Representative Jim McGovern (MA-2)
This Spring, I spent my weekends crisscrossing Massachusetts and visiting coffee shops, town halls, and senior centers to hear directly from the people I work for. One thing that I’ve heard time and again from seniors is that we cannot cut Medicare and Medicaid.
Unfortunately, many in Washington continue to look for ways to attack or privatize these vital programs. And all too often, our leaders forget why they were created in the first place.
Before the Social Security Act of 1935, getting old usually meant being poor. And before Medicare was launched in 1966, only 51% of Americans age 65 and older had health care coverage.
Through hard work and years of dialogue and debate, we decided to put an end to that. Our seniors have worked hard – and paid for – the guaranteed benefits that Medicare and Social Security provide. Together, these programs have lifted millions of Americans out of poverty.
I believe that instead of cutting these entitlements which we fought so hard to create, we ought to be increasing benefits, improving the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) formula to better reflect the costs incurred by seniors, and cutting taxes for beneficiaries who have paid into the system for their whole lives.
That’s why I’m a strong supporter of the Social Security 2100 Act, which would expand Social Security by making a small, simple change: asking millionaires and billionaires to pay the exact same payroll tax rate as everyone else does.
I also strongly believe that we need to give Medicare the ability to directly negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to stop the outrageous increases in prescription drug prices that seniors are facing.
Another thing I’ve heard is that older Americans are taking on a bigger role in raising their grandchildren. This month, over 2.5 million children in America are in a household where a grandparent is the primary caregiver. The opioid epidemic that has affected so many communities is only expected to increase that number. It goes without saying that these grandparent-led households face unique challenges. They may not have time to plan financially, or it may be difficult for them to access school or healthcare information.
So last year, I led my colleagues in the House and Senate – Democrats and Republicans – to introduce the “Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act” – which I’m proud to report was passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Trump. Our bill creates a new federal advisory council focused on developing and disseminating information designed to help grandparents. Currently, the Department of Health and Human Services is in the process of setting up this council, and I look forward to working with them to ensure that grandparent-led households have access to the tools and support they need.
I want you to know that our new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives is committed keeping the promises America has made to our seniors and fighting for you in Washington. We are going to do everything we can to support and expand the programs you rely on. And we are going to work our tail off so that every single person in this country is treated with the fairness, dignity and respect they deserve.
The opinions expressed in “Congressional Corner” reflect the views of the writer and are not necessarily those of TSCL.