Women, communities of color and allies call on the President and Congress to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid
We must protect the benefits we rely on through Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
President Obama has announced that he will propose a budget plan on Weds. April 10 that is unprecedented for a Democratic president. It will propose a cut to Social Security benefits for seniors, veterans and people with disabilities.
It appears the proposed cut will take the form of “chained” CPI—a discredited way of calculating annual cost-of-living increases that does not keep up with actual costs, eating into benefits. http://www.taylormarsh.com/blog/2013/04/obama-moves-grand-bargain-into-the-budget-and-women-will-be-hurt-the-most/
The president’s budget proposal also would require middle-class seniors—people who make $47,000 a year and more—to pay higher Medicare premiums.
It is unconscionable to ask seniors, people with disabilities and veterans who are barely making it to be squeezed even tighter at a time when corporations and the wealthiest 2% are not paying their fair share of taxes, despite soaring profits.
It’s bad policy to make cuts that will weaken our economic recovery.
And it’s wrong, at a time of record income inequality and stagnant wages, to make the gap even worse by undercutting the retirement security of working- and middle-class Americans.
To avoid these consequences, Congress could just raise tax rates for the wealthiest 2% of the population, but carve out middle-income people, who need the cash to stimulate the economy. Failing that, groups associated with finance capital have advocated for a “Grand Bargain,” first proposed by the failed Simpson-Bowles commission, to cut benefits for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, while opposing any tax increases.
Cutting benefits from Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid would be especially harmful to the health of women, who live longer but have lower incomes. Additionally, women of color, who already experience a host of health disparities and difficulties in accessing critical health services would be disproportionately impacted by any erosion of Medicaid.
The “chained CPI” would directly reduce benefits paid to the elderly, estimated at 3 months of groceries a year. (See: http://www.nwlc.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/socialsecuritychainedcpiupd…) it would tip millions of elderly women into poverty, including many without family or friends as caregivers, and who are people of color. They would have to spend down their savings to become eligible for Medicaid, and experience medically unnecessary confinement in nursing homes as a result.
Medicare is the major source of payment for hospital and ambulatory care as well as for rehabilitation services and considerable home health and nursing home care. Forcing women to neglect necessary care at ages 65-67 would result in greater risk of complications from chronic diseases as they grow older.
Medicaid provides essential support to pregnant women, their children and people using long term care services at home, in their communities and in skilled nursing facilities. Any reduction of these benefits would irretrievably harm health and hasten death among women.
Further, the Social Security Trust Fund is entirely solvent through 2038, requiring only minor tweaks in the interim to extend into the future. Medicare and Medicaid are affected by health care cost increases, but cutting benefits will not solve those problems.
On Nov. 6, women and communities of color gave the margin of victory to a President and members of Congress who promised to fight for higher taxes on the wealthy, for more public investment and for careful cuts in spending, while revitalizing the economy.
Congress and the President must protect the lifelines we rely on through Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Cutting benefits from Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid would be especially harmful to the health of women, who live longer but have lower incomes. The “chained CPI” would cut payments to women in their 80s by the cost of 3 months of groceries a year. Additionally, women of color, who already experience a host of health disparities and difficulties in accessing critical health services would be disproportionately impacted by any erosion of Medicaid. These cuts would do nothing to address the deficit. Such cuts would force women ages 65-67 to neglect needed health care, worsening chronic conditions throughout their lives. Reduced income support would force many elderly women without family or friends as caregivers to spend down to qualify for Medicaid, and experience medically unnecessary confinement in nursing homes as a result.
There is a ready solution to raise revenue: Fairly tax the wealthiest 2% of Americans.
We urge you to fight for:
1. No cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits
2. Fairly tax the wealthiest 2% of Americans