Looks To Congressional Negotiations To Protect Seniors
In closely monitoring budget proposals from the White House, the Senate and the House, B’nai B’rith International is concerned protections for the nation’s seniors are being whittled away.
B’nai B’rith is troubled by the administration’s budget proposal, which includes steep goals for Medicare savings and a Social Security cut we have long opposed known as the chained-CPI (Consumer Price Index). This plan would have an immediate as well as a compound negative impact over time on seniors.
With fewer such trouble spots in the Senate budget proposal we are watching the potential House-Senate negotiations closely.
“It’s critical that during the budget process we continue to work toward a sustainable path in a balanced way that maintains a commitment to a bright economic future for the citizens of this country, but without jeopardizing critical programs for older adults and low-income people,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “And despite the partisan divide between each of the proposed budgets, the administration and lawmakers cannot lose sight of the many lives that will be affected by their decisions.”
The White House released its budget April 10. House and Senate versions came out in March.
“These budgets are not perfect for seniors, and all raise serious concerns for low-income folks, but we are primarily concerned with funding for Medicare and Medicaid, for domestic programs like housing and with making sure Social Security benefits aren’t cut and the program isn’t used for deficit reduction,” said B’nai B’rith International Associate Executive Vice President Mark D. Olshan. “The House budget included elements we have repeatedly rejected, including an essentially vouchered-version of Medicare and steep, unsustainable cuts to domestic programs. The president’s budget has fewer problems but real trouble spots for seniors.”
B’nai B’rith International was surprised and disappointed to see that the White House budget includes a Social Security cut for current and future beneficiaries in the form of the chained-CPI, or a “COLA cut” as it is more commonly known. This cumulative benefit cut is a regressive and unnecessary change to Social Security.
“Social Security benefits are already modest and do not contribute to the deficit,” B’nai B’rith International Director of Aging Policy Rachel Goldberg said. “Social Security must be secured for the future without jeopardizing its purpose—to provide the only stable base of retirement income in this country, keeping our elders out of poverty.”
While there are good reforms in the president’s Medicare changes and elsewhere in his budget, the overall health savings package would risk cost-shifting to beneficiaries.
We encourage the House and Senate to move forward by appointing conferees. The result, after bipartisan negotiation, could be a final product that allows us to move forward toward a real 2014 fiscal year budget unfettered by the clumsy patchwork of the past few years.