Programs provide benefits to 1 in 5 residents, contribute $79 billion per year to state’s economy
A new report issued today (http://bit.ly/samlK2) outlines the importance of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to people in Pennsylvania and the state’s economy.
The report comes out just as Pennsylvania’s Senator Pat Toomey finishes his work on the congressional Super Committee tasked with reducing the federal deficit. The Committee must recommend at least $1.2 trillion in spending cuts by November 23. The full Congress must approve these recommendations by the end of the year, or it will trigger automatic deficit reduction.
At an event today, the Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans and the Strengthen Social Security campaign unveiled the report detailing the number of state residents who rely on these programs as well as the economic impact and number of jobs the programs support.
Although programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are widely scapegoated in federal deficit discussions, today’s report points out that they are not the true cause of the deficit. The report notes the large recent run-up in federal deficits resulted largely from 2001 and 2003 tax cuts; unpaid costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; the Great Recession which dramatically reduced tax collections, and the Wall Street bank bailout. Correspondingly, in seeking solutions to the federal deficit, the Super Committee should be looking at its causes and should not be cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which are absolutely vital to the economic security of this nation.
Highlights from the new report:
ü Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid spend a total of about $79 billion a year in Pennsylvania, providing benefits to an average of 1 out of every 5 residents for each program.
ü Social Security provided benefits to more than 1 in 5 (20.3 percent) residents in 2010, with an average benefit of $13,508 per year.
ü Without Social Security, the elderly poverty rate in Pennsylvania would increase from 1 out of 11 (8.7 percent) to nearly half (47.7) residents.
ü Social Security never has and will never contribute to federal budget deficits because, by law, it does not have borrowing authority.
ü Medicare spending generally rises less than private health insurance. From 1997 - 2009, Medicare’s annual costs per beneficiary rose far less than those of private health insurance. Cutting Medicare’s benefits simply shifts costs to the sickest and oldest among us, forcing some seniors and people with disabilities to forego treatment, living shorter, less healthy – and more medically costly – lives as a result.
ü Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are a lifeline for residents of Pennsylvania and the lifeblood of many small businesses, hospitals and nursing homes and home caregivers. Most of the jobs they create stay in America. Cutting these programs would threaten our families’ economic security and health and deepen our jobs crisis.
ü Two-thirds of all Medicaid spending is for seniors and people with disabilities. One out of every four (16 million) seniors and people with disabilities depended on Medicaid in 2010.
Pennsylvania resident Maxine Yancey worked as a nurse for 43 years. She is now retired and gets by with help for Social Security and Medicare.She said, “For me, it’s a matter of survival. Without the help of my four adult children and these supports, I would not be able to survive.”
“Too often political and media elites talk about these programs as just cold, unfeeling facts and figures, as if they are divorced from the people whose lives they touch,” said Eric Kingson, co-director of Social Security Works. “Too often, the programs are talked about as ‘problems’ when in fact they really are ‘solutions’ – solutions that provide benefits that have been earned through the hard work of Americans.”
Jean Friday President of the Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans said, “I worry about the future of retirement in this country. People used to work until the day they died. Seniors often lived in extreme poverty and bad health. We’ve come a long way, and we can’t go back. … We call upon Senator Toomey to support retirees and all residents in Pennsylvania by safeguarding these programs.”
View the full report here: http://bit.ly/samlK2.