pay Medicare back for the increases. The new law also allows Medicare for the first time ever to begin negotiating the prices of some widely used and expensive prescription drugs and will put a $2,000 limit on how much Medicare beneficiaries will have to pay for their covered medications.