By Representative Kristi Noem (SD – At Large)
Medicare is a program that nearly 50 million seniors and people with disabilities rely on. The critical importance of this program to our seniors cannot be overstated, just as its fiscal state cannot be ignored. I know seniors across this country and in my state of South Dakota have been hearing a lot of different things about Medicare lately. Above all the noise, our seniors and the rest of America deserve to know the truth about what's happening to this important program.
According to the Medicare Trustees (a six-member board that includes the Treasury Secretary, Labor Secretary and the Commissioner of Social Security), the Medicare Trust Fund will become insolvent by 2024. If the program’s impending insolvency is not addressed, the Trustees tell us, Congress would have to increase the Medicare payroll tax by 47 percent or cut benefits by 26 percent. That kind of a solution would cripple Medicare, not just for today's seniors, but our children and grandchildren as well.
I refuse to stand by and allow this to happen. Like many Americans, Medicare is a very personal issue for me. My grandmother is on Medicare and my mom is going to be soon. I want to save and strengthen this program to ensure it can serve today’s seniors as well as tomorrow's. I support a bipartisan plan that would do just that.
The plan I support would keep Medicare exactly as it is today for anyone 55 or older while increasing the choices for health care coverage for people who are younger. As part of this bipartisan plan, future Medicare beneficiaries would be provided with a premium-support payment and a list of guaranteed coverage options – including traditional Medicare – from which to choose a plan that best suits their needs. On top of increased options, this plan would also give more support to low-income folks and the very sick, while providing less support to wealthier individuals.
Medicare is a promise the federal government made to America's seniors, and the government needs to honor that promise. I want to make sure the government is financially able to do so. I know there remains a lot of uncertainty about Medicare's financial status, and I encourage seniors and all Americans to seek out the facts. I also encourage any senior with questions to call their U.S. House Representative or one of their Senators, because we're committed to answering your questions.