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|State of California (Placer, El Dorado, Tuolumne, Calaveras, Amador, Madera, Mariposa, Nevada, Fresno, Alpine Counties)||November 6, 2012 Election|
Social Security and Medicare
By Jack UppalCandidate for United States Representative; District 4
This information is provided by the candidate
I oppose vouchers for medicare and I oppose privatizing social security. Instead, I favor strengthening both of these systems, and I discuss below how I would do that.Social security and medicare are safety nets we have built into our society to provide an income base and basic health care for retirees. But, as our senior population enjoys a longer life expectancy, as health care costs rise, and as more baby boomers enter retirement, these two systems face funding challenges as income from social security and medicare taxes is not able to keep up with expenses.
There are three basic solutions possible. One is to cut, or limit expenses these programs have. A second is to cut services or benefits paid out by these programs, and a third is to bring more income into these programs.
I believe that a strong and vital social security and medicare system is necessary for our nations economic growth and security. The alternatives to these programs put more burden on middle income families to care for parents and senior family members, thus taking more out of our economy. Furthermore, seniors have contributed into these programs all of their working lives, and it would be basically unfair to deny or reduce these benefits when they reach retirement age.
One approach out there is to replace medicare with vouchers with which seniors are expected to purchase private medical insurance. I am opposed to this. Data indicates that vouchers would be insufficient for purchasing insurance, and furthermore, the thought of requiring seniors at age 65, 75, or 85 to go out and find their own private insurance is scary and full of opportunities for unscrupulous companies to take advantage of our seniors. It also breaks the promise made to seniors when they were working- that they would get basic medical care at age 65. I would never place our seniors at risk of losing medicare or social security.
But, we do have to take some expenses out of the system without sacrificing benefits. Currently, about 10% of medicare expenses go for unnecessary tests, for payments for services not provided, and other fraud that does not benefit recipients. I would tighten the rules to reduce the fraud, and also hire more inspectors to clamp down on the waste. We also need to change the system from one that rewards excessive procedures to one that rewards achievement of good health. Our current system pays providers on a per-procedure basis, and this encourages unnecessary tests and shuffling between different doctors- neither of which leads to better health results. This must be changed.
For social security, some would privatize social security and encourage people to invest their retirement income on Wall Street. But the risk of people near retirement losing their retirement income gambling in the market is too great, and the government would be left as the only remaining support for these people. Furthermore, allowing people to gamble their retirement income on Wall Street takes away income needed today to support current retirees. I am opposed to privatizing social security. Instead, our social security system can be entirely fixed and be made solvent for a very long time by simply raising or eliminating the wage cap on social security payments. Currently, only income below about $110,000 is subject to social security taxes. This can, and should be raised, temporarily, as we go through a bubble of retirees.
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