Protecting Medicare and Social Security for seniors today and our children tomorrow is a top priority for Congressman Pascrell. Since its creation in 1965, Medicare has dramatically increased insurance coverage, improved access to care, and saved millions of lives. Similarly, Social Security has prevented many seniors from facing poverty and has preserved the dignity of life after retirement.
As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, which oversees both Medicare and Social Security, Bill helped to write the historic health reform bill to lower costs under Medicare by making certain preventative services free and by addressing the gap in prescription drug coverage, otherwise known as the donut hole. Health care reform starts by giving seniors who are in the donut hole a $250 rebate check in 2010 and closes the donut hole entirely by 2020. The bill also drastically strengthens the Medicare program by extending the life of Medicare by 12 years. Part of the savings in health care reform came from rolling back overpayments made to private health insurance plans in Medicare. With such overpayments, Medicare has become more expensive for all beneficiaries as everyone has had to chip in. Bill believes that private insurance companies should be held accountable. Considering Congress voted to bring in private companies into Medicare with the goal of saving money, these companies should be able to operate efficiently without extra payments.
Just as Medicare’s solvency was extended by health care reform, Bill believes that Members of Congress can come together to similarly extend the Social Security program with common sense solutions. Continually working for the protection of Social Security, Bill has fought against efforts to privatize the program. Privatization means that your Social Security funds that you earned over a lifetime of work would be placed in the private market and subject to its volatility. In 2005, President Bush and many Republicans in Congress proposed to privatize Social Security. Considering many seniors lost part of their retirement savings when the market fell, had Social Security been privatized, these seniors would have faced poverty. Luckily, due to the united opposition to privatization in 2005, no one lost a penny in Social Security benefits.
Regarding long term care, Bill has recognized the changing needs of seniors over the years and supports new ways to provide the best for our elders. For the majority of seniors who choose not to live in an institutional setting, Bill has been a strong proponent of community-based care through Medicaid so that states can provide a range of services from coordinated health care to social and housing services in order to promote independence and healthy aging in place. Also, an important part of maintaining independence is mobility. After serving on the House Transportation Committee for ten years, Congressman Pascrell is a strong supporter of increasing transportation access and opportunities for seniors.
Bill understands that for seniors, these are difficult economic times. To help seniors during the recession, Bill worked with his colleagues to pass the Recovery Act. This legislation gave a $250 payment directly to seniors in 2009, added $100 million to senior meals programs, and invested $120 million in community service jobs for seniors. As a senior himself, Bill understands the varying needs of senior citizens in Passaic and Essex County. Bill has a strong record on voting for seniors issues and is committed to protecting their interests. Most recently, in joining a new Seniors Task Force in the Congress, Bill hopes to push for legislation to make sure seniors receive a cost-of-living adjustment increase for 2011.