Health advocacy groups rallied in California Wednesday to support expanding Medicare while urging supporters to protect the program from reform.
The rally, which also honored Medicare’s 49th anniversary, was organized by the Campaign for a Healthy California (CHC) and included groups like National Nurses United and the California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA).
Medicare is an entitlement program that provides health care to senior citizens.
“The Campaign for a Healthy California plans actions in 15 cities throughout California to celebrate Medicare’s successful provision of guaranteed health care to millions of elderly senior and disabled Americans for nearly half a century” declared a press release by the CHC.
The CHC goes onto warn that Medicare “is under attack, with efforts in Congress and the White House to reduce coverage, raise the eligibility age, eliminate providers and turn Medicare into a voucher program.”
“A new report Monday by trustees for Medicare and Social Security showing the trust fund that pays for Medicare is in much better shape than the doom and gloom predictions of the budget cutters and legislators who favor cutting benefits, raising the eligibility age or privatization. Now the trustees say that Medicare is on solid financial footing through 2030,” explains CHC.
CHC contends that the report show the best way to improve Medicare is to “expand the risk pool by adding more healthy people, as in extending the eligibility age to cover everyone.”
Others however are less optimistic that Medicare is on good financial grounds and should be expanded as is.
Robert Moffit, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s center for health policy studies, told The Daily Caller News foundation that, “Medicare trust funds go into debt in 2030.”
Moffit goes onto say that already Medicare has a “$14 billion deficit right now” which will only become worse if the program is not reformed.
Even a recent report by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services says that, “The Board projects that expenditures will increase in future years at a somewhat faster pace than either aggregate workers’ earnings or the economy overall,” which “if realized, would substantially increase the strain on the nation’s workers, the economy, Medicare beneficiaries, and the Federal budget.”
Moffit explains that this would cause many hospitals and nursing facilities to go into the red and not be able to sustain themselves.
Moving on to address the concern that legislators are trying to turn Medicare into a voucher program, Moffit explains, “No public figure today wants to give seniors a certificate that is redeemable.”
Instead, Moffit argues, such legislators are trying to create choice within the system to help improve options and coverage for seniors much like Medicare Part D which he claims is “more popular among seniors” as opposed to “regular Medicare.”
Regarding raising the age of eligibility, Moffit said, “When Social Security was enacted in 1935, life expectancy was 62.”
“If they slowed the growth of Medicare with market forces” Moffit told TheDCNF, “you’ll get innovation” and help “bring prices down.”
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