What will it take for the United States to get its financial affairs in order and continue funding Medicare and Medicaid so healthcare is provided for millions of Americans well into the future?
Most experts say Medicare will run out of money somewhere between 2016 and 2024. Medicare spending totaled $510 billion for 47 million Americans in 2011, and federal Medicaid spending totaled $290 billion for 58 million Americans in 2010. With a lack of progress surrounding recent bills designed to re-configure taxes and encourage economic growth, and a $17 trillion national debt, it’s easy to see how our country faces an enormous challenge in making Medicare and Medicaid spending sustainable in their current forms.
Can Congress and the president make significant progress this year on issues related to Medicare and Medicaid?
I think that between now and the November election, there will be a lot of talk but little action that the Senate, House and president will agree upon. There will be a lot of positioning, but it will all be based on how it will help candidates in the general election.
To help make my point, the Senate recently decided against requiring millionaires to pay as much of their income in tax as middle-class Americans. Opponents of the “Paying a Fair Share Act of 2012” said that it would hurt small businesses because of huge tax increases for job creators who file their taxes as individuals. The House recently decided to pass the “Small Business Tax Cut,” which makes businesses with fewer than 500 employees eligible for a tax deduction of 20 percent of its income. Those who opposed this bill, which probably won’t become a law either, said it gives an advantage to businesses with fewer than 500 employees with more income, and it might discourage growth for companies near 500 employees.
Your senators and representatives who vote for and against these bills work for you. You are their boss. I believe our elected officials, with your help, can make the right decisions and bring more stability and less acrimony to our country.
In November and December this year, you will see a lot of congressional activity and lawmaking. If you or a loved one is a senior, issues like Medicare, Medicaid, well-being and healthcare should be important to you. You can influence how your elected officials cast their votes, so make sure they hear from you. Share your views on spending, taxes, social issues, defense and other issues that are important to you. If you need help getting in touch with your elected officials, please let me know and I will provide you with their contact information.
Thank you for being a caring American.
By Jeff Stingley
Director of Public Affairs