Congressional Corner: Older Americans Need Stable Economic Future And Reliable Healthcare

Congressional Corner: Older Americans Need Stable Economic Future And Reliable Healthcare

Rep. Joe Garcia (FL-26)

Now more than ever, we must fight to ensure that when older Americans retire they can look forward to a stable economic future and reliable, high-quality healthcare.  During the devastating economic recession, older Americans saw their hard-earned savings dwindle, lost millions in diminished pension funds, and were laid off just a few years before retirement.  Now, Congress must work past partisan gridlock to support seniors.  During my time in Congress, I've fought for seniors by reaching across the aisle to protect landmark programs like Medicare and Social Security and introduced commonsense legislation that will strengthen the financial security of older Americans.

For decades, Medicare and Social Security have lifted millions of people out of poverty and provided seniors with affordable, high-quality healthcare and reliable financial support.  In Congress, we have a responsibility to strengthen and modernize Medicare and Social Security for today's seniors and future generations.  That's why, earlier this year, I worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to oppose proposals by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to cut Medicare Advantage and limit access to prescription drugs.  Thanks to these bipartisan efforts, CMS reconsidered these proposals.

At a time when Congress is deeply divided on many issues, we need to find a way to break through the gridlock to pass bipartisan, commonsense measures to support our nation's seniors.  In that spirit, I introduced the bipartisan SAFE ID Act to ensure that seniors can retire without fear of having their identity stolen or losing their savings.  With nine of the ten top cities for tax-ID fraud located in Florida, many seniors in my home state have fallen prey to identity theft and other forms of fraud.  This bipartisan legislation will eliminate one big source of identity theft by allowing a shortened taxpayer identity number to be used in place of a social security number on taxpayer forms like W-2s.

In addition to ensuring that we insulate seniors from fraud, we must support older Americans seeking to remain an active part of the workforce.  Earlier this year, I worked with Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) to introduce the Empowering Encore Entrepreneurs Act to create job opportunities for seniors who have not yet reached retirement but possess years of business experience.  My bipartisan bill will expand successful collaborative efforts between AARP and the Small Business Administration that offer mentoring and training to people over age 50 seeking to expand or start a small business.  Older workers, once unemployed, are more likely than others to remain unemployed, which is why we need to revitalize our economy by supporting those who found themselves out of a job before retirement.

Although many older Americans continue to face challenges as they approach retirement, Congress can and should do more to ensure that no retiring American needs to worry about making ends meet.