By Representative Debbie Lesko (AZ-8)
Since 1935 and 1965, Social Security and Medicare have been, and continue to be, essential for senior citizens of the United States. More than 60 million Americans are currently enrolled in these programs, with 10,000 new eligible enrollees each day. Because many seniors rely on Social Security and Medicare to make ends meet, I introduced H. Res. 1026 in Congress, which recognizes these as important programs that must be protected for current enrollees and strengthened for future generations.
The federal government made a commitment to senior citizens with the Social Security and Medicare programs. Many seniors worked their whole lives paying into the system with the assurance that, later in life, the Social Security and Medicare programs would be there for them. Congress has an obligation to these seniors and must keep its promise.
According to the nonpartisan Medicare Board of Trustees, Medicare is set to become bankrupt by 2026. The nonpartisan Social Security Administration estimates that Social Security will be bankrupt by 2034. We must take action to preserve these programs, without diminishing any benefits for those currently relying on the programs. To be clear, I do not support any cuts to these programs.
A first step in preserving these programs is to increase oversight and accountability. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that $59.7 billion was misspent in 2016 due to improper payments in the Medicare Program. The Social Security Administration estimates that $7.6 billion will be lost this year in the Social Security program, also due to improper payments. We must take every effort to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse in these programs, in order for them to continue on a sustainable path.
My resolution, H. Res. 1026, affirms Congress’s deep obligation to fulfill the promises made to senior citizens of the United States regarding access to Medicare and Social Security and rejects, in the strongest possible terms, any changes to Medicare or Social Security that diminish benefits for Americans currently enrolled, or citizens of the United States who are in or near the retirement age. It also expresses its firm commitment that Medicare and Social Security should be strengthened and preserved for future enrollees, and supports efforts to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse in these programs.
It is time for Congress to start the conversation on how to address the insolvency of the Social Security and Medicare programs, but we must do so without hurting those it is intended to help. There is a way for the government to keep its promise to seniors, and ensure these programs remain in place for future Americans.
Congresswoman Debbie Lesko represents Arizona’s Eighth Congressional District in Congress, which is located north and west of Phoenix, including Sun City, Surprise, and Peoria. She serves on the House Homeland Security Committee and the House Science Space and Technology Committees.
The opinions expressed in “Congressional Corner” are the view of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of TSCL.