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All citizens need to be part of Social Security, Medicare solutions

Our young people in southwest Oklahoma and throughout the state and nation need to become more aware of events out in the real world. We understand they are working to complete their higher educations, expand technology skills, raise families and pay bills. Often, there are few funds left for rest and relaxation. We baby boomers had that same experience. Yes, it is tough for many years.

But skimming just above the surface is the issue of solvency of Social Security and Medicare. It is frightening. All of us need to make the Washington establishment aware that we understand the issues and demand input on reform. The reform could well hit our younger people in the wallet.

Some of Social Security’s problems date back to the Vietnam War when the administrations robbed and swapped the cash for IOUs.

A report was released last week on the solvency on the giant safety net programs. It says Social Security will be insolvent in 2034, while Medicare will become insolvent in 2026. The two programs are funded by payroll taxes paid by both the employer and employee for both programs.

The treasury department says there is ample time to fix the problem and the programs remain secure, and Medicare is on track to meet its obligations well into the next decade.

Then came the kicker in the news release. 

“However, certain long-term issues persist. Lackluster growth in previous years, coupled with an aging population, has contributed to the projected shortages for Medicare and Social Security.”

It the past is any indication of possible future solutions, they will include raising payroll taxes, raising the retirement age again, refusing to raise Social Security’s pensioners’ checks, and further reducing reimbursements to health care providers, such as doctors and hospitals.

Raising the payroll tax is a jobs killer, because it will encourage employers to automate and consolidate or find other ways to reduce labor costs, such as raising health care premiums or reducing other benefits. The working young people will find fewer job opportunities and smaller paychecks. 

Meanwhile, health care providers may be forced to accept lower reimbursement payments from Medicare. Many are being squeezed very hard now, and more may just decide to limit or decline Medicare assignments or patients. They can opt out.

Solutions? They are unknown. But because of the deterioration of Medicare’s financial health, President Trump — after submitting his next budget — is required by law to send a plan to Congress next year with his prescription for Medicare’s recovery.

That means it’s time for all of us to join the conversation about the possible reforms. The timing is perfect because federal legislators and challengers are running for office now. It’s time to get up to speed on Social Security and Medicare challenges and make your voice heard.

— The Lawton Constitution

The Lawton Constitution

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