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Issue Position: Social Security and Medicare

Issue Position

Social Security

For 75 years, Social Security has been a bedrock promise between generations and a critical source of income for retired Americans. Without Social Security, half of America's seniors would live in poverty.

I am dedicated to strengthening Social Security's long-term finances so that it continues to provide a guaranteed base of retirement, disability and survivor's income for current and future generations.

I oppose the privatization of Social Security. It's a mistake to gamble it in the stock market. I am also unwilling to raise the eligibility age as some in my own party have proposed.

Like a car, Social Security does not run indefinitely; it requires care and maintenance. The formula has been tweaked in the past--successfully--and it is time to bring Social Security in for service again. But it is hardly time to trade it in.

We have time to think carefully about how to strengthen Social Security. The Social Security trust fund is solvent, and will remain so well into the 2030s. Modest adjustments can extend that solvency. A bipartisan commission, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, is due to report on a range of potential adjustments by the end of the year.

The recommendations of the bipartisan commission -- staffed by economic experts -- should be our starting point for evaluating the steps needed to keep Social Security going strong for the next 75 years.

While these long-term recommendations are being formulated, I am promoting policies that protect Social Security benefits.

I cosponsored the Social Security Fairness Act to repeal two provisions that short some seniors on their benefits.

I cosponsored a bill to provide a one-time $250 payment for retirees if there is no cost of living adjustment to Social Security this year.

Medicare

For over 40 years, Medicare has offered critical health and financial stability for our seniors. There are over 128,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Arizona's Eighth Congressional district alone.

I have voted to strengthen Medicare by:

* Making basic preventive care FREE for seniors who receive Medicare
* Lowering the cost of prescription drugs for seniors who receive Medicare
* Extending the solvency of the Medicare trust fund into the 2020s

Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage plans were introduced to Medicare in the 1990s because they were supposed to be a cheaper alternative to the traditional Medicare program. However, they have turned out to be more expensive.

The Medicare program has been paying Medicare Advantage plans an average of 14 percent (more than $1,000 per person each year) more than it costs traditional Medicare to provide the same care. This has added hundreds of billions of dollars of costs to Medicare, and it increases every Medicare beneficiary's monthly premiums.

These overpayments generate considerable profits for the insurance companies that run Medicare Advantage plans. Not surprisingly, many new Medicare Advantage plans have entered the Medicare market to take advantage of these overpayments. But there is no evidence that these new private plans provide any better care than traditional Medicare.

To save taxpayer money and extend the life of the Medicare trust fund, I voted to cut overpayments to insurance companies. I have not voted to cut benefits.

In September 2010, the New York Times reported that the average Medicare Advantage premium will decrease slightly in 2011. This will occur at the same time as the improved benefits I voted for, including free preventative care and lower prescription drug costs, take effect.


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