Nation’s Aging Organizations Weigh in on Budget Fixes with Budget Chairs Murray and Ryan; Oppose Imposition of New Medicare Copays
November 6, 2013 04:10 PM
The Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO), a coalition of 69 national non-profit organizations committed to securing the well-being of America's older population, sent a letter to U.S. Congressional Budget Committee chairs Patty Murray (D-WA) and Paul Ryan (R-WI) urging specific solutions to strengthen economic recovery without cutting the vital benefits of older Americans.
The letter urges increases in revenue, as well as targeted spending reductions that do not increase poverty or income inequality. LCAO urges Congress to end the sequester; adopt Fiscal Year 2014 spending bills that protect and strengthen critical non-defence discretionary programs; and to protect current and future Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. Some members of Congress expect concessions on earned benefits in order to pass a FY2014 budget; however, in light of America’s demographic and economic realities, LCAO strongly opposes proposals to cut benefits or shift additional costs to older adults, people with disabilities and their families.
The letter specifically states that:
“Shifting higher health care costs to people with Medicare: Proposals to shift costs to people with Medicare, such as increasing deductibles, coinsurances, or copayments, as well as those that seek to limit or tax Medigap coverage or further income-relate Medicare premiums, must not be adopted as blunt tools to achieve federal savings. LCAO strongly opposes proposals to shift added costs to people with Medicare, many of whom simply cannot afford to pay more for health care.
Half of all people with Medicare—nearly 25 million—live on annual incomes of $22,500 or less, and one quarter live on annual incomes of $14,000 or less. Health care costs are already a significant expense for Medicare beneficiaries and are increasing. In 2010, Medicare premiums and cost sharing consumed 26% of the average monthly Social Security benefit, compared to only 7% in 1980. Today the average Medicare household spends 15% of their income on health care, three times that of non-Medicare households. It is also important to note that Medicare per capita spending is experiencing historically low rates of growth.”
In 2012, 41 million Americans were over the age of 65, an 18% increase since 2000. With 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 each day, by 2040, an estimated 80 million Americans will be 65 or older. Many older Americans face economic and health challenges and the retirement income deficit continues to grow in America. Currently, 3.6 million adults over the age of 65 live in poverty, and one in seven seniors struggle with hunger.
Together, Social Security and Medicare benefits serve as the foundation of basic health and economic security for our nation’s seniors – and their importance in the future will be greater than ever before.
The complete letter is available at http://bit.ly/HwC96f or by visiting http://www.lcao.org/.