After decades of hard work, saving, and planning, many seniors are not enjoying the stable, safe retirement they deserve. In 2013, almost half of all adults aged 65 and older were living below the poverty level. Worse, many of the benefits that our elder population relies on – such as Social Security and Medicare – are constantly being threatened. As Representative to the district with the largest senior population in the Commonwealth and as a Member of the Congressional Seniors Task Force, ensuring our senior citizens receive the support they deserve is one of Bill’s top priorities.
Many items used largely by seniors, such as specific foods, prescription drugs, and other health care products, are increasing in price. Instead of using the chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) to lower COLA increases, Bill believes we need a more accurate measure of how inflation actually affects seniors.
Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are among the most important programs ever created by our government. Our seniors have worked hard and made sacrifices to ensure a better, stronger country for future generations. They deserve a secure, healthy environment with stable support networks.
Bill is an original cosponsor of the Social Security 2100 Act, which would comprehensively strengthen benefits for current and future Social Security beneficiaries. It is fully paid for and is estimated to keep the system solvent beyond the next 75 years. It would do this by requiring those earning above $400,000 to pay their fair share of Social Security taxes, just like everyone else, and by asking workers on average to contribute the equivalent of just an additional 50 cents per week each year. This is a smart, simple way to strengthen Social Security without doing it on the backs of our current seniors and most vulnerable populations.
Like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid have played an integral role in the lives of countless Americans. Medicare provides a stabilizing benefit to seniors who are being burdened by increased healthcare costs. It is currently the largest health insurance program in the country, insuring people age 65 and over, those under age 65 but who suffer from qualifying disabilities, and any individual with permanent kidney failure.
Medicaid has provided health coverage for seniors, children, parents, pregnant women, and individuals with disabilities since its inception in 1965. As this vital program protects nearly 1,600,000 enrollees in Massachusetts alone, Bill understands the importance of keeping Medicaid solvent and available to those who need it.
Medicare and Medicaid fraud is pervasive problem. Estimates of the extent of waste, fraud, and abuse in our health care system vary, but the lowest estimates exceed 20% of total health care expenditures in just six categories – overtreatment, failures of care coordination, failures in execution of care processes, administrative complexity, pricing failures, and fraud and abuse. For this reason, Bill introduced the Fighting Medicare Fraud Act of 2014, which would address this abuse and establish stiffer penalties on people who commit identity theft and Medicare fraud, ultimately saving money for seniors. It’s reported that each year 1.5 million people are victims of medical identity theft and $50 billion is lost in the system annually due to Medicare fraud. This legislation aims to curb that and is supported by the Alliance for Retired Americans.
Bill strongly opposes cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid as part of any deficit or spending reduction plan. He also opposes any cuts to LIHEAP, the program that provides heating assistance for seniors and low-income families. Bill has been a vocal and committed advocate for increased LIHEAP funding to help seniors and families throughout Massachusetts stay warm.