Senior Issues


Social Security

Social Security is probably the most successful public program in our nation’s history.  It is the main life line for seniors, widows and disabled American’s and has served all Americans  well.  Social Security is our nation’s promise to our seniors.  Benefits have been paid on time and in full every single month for more than 70 years. 

    In the 7th Congressional District 12% of the population are recipients of Social Security.  About three fourths of African American seniors rely on Social Security for at least half their income.  Social Security provides 90% or more of total income for 44% of all non-married women 65 and older.  48% of seniors would live in poverty without Social Security benefits.

    Social Security is highly efficient.  On average, less than 0.6 cents of every dollar paid out in Social Security benefits goes to pay administrative costs.  By comparison, systems with individual accounts, like England and Chile cost 15 cents of every dollar paid out in benefits on administrative fees.

    Because of the 1983 fix to Social Security funding we now have more than $2.5 trillion in a trust fund for payment of benefits.  These funds are in the form of bonds which are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States just as other bonds issued by the federal government.  There is no crisis in making these payments or any other bond which is being redeemed.  Social Security has funding for more than 35 years with no reduction in benefits.  Even if we do nothing, it has funds to pay almost 75% of all benefits after that (that would still be a higher benefit than current retirees receive).   Social Security is more sound today than it has been in much of its almost 70 year history.

    Over the next 75 years, the cost of the Bush Administration tax cuts for just the top 1% of the population would cover almost 90% of the shortfall in projected revenues in the Social Security Trust Fund.  If the ceiling on Social Security taxes were raised to $110,000 to cover 90% of wages (the level set by the Greenspan Commission in 1983) it would eliminate approximately 40% of the projected shortfall.  Because the share of the national income received by workers is now at its lowest level since 1947, the share of the national income subject to the wage tax has also declined arguing for some additional funding to come from non-wage sources.

    The Trustees are projecting that economic growth over the next 75 years will be only half as fast as over the last 75 years.  According to the Trustees, if economic growth remains at the same rate as the past 75 years, Social Security will never become insolvent.  Clearly we have viable options to ensure that Social Security can continue to meet the needs of seniors as far into the future as we can see.

    I strongly oppose any attempts to cut benefits for our seniors or to raise the retirement age.  Privatization will undermine funding for Social Security and place beneficiaries at risk.   I strongly oppose all attempts to privatize Social Security.  I remain confident that with a little good will and honesty this Congress can ensure that Social Security will be solid for generations to come. 

    It is also important to recognize that the real crisis is in the private sector where companies are abandoning their promises and contractual obligations to employees pension funds leaving millions of workers without anticipated retirement income while executive compensation has risen to record levels.

Social Security and Budget Deficits

As a general approach, I favor a balanced budget approach.  However, I believe that Congress must have the flexibility to meet special needs such as war, economic crisis or national disaster.  The problem is further complicated by the fact that we have no national capital budget and no method of accounting for the value of our national public infrastructure.  Even further complicating our spending proposals are major gaps in our accounting system, especially in the largest sector of spending: the military budget.  Finally, we have seen spending and taxing accounting rules altered in highly partisan ways and, in the end, such rules are often “made to be broken” as we have seen over the past decade or so with the farce being made of the de-linking of our authorization and appropriation processes. 

As a practical manner, under existing conditions, I believe it is important to use common sense.  You cannot give the wealthiest Americans vast tax cuts, while cutting the social safety net and waging war on two fronts.  Cutting government as an end in and of itself is not an acceptable or rational program.  The current (and projected) budget shortfalls are largely due to two causes: the need for emergency action to counteract the economic crisis and the continuing threat of increases in the cost of health care.  Spending money on counteracting the economic crisis through unemployment insurance, investment in education, infrastructure and converting to an energy economy based on efficiency and sustainable energy production poses no long term threat to the economy and will be paid back many times as we get the economy growing again. 

Our for-profit based system of health care is placing health care beyond the reach of an ever growing portion of our people and an ever growing share of the costs of the system, the highest in the world, are going to large corporate hospitals and drug companies or toward bureaucratic waste.

