Social Security and Medicare
I have always been, and will continue to be, dedicated to working toward a solution so that all who have paid into the Social Security system will benefit fairly.
As it has become increasingly obvious that Social Security will go bankrupt without action, Congress has been working to find a solution. The Social Security Board of Trustees has reported that payroll tax revenues will remain above program costs until 2017; thereafter the financial solvency of Social Security will be severely compromised. While we continue to work to protect and preserve Social Security for the 46 million beneficiaries now on the roles and those near retirement, we must also seek out innovative solutions for the millions of younger Americans who will one day rely on the program.
Social Security provides an important safety net for the senior citizens of our nation and I believe that every American who has contributed to Social Security deserves the benefits for which they have paid. Between 2010 and 2030, the number of people age 65 and older is projected to grow by 75% while the number of workers supporting the Social Security system is expected to grow by only six percent. The retirement of the baby boomers represents a huge demographic shift that will greatly impact Social Security. With the cost of living in California rising at an alarming rate and the baby-boom population reaching retirement, it is important that Congress take actions to protect current benefits and ensure long-term solvency of the Social Security program. I remain committed to working in a bipartisan manner to strengthen Social Security for current beneficiaries and future generations.
There are a variety of proposals to address the unfunded liability of the Social Security system. Some plans seek to create voluntary individual retirement accounts to replace the current system, and others would retain part of the current system while adding individual accounts. I believe that younger Americans who want to move towards higher yield investments should have that option as long as today's seniors and near seniors will not be affected by such a transition. I do not support the government investing Social Security funds in the stock market and I will never support legislation that would change current retirees’ benefits.
I also support eliminating the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision and restoring benefits to federal, state, and local government workers, that is why I am a cosponsor of H.R. 235, the Social Security Fairness Act of 2009.
Ensuring the long-term solvency of the Medicare and Medicaid programs is a top priority. One way to improve Medicare’s financial outlook is to ensure that the program only pays for services for which reimbursement is due. In FY 2009, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) estimates that Medicare and Medicaid Fee for Service made $24 billion in improper payments. For every $1 that is spent on combating Medicare and Medicaid fraud, the programs saves $1.55. I support all efforts to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse that exist in the Medicare system today so that Medicare and Medicaid are available to serve America’s future generations.
In addition to ensuring Medicare’s solvency, Congress must work to ensure that America’s Medicare beneficiaries have access to the broadest and best network of physicians possible. Over the last year, Congress has enacted several “Doc Fixes” to protect Medicare beneficiaries’ access to physician care and prevent draconian cuts to physician reimbursements. This simply is not right. I believe the time has come for Congress to fully address the issue of the Sustainable Growth Rate formula (SGR), upon which payments to physicians by the federal government are based. A permanent and fiscally responsible fix to this ever growing problem is essential. Full physician reimbursement for treating Medicare beneficiaries should not be subject to the whims of the Congressional calendar or the push and pull of a divided Congress.
I voted against nearly $500 billion in cuts to Medicare that were included in the Obama and Pelosi supported government take over of health care. Medicare Advantage plans were cut by $132 billion, these plans are chosen by half of all Medicare beneficiaries in the 44th Congressional District. I will continue to fight these deep cuts to vital Medicare services.
I stand ready to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to enact a true, permanent solution to the SGR that fairly compensates providers, safeguards the physician’s ability to serve their community, protects seniors’ access to care, and defends the taxpayers’ right to fiscally responsible representation in the United States Congress.
Maintaining solvent and stable Medicare and Social Security programs is paramount to my legislative goals for the upcoming 112th Congress. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and the President to ensure America continues to maintain strong and reliable Social Security and Medicare systems.