Senator Sherrod Brown (OH)
Medicare and Social Security are bedrocks of the American Dream, guaranteeing a secure retirement that Americans earn over a lifetime of hard work.
In the Senate, I’m working to update and strengthen these lifelines for generations to come. Last year, I introduced the bipartisan Social Security Fairness Act to ensure the federal government keeps its end of the bargain and pays all Americans’ Social Security benefits in full. Right now, too many public servants and their families receive reduced benefits.
These workers have taught our children and kept our communities safe, and it’s up to us to make sure police, firefighters and teachers can retire with their full Social Security benefits. This small fix will help these workers and their families have the peace of mind that their Social Security benefits will be there for them when they retire from a life dedicated to serving our communities. And I’m also working to expand Social Security for all workers, whether they worked as public servants or in the private sector.
While we work to protect and strengthen Social Security, we also have to protect the private pensions that Americans earned through decades of work. Right now, more than a million Americans in multiemployer pensions plans are at risk of massive cuts to their retirements. I refuse to let that happen – that’s why I’m co-chairing Congress’s special, bipartisan committee tasked with solving this crisis by the end of the year.
We also have opportunities to make Medicare work even better. I led efforts to remove Social Security numbers from seniors’ Medicare cards, to help protect Americans from fraud and identity theft. Beginning this year and into next year, Medicare will issue new cards to all seniors without Social Security numbers – some seniors have already received their new cards in the mail, and all Medicare recipients should have their new cards by next April.
We also know that many seniors on Medicare are still left with out-of-pocket costs they can’t afford, and the confusing Medicare enrollment process can make these problems worse.
Last year I worked with my colleagues to introduce the Medicare Affordability and Enrollment Act. It would cap out-of-pocket expenses for traditional Medicare, and help more seniors who have trouble affording their premiums. The bill would also make the enrollment process easier, begin coverage earlier, and reduce arbitrary, expensive late enrollment fees that can hit seniors with additional costs for the rest of their lives.
We also need to bring down the cost of prescription drugs for seniors. For years I have fought to give the Medicare the authority to negotiate lower drug prices for seniors. This would not only lower drug costs for seniors, but would also save taxpayers billions and help lead to lower drug prices in the private insurance market.
These are the sorts of commonsense solutions we need to improve and strengthen the programs that are the bedrock of a secure retirement.
The opinions expressed in the “Congressional Corner” reflect the views of the writer and are not necessarily those of TSCL.