SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE ‘REFORM’Sep 1st, 2013 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Social Security & Medicare
Truth vs Distortion
There is a lot of talk (hot air?) in the news media about reforming Social Security and Medicare. Some claim both systems are ‘broken’ and need ‘fixing’. Others quote the dire predictions about Social Security going ‘broke’ by 2033. Medicare is ‘socialized medicine’ and needs to be thrown to the dogs.
What are the facts? What is truth and what is distortion?
First, Social Security does not create budget deficits. So the notion that Social Security needs to be cut/changed/reformed to make it work better is based on false information and distortions. If anything, Social Security needs to be strengthened and benefits need to be increased for vulnerable seniors whose only means of financial support is Social Security. Josh Rosenblum, HuffPost writer, suggests that Both Social Security and Medicare need strengthening through bipartisan discussions. SCJ agrees.
Second, both Social Security and Medicare are often wrongly labeled ‘entitlement’ programs. Entitlement programs are those that provide aid to people without the recipients paying anything in to the program from which they receive benefits. That is not the case with Social Security and Medicare. All US citizens pay into Social Security and Medicare, and there is a Part B deductible for Medicare that is automatically taken from the monthly Social Security check for every senior enrolled in Medicare. Those facts take both programs out of the entitlement box, and this means that the only thing needing a fix in the discussion is understanding reality about both programs.
Third, many experts and media personnel on the national scene are calling for strengthening Social Security and Medicare by increasing benefits and continuing to attack waste and fraud. Medicare spending is already down from last year because of efforts to identify fraud and going after those who try to milk the system illegally. Increasing Social Security benefits, especially for the thousands of seniors living on a mere $1200 per month just makes sense.
So the next time you hear a misinformed friend or colleague reporting distortions about Social Security and Medicare, you are encouraged to correct their information and give them a link to this column.