Social Security, Medicare, and other earned benefits are paid for by you – with money you put directly into the system. You’ve EARNED them. While many Republicans would rather refer to these programs as “entitlements,” to give the false impression that people are getting something for nothing, make no mistake: these are benefits that you and your neighbors in the 8th District and across the country have paid for and deserve – and we pay into it separate from other taxes. It is not affected by the deficit. We must honor these indispensable national commitments to sound and respectful aging and living with disabilities that define who we are as a country. We must make them work more easily with additional supports – such as Medicaid, affordable housing, and assisted living – for those who are struggling with misfortune, illness, injury, incapacitation, job loss, or poverty. And we must protect pension plans from cuts that devastate those who worked hard their entire lives. Do we want our less fortunate seniors, families, and children to be homeless? Or do we want to live in a morally sound society that takes care of its own? I choose the latter.
As a doctor, I took an oath to help people. As your congresswoman, I will continue to abide by that promise to protect your earned benefits from those who would aim to eliminate, cut, or alter those benefits to the detriment of the people I serve. I will fight to make earned benefits work more efficiently with additional supports. And I will defend policies that provide, protect, and preserve pensions and defined benefits.
My top priorities regarding earned benefits will be:
- Sending the clear message – routinely and repeatedly: “hands off our earned benefits”;
- Protecting Social Security against suspect schemes that would privatize it, turning it from a program that guarantees a secure retirement into one that would benefit the financial giants of Wall Street. Additionally, I will strengthen the program by promoting sensible reforms that will extend the program’s solvency for future generations, as well as extend benefit eligibility for children of retired, disabled, or deceased workers, or people with disabilities;
- Fighting to ensure the solvency of Social Security – such as lifting the cap on Social Security wages – without raising the retirement age;
- Lowering drug prices by empowering Medicare to negotiate for prices that are low and reasonable, while still incentivizing the development of new treatments and cures – without our paying twice, three times, or more for research and development;
- Expanding innovative aspects of Medicare that work, so that the people of the 8th District – especially those in our more rural areas – can more easily get the right care at the right time. This includes expanding telemedicine options like those available to those enrolled in the chronic disease program;
- Improving Medicare for healthy aging by covering eyes, ears, and teeth and raising coverage from 80% to 100% to eliminate the need for expensive supplemental insurance;
- Modernizing fraud prevention to prevent seniors from being taken advantage of or used as pawns by dishonest providers, protecting seniors from identity theft and other financial scams, and putting more money back into the system;
- Supporting those families who care for seniors at home, reducing bureaucratic barriers to smoother transition to assisted living when needed and ensuring that critical Medicaid dollars that support our seniors in nursing homes are not cut;
- Ensuring the efficiency and solvency of the Social Security Disability Insurance by streamlining processes, reducing waiting periods, instituting improved fraud and incorrect payment checks, increasing allowances for families to set up more stable back-up supports for those with disabilities, and making it easier and less risky for those looking to return to work;
- Opposing any legislation or regulatory changes that would limit or negatively impact pensions and defined benefits. Additionally, I will support pension guarantee funds like the Pension Protection Act that take measures to protect pensions from going broke or otherwise not paying their beneficiaries. I will also oppose raising Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) premiums as a way to fix years of miscalculations in the way multi-employer pension plans have been set up and managed. Retirees cannot be expected to shoulder reduced benefits and workers cannot be expected to reduce current take-home wages to fix these miscalculations – and none of us can afford to artificially pit workers against retirees.