Medicare is the federal health insurance program that 57 million seniors and people with disabilities count on for affordable, quality health benefits. But there could be trouble ahead.
The new head of Health and Human Services, former Congressman Tom Price, has been trying for years to turn Medicare into a private insurance, voucher program. The new budget director wants to raise the retirement age for Medicare and Social Security benefits.
Under a privatized program, seniors and disabled Americans would get a fixed dollar payment – a voucher – from the government to buy their own insurance coverage. But retirees on fixed incomes and disabled persons not able to fully work won’t be able to afford the premium costs or increasing out-of-pocket costs.
Over time, more costs would be shifted to seniors. There would be less government involvement and oversight to ensure quality of care.
Working people pay into the Medicare and Social Security programs throughout their working lives, in exchange for a promise of retirement security. Privatization breaks this promise. It would be a windfall for insurers, but the Medicare program that consistently has meant quality care and lower cost coverage for hundreds of millions of seniors and disabled Americans would collapse.
On the campaign trail, President Trump repeatedly said Medicare and Social Security must be maintained, without cuts. “Medicare is a program that works... We’re not going to hurt the people that have been paying into Social Security their whole life and then all of a sudden they’re supposed to get less... I am going to protect your Social Security and your Medicare. You made a deal a long time ago,” he said.
CWAers – retired and active members – will be mobilizing to help the President keep those promises.