By Tom Price
Chairman of the House Budget Committee
July 30, 2015
Today marks 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Social Security Amendments of 1965, creating Medicare and Medicaid. For five decades, seniors, as well as those with long-term illnesses, disabilities or limited means have relied on these programs for access to health care. American workers have paid taxes with the understanding that if or when the time comes, Medicare and Medicaid would be there for them.
For today’s workers and those who will enter the workforce in the years to come, that arrangement is no longer sustainable. According to the latest Trustees Report, Medicare’s trust fund will go insolvent in 2030. Meanwhile, many Medicaid enrollees are having trouble gaining actual access to physicians and treatments. They have health coverage without health care.
This status quo is untenable, and that is unfair to the American people. It’s unfair to today’s Medicaid beneficiaries, seniors on Medicare, and those nearing retirement. It is unfair to millions of today’s workers and those getting ready to enter the workforce who are going to be putting their hard-earned tax dollars into a broken system.
So something has to change. But where to begin?
For about as long as there has been a Medicare or Medicaid program, there has been a vocal opposition to anything approaching a solution that might improve the programs or make them financially sustainable. It is counterintuitive, but favoring the status quo – which is unsustainable and harmful to beneficiaries – is actually considered politically safer than trying to save and strengthen these programs. Then again, common sense has never been particularly popular in Washington.
The only way to realize positive change is to first build a coalition in favor of reform, and that is precisely what we at the House Budget Committee have committed ourselves to accomplishing. We have begun an initiative called “Restoring the Trust for All Generations.” Our aim is to bring the facts to the American people; to bring together those who are invested in preserving these critical health and retirement programs; and to engage those who have serious concerns about the fiscal challenges inherent in these programs.
Read the full op-ed at IJReview.com