With the Senate poised to vote today on several budget resolutions, AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond sent a letter to Sens. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to voice the Association's opposition to proposals that could harm the health and financial security of current and future retirees. AARP acknowledges the need to address nation's long-term debt, but the organization has serious concerns about any budget proposal that relies on arbitrary spending limits that could erode the vital Medicare and Social Security benefits millions of older Americans have earned through a lifetime of hard work.
Concerning the budget resolution by Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA), S. Con Res 19, LeaMond wrote that the bill's proposed 18.5 percent spending cap could not be achieved without harmful cuts to programs that serve society's most vulnerable.
"We do not believe that level of savings can be achieved from other mandatory health programs (such as Medicaid) without seriously harming the programs that serve our nation's most vulnerable citizens," LeaMond wrote. "Medicare does not cover long-term institutional or home care services, and today, roughly two-thirds of Medicaid spending is for people with disabilities and those aged 65 and over. And, as our nation's population grows older, simply capping spending on Medicaid will do nothing to help the millions of Americans and their caregivers who rely on it to help provide long-term services and supports."
On the budget proposal put forth by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), S. Con Res 20, LeaMond expressed the organization's strong concerns that the proposal would result in deep spending cuts that could harm Medicare, Medicaid and possibly Social Security.
Under the proposal, "deep spending cuts are required under reconciliation instructions including over a half a trillion dollars in cuts over the next five years in programs under the jurisdiction of the Senate Finance Committee," she wrote. "It is difficult to imagine how such deep spending cuts could be achieved without resulting in harmful cuts to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security."
With regards to the proposal from Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), S. Con Res 18, LeaMond noted arbitrary spending targets do not work to rein in spending costs throughout the health care system.
"...[W]e remain concerned that relying on arbitrary spending targets is neither a good way to make health policy nor a good way to drive down overall health costs," LeaMond wrote.
As a part of its ongoing effort to protect Medicare, Social Security and access to long-term care, AARP recently announced an effort (www.aarp.org/protectseniors) to stop Congress from making harmful cuts to vital Medicare and Social Security benefits as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling. The Association looks forward to working with senators on both sides of the aisle to devise solutions to the nation's debt that ensure these bedrock programs are protected and strengthened.
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