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New Congress will work to expand Social Security and Medicare

Written by Nancy Altman

The 116th U.S. Congress reflects the diversity of our country better than any previous Congress, with more than a 120 women and more people of color than ever before in history. Nancy Pelosi – the only woman to ever be Speaker of the House — will be speaker again. House Democrats will work to expand Social Security and Medicare as well as improve Medicare to eliminate out-of-pocket costs and cover critical services.

For the first time in nearly 50 years, the Social Security Subcommittee, chaired by Representative John Larson (D-CT), will hold hearings on expanding Social Security. And, for the first time, House Democrats plan to hold hearings on improving and expanding Medicare to everyone, Medicare for All.

These are both issues that are important to Americans, irrespective of party affiliation. Not surprisingly, most of the new members of Congress campaigned on Social Security expansion and Medicare for All.

Medicare for All is not only good for everyone under 65, it would mean a huge benefit expansion for people with Medicare today. It would end the Medicare premiums, deductibles and coinsurance. The premiums alone already eat deeply into people’s  Social Security checks. Medicare for All would also significantly reduce people’s prescription drug costs.

Medicare for All also adds more home health care services that allow people to age in place and nursing home care for those who need it.  

Public hearings on Medicare for All will show its benefits and how it lowers national health care spending. It will show how much more efficient social insurance—Medicare for All–is than commercial insurance. 

Public hearings on Social Security will show that we can expand Social Security if we want. We can afford it. The majority of the public supports it. And, it makes sense as a public policy priority to ensure the financial security of older adults and their families.

The House hearings will expose the vast difference between Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Republicans in Congress and President Trump threaten our economic security. Democrats are working hard to strengthen it. In the words of President Franklin Roosevelt, when he signed Social Security into law, “If…the House of Representatives in this long and arduous session had done nothing more… the session would be regarded as historic for all time.” 

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