Millions of Americans have worked hard their entire lives and depend on Social Security and Medicare during their retirement. I will fight to preserve and protect these vital programs, so that all seniors can have the dignified retirement they have earned.
Preserving Social Security
Social Security is a promise that we have made to our nation's seniors. Work hard, pay your share, and you will be taken care of in your retirement. Seniors have contributed to Social Security by paying payroll taxes during their working years and they have earned their benefits. As Congress considers proposals to reduce the deficit, I will oppose measures that undermine our social security system and cut benefits to seniors.
We need to strengthen Social Security for future retirees, not use it to pay down our debt. While Social Security benefits are indexed for inflation, they are not keeping pace with the high costs of health care and prescription drugs that many seniors face. I oppose efforts to move to a chained consumer price index (CPI), an alternative measure of inflation that would slowly decrease seniors' benefits over time. Although the changes might be small at first, by the time a typical retiree reaches age 75 they could face a benefit cut of $560 a year. That number only grows with time. Instead of reducing seniors' benefits, we should do more to ensure that payments are keeping pace with inflation. That's why I support using the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E), which better reflects seniors' higher costs of living. I will do all that I can to ensure that seniors receive the benefits for which they have worked so hard.
Protecting Medicare and Medicaid
Medicare and Medicaid provide access to care for some of our must vulnerable populations. I will fight back against attempts to turn Medicare into a privatized voucher program that shifts costs to seniors and those with disabilities. I support allowing Medicare and Medicaid to negotiate prescription drugs prices, which could lower costs for seniors and save the federal government $130 billion over ten years. We also must look for ways to strengthen and improve access to affordable long-term care for seniors. Medicaid programs serve as an important safety net for seniors by helping pay the cost of long-term care. I oppose proposals to turn Medicaid into a block grant, and I will fight for increased federal contribution to state Medicaid programs. The Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid coverage to millions of low-income Americans, and the federal government must continue its commitment to ensure that the program in every state is strong and robust.
Each year, Congress struggles to find a fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR). Without further Congressional action, Medicare physician payments could be cut by 24.4% at the end of March. A reduction in Medicare payments would have a devastating effect on physicians, health care providers, and patients across the country. Bipartisan, bicameral legislation has been proposed by the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee to eliminate the SGR and reform Medicare payments. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to find a solution that ends the uncertainty of the SGR once and for all and ensures that Medicare patients can continue to be served by their physicians.
Health Care Reform and Seniors
The Affordable Care Act made key improvements to our health care system that will directly benefit seniors and Medicare recipients. The law is already working to close the Medicare Part D coverage gap for prescription drugs, known as the "donut hole," and by 2020 the donut hole will be eliminated completely. The law also eliminated copayments for preventive services in Medicare so patients won't be charged for visiting the doctor for routine check-ups, and extended the life of the Medicare Trust Fund. As your representative from the Inland Empire, I will fight to protect the Affordable Care Act and ensure that the law is implemented in a fair manner.