I continue to advocate for a National Health Insurance Plan ( I am a co-sponsor of legislation to enable a U.S. National Health Insurance Act.)  Already some 64% of our health care system is financed by public money: federal and state taxes, property taxes, tax subsidies which pay for Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Care, care for public employees and military personnel.  It is estimated (see 1991 GAO report and 1993 CBO report) that this plan would enable us to cover every American with all medical, hospital, dental, mental health, eye care and long term care all within the current national health care budget.  Much of the savings would come from the elimination of wasteful overhead and marketing (Medicare, Medicaid and VA run a fraction of the overhead of private health care – 3% as compared to 15% - 25% for the typical HMO) and from the elimination of excessively high profits.  Physician incomes would be relatively unchanged.  The program shares the risk evenly and fairly over the entire population, is predictable and stable.  Quality of care can be monitored statistically and preventive care is incentivised. Short of such legislation I have supported the next best legislation: the Heath Care Reform Act.  This legislation will help control costs and will provide coverage for some thirty million Americans who now have no insurance.  It will have a positive impact on the deficit.

Regardless of other causes of our budget shortfalls Social Security is not at fault for the deficit.  Social Security has ample funding for decades to come and relatively small changes in funding the Social Security Trust Fund will ensure its solvency indefinitely.  There is no reason to reduce benefits and raise the retirement age for our seniors.  Those who claim that Social Security is the cause of budget deficits or that Social Security is in crisis are either mistaken or are pursuing other agendas. 

Paying for Medicare

Much of the funding for the Health Care Reform Act comes from cutting waste, fraud, and abuse within existing government health programs; ending big subsidies to insurance companies; and increasing efficiency with such steps as coordinating care and streamlining paperwork.  These proposals would take money that is already being spent on health care and re-allocate it toward reforms that lower costs and assure quality affordable health care for all Americans.

Health care reform would also encourage the kinds of reforms we know will save money in the long run: preventive care; computerized record-keeping; and comparative effectiveness studies to expose wasteful procedures and hospitalizations and give doctors the tools to make the right treatments for their patients.

We can't afford not to reform health care. The cost of inaction is too high. Health care spending has grown in recent years three times faster than average wages. Health care costs are currently eating into family budgets, forcing families into bankruptcy, making it hard for businesses to expand and grow, and preventing the government from using your tax dollars to create jobs, improve education, rebuild our infrastructure. Premiums have doubled in this decade. Out of pocket costs for people with insurance have gone up by 32 percent. Businesses are buckling under health care costs. One out of every six dollars in this country is spent on health care. Soon it will be one in five. If we do nothing, in 30 years, one third of this country's economic output will be tied up in the health care system. Health care is the fastest-growing item in the federal budget. It is absolutely unsustainable. These costs are crushing families and businesses, keeping wages flat, stunting our economic growth, strangling our government. 

Physician Access for Medicare Beneficiaries

Congressman Davis was (and remains) a strong supporter of the Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act (HR 3961), companion legislation to the Affordable Health Care for America Act. This bill was writen to prevent a 21 percent cut in Medicare physician payment rates scheduled for January 2010.  Instead of temporarily overriding the cut as Congress has done six times before, H.R. 3961 would replace the broken Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, correcting a decade of Republican mismanagement of the Medicare program with a permanent, sustainable solution.  Ultimately, the legislation protects access to physicians for Medicare beneficiaries and members of the military and their families since physician payment rates in TRICARE are tied to those used by Medicare.
 
Congressman Davis supports legislation which will maintain physician access for Medicare beneficiaries which:
 
    *  Preserves seniors' access to their doctors with a guaranteed updates and replaces the pending fee cuts in future years with an update based on the Medicare economic index while a new payment system is being put in place.

    * Provides fairer growth targets to keep doctors' pay steady. Wipes away accumulated deficits from current spending targets to provide for a fresh start, but still holds physicians accountable for spending growth. Excludes items not paid under the Medicare physician fee schedule such as chemotherapy drugs and laboratory services from revised growth targets.

    * Promotes primary care that can keep you healthier longer. Provides an extra growth allowance for primary care services to promote access to primary care practitioners in Medicare and throughout the health care system.

    * Encourages integrated care so your doctors communicate on your care. Encourages the formation of Accountable Care Organizations which incentivize physicians to take responsibility for improving quality and reducing costs. Accountable Care Organizations may "opt out" of the national spending targets and establish their own organization-specific targets.


 



 

 

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    repName Danny K. Davis  
    helpWithFedAgencyAddress Chicago District Office
    2813-15 W. Fifth Avenue
    Chicago, Illinois 60612
     
    district 7th District of Illinois  
    academyUSCitizenDate July 1, 2017  
    academyAgeDate July 1, 2017  
    academyApplicationDueDate October 20, 2017  
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    repDistrict 7  
    repState Illinois  
    repDistrictText 7th  
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