Keeping Our Promises to the “Greatest Generation”
Our nation owes a huge debt to our senior citizens, whose very blood, sweat, and tears, put the money in the coffers, the food on the plate and provided us with the future that we are enjoying today. It is our obligation to ensure that they have access to good, affordable, health care, and that they receive the benefits they were promised and which they paid for with each dollar earned and sent to the federal government.
Social Security payments in recent years have exceeded the amount of Social Security payroll taxes collected, however, due to interest the overall assets in the trust fund have grown during the same time period. Some changes will be necessary to ensure the long-range solvency of the trust funds but for now there are sufficient funds to pay out all the projected benefits until at least 2033. We need to take the time to develop sensible changes that will ensure the continued viability of this important program. In the meantime, I believe that all workers who have paid into this system should receive the full benefits they have been promised.
It angers me to hear my fellow Alaskans recount stories of how they were turned away from doctors when they were in need of care because Medicare continues to reimburse physicians below actual medical costs. This is unacceptable and due in large part to the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, which threatens Medicare doctors every year with large cuts to reimbursement rates. Each year, Congress steps in at the last minute to delay these cuts for another year but we need to find a permanent solution to fully repeal the SGR formula and create a new system which guarantees stable reimbursement rates to all doctors who accept Medicare patients, and bonus payments for providers who provide above average patient care.