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When President Joe Biden announced new legislation at a White House event on Tuesday that will lower Medicare drug prices, he also vowed to protect both Medicare and Social Security in the face of what he called Republican attacks on the programs.
“I will protect those programs, I will make them stronger,” Biden said. “And I’ll cut your costs to keep them.”
The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act gives Medicare the ability to negotiate the prices of prescription drugs. It also limits the maximum beneficiaries will pay for prescription drugs under the program to $2,000 per year. The cost of insulin for patients covered by Medicare is also capped at $35 per month.
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While the president stopped crafting his own specific prescription to save Social Security, he also objected to the GOP’s plans for the program, which can only continue to pay full benefits for an estimated 13 years, subject to legislative action.
Those include a plan by Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida calling for the termination of government programs such as Medicare and Social Security every five years, as well as a proposal by Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin calling for annual renewal of the programs. to evaluate. Those moves would put the programs “on the chopping block,” Biden said.
“Democrats may have broken a record for the number of lies told about me in one day,” Johnson said tweeted on Tuesday. “I want to save Social Security, Medicare and Veterans benefits.”
A spokeswoman for Scott pointed to a recent interview where he said his plan would help ensure people get their Social Security benefits.
Biden also pointed to a Republican budget proposal “that will reduce health care and Social Security,” he said.
The president’s comments come as leaders on both sides of the aisle have increasingly exchanged barbs over plans for the program in the run-up to the November election.
Supporters for expanding Social Security have been vocal in their rejection of Republican plans for the program.
“Saying we want it to go down after five years, that’s not responsible, because what are you going to do?” said Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works, adding that it’s not clear whether they would vote for, vote against, or change the program.
“That’s just a process, and you hide behind the process,” she said. “It’s clear what the process will be, what undermines the program.”
A missed opportunity?
President Joe Biden makes remarks about cutting health care costs at a White House Rose Garden event on September 27, 2022.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Democrats have put forward their own plans to expand benefits while imposing additional payroll taxes on the wealthy to pay for those increases.
That includes a popular Democratic House proposal called Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust, which would advocate for more generous benefits and reintroducing payroll taxes on wages over $400,000.
Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., also have their own proposal to raise taxes for those with incomes of $250,000 and above.
Meanwhile, House lawmakers also recently considered a bipartisan bill to repeal rules that reduce benefits for officials.
Biden praised similar Social Security reforms during his presidential campaign, though he has not endorsed any specific plans for the program as president.
“The president has always understood that millions of Americans depend on Social Security and have contributed to the program since their first job as a teenager,” White House Assistant Press Secretary Robyn Patterson told CNBC.com.
“That’s why he’s committed to protecting Social Security and fighting the efforts of Congressional Republicans to put it on the chopping block year after year,” he said.
The president’s speech on Tuesday was a missed opportunity, said Maya MacGuineas, chair of the committee on a responsible federal budget.
“Unfortunately, the president used his speech to attack his political opponents on the issue, rather than put forward his own specific plan to secure Social Security, something he has failed to do over the course of his administration.” MacGuineas said in a statement.
Specific plans from both sides are needed to secure the future of both Social Security and health care, she said. Experts say both sides must work together and compromise to make changes to the program.
“By leading a historic economic recovery that has expanded the trust fund, and by fighting to give the Social Security Administration the resources it needs to effectively deliver benefits, President Biden is helping to ensure that Social Security can continue to provide Americans with the peace of mind they deserve,” he said. patterson.
The benefits will be more generous next year
Even amid uncertainty about the future of Social Security, beneficiaries can expect bigger monthly checks next year.
Due to high inflation, estimates show the cost of living adjustment to Social Security will be the highest in decades, according to The Senior Citizens League.
The The latest estimate from the unbiased senior group points to a COLA of 8.7% for 2023. Another month of consumer price index data will come in before the official bump for next year is announced by the Social Security Administration.
Reduced premiums for Medicare Part B, which covers outpatient care, will be cut by about 3% next year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Tuesday.
The standard monthly premium is $164.90 in 2023, down from $170.10 this year. Because those premiums are often deducted directly from Social Security checks, beneficiaries will be ready to take home more money.
“During this time of rising prices, there will be a substantial adjustment in the cost of living and a cut in Medicare premium in January,” Altman said.
In other years, when COLA was smaller and Medicare Part B premiums higher, beneficiaries were less likely to see an increase in their benefits, she noted.
“This is a year where everyone will see an increase,” Altman said.