Safeguarding Social Security and Medicare, and Fulfilling Our Commitments to Senior Citizens
With more than 16 percent of its population over 65, Rhode Island has one of the highest proportions of seniors in the country. Senator Reed believes that we must meet the unique needs of older Americans and protect the programs that they paid into, like Social Security and Medicare.
Senator Reed is committed to ensuring that Social Security remains strong and viable for millions of Americans. Today, nearly 220,000 Rhode Islanders receive Social Security benefits. Throughout his career, Reed has repeatedly voted to keep Social Security on sound financial footing and strongly opposes efforts to privatize the program or use it to pay for new tax breaks. He successfully fought efforts to use the Chained CPI to determine cost-of-living adjustments, which would have cut Social Security benefits.
Given its structure and design, Social Security cannot contribute to the federal deficit. Senator Reed has worked to protect the Social Security Trust Fund from being diverted to other programs or used for government spending. To help stabilize the Trust Fund for future generations, Reed supports including annual income above $117,000 in the wage base for Social Security contributions to help ensure that high-income earners contribute a fair share to the system. That kind of step points Social Security toward even stronger financial solvency.
Senator Reed strongly believes we must encourage more personal savings and investment for retirement. However, it should not be at the expense of Social Security, the one program that offers stable, guaranteed income security to the elderly, disabled, widows, and children of deceased or disabled workers.
He also vigorously opposes the Republican plan to dismantle Medicare and Medicaid. Ending Medicare as we know it would destroy people’s ability to pay their bills and save for retirement, college tuition, or anything but the medical insurance they will need as they get older. In fact, Reed supported the Affordable Care Act (ACA) because it makes key improvements to Medicare that strengthen its long-term solvency and increase benefits. The ACA also increases access to the Medicaid program, which provides critical long term and nursing home care to seniors.
Reed knows how important it is for retirees to be able to access care. He is committed to giving better certainty to Medicare patients and providers by ensuring that doctors are fairly reimbursed under Medicare. At the same time, he also knows how important it is to prevent poor care and fraud under Medicare, and has supported efforts to prevent them and make sure those who commit such crimes are held accountable.
Senator Reed also supports programs that allow older Americans to maintain their independence and contribute to their communities, like home-delivered meals initiatives, the Senior Community Service Employment program, and the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program, which provides affordable housing options for certain low-income seniors.
Key Priorities & Accomplishments
- Reed helped author key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which is helping to close the Medicare prescription drug “doughnut hole” and is providing Medicare beneficiaries with free preventive services, like vaccines and cancer screenings. As of the end of 2013, Rhode Island seniors have saved more than $31 million on prescription drug costs as a result of the ACA. And Reed believes that the government should be able to make prescription drugs more affordable by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices with big drug companies.
- Reed opposes efforts to cut Social Security and Medicare as a means to reduce the deficit.
- Reed believes that hard-working government employees should be recognized for their service and not penalized by the Social Security benefit calculation formula. For this reason, he supports legislation to repeal the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision under Social Security.
- Senator Reed has supported efforts to ensure that the Social Security Administration receives the resources necessary to help process claims more rapidly and reduce backlogs in the claims determination process.
- To help make it easier for Americans to save for retirement on their own, Reed has supported pension portability initiatives, so workers won’t lose their pension if they change jobs.
- Concerned about high out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries, Reed supports legislation to repeal Medicare’s cap on outpatient therapy services and a bill to ensure that those who are hospitalized under “observation status” are eligible for Medicare-covered, skilled-nursing-facility treatment after their discharge.
- Reed has consistently worked with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to ensure that Rhode Island’s hospitals receive fair reimbursements for treating Medicare patients.
- Reed helped close the Medicare Part D prescription drug “doughnut hole,” which left seniors without coverage for a large portion of their prescription drug costs and backed provisions of the ACA to provide Medicare beneficiaries with free preventive services, like vaccines and cancer screenings. As a result of these reforms, thousands of Rhode Islanders have saved more than $70 million since 2010.
Read more by visiting Senator Reed's Working for RI page.