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January 02, 2013

In Fiscal Cliff Delay, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid Remain at Risk

The following statement was issued today by Jean Friday, President of the Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans:

“I am pleased that the so-called ‘Fiscal Cliff’ deal worked out between President Obama and Senate leadership passed the House of Representatives last night.  Despite losing the majority of Republican support in the House, Millions of middle and lower class Americans were spared a tax hike, while unemployment insurance was extended as well.  Most important to seniors, the legislation spared seniors from worrying that their physicians would no longer treat Medicare patients because of cuts in reimbursement rates.  No older American should have to worry that their health care is being held hostage to Washington gamesmanship.

“However, while the deal ending this latest round of high-stakes fiscal drama made some progress toward tax fairness, retirees and workers need to remain vigilant against long-standing threats to seniors’ health care and economic security.  Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – landmark national efforts to help retirees pay their bills, stay healthy and stay out of poverty – continue to be unfairly targeted as a way of keeping the wealthiest Americans and big corporations from paying their fair share of taxes.

“Despite what was heard daily in Washington and in the media, Social Security has not added one penny to the deficit.  We remain deeply troubled by a recurring policy proposal, coldly named the ‘chained-CPI,’ which would base future Social Security Cost-of-Living-Adjustments off a lower, badly-flawed measure of inflation, one that significantly under-estimates seniors’ day-to-day financial needs.

“As long as too many in Washington want those with the least to sacrifice the most, we must continue to educate and mobilize retirees and Americans of all ages.  In the 2012 elections, in public opinion surveys, and in recent grassroots actions, it has been crystal clear that Americans are opposed to cuts in these vital lifelines for millions of seniors. When will Washington truly listen?

”This week’s agreement is a brief pause in the long-running threats to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, programs that help millions of Americans every day.  Watch out for the debates over the debt ceiling, the Budget and the Continuing Resolution that funds the Government only through the end of March.  All of these upcoming legislative battles will be seen by those on the right as opportunities to attack our programs.  Until there is a long-term and equitable resolution to these fiscal debates, retirees and workers everywhere will need to remain educated and mobilized.”

The Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans, led by President Jean Friday of Westmoreland County, has over 300,000 members and 144 local affiliates across the Commonwealth.  PARA’s mission is to educate seniors and the public about retiree issues, and organize seniors to advocate for their interests in Harrisburg and Washington.  To learn more, visit www.pennretiredamericans.org.

 

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