Social Security and Medicare:
Social Security and Medicare are two of the most successful domestic programs in our nation's history. For seventy years, Social Security has provided basic economic security that families could rely on in times of need and has meant independence for generations of Americans. As a former member of the board of a Massachusetts-based community health plan, I also understand how important it is to ensure that Medicare continues to guarantee health care coverage for millions of Americans and people with long term disabilities.
Protecting the promise of Social Security. I am absolutely committed to strengthening Social Security so that our national contract with American workers endures for generations to come. According to the Congressional Budget Office, in the next decade, Social Security's benefit payments will exceed its receipts from the public. The current economic downturn has placed an even heavier burden on the Trust Fund and its projected ability to pay Social Security benefits without a change in law. Many proposals have been put on the table to deal with this issue and I will be working with my colleagues to ensure that the solvency of the Trust Fund stays intact, now and in the future.
Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision. I am a proud cosponsor of the Social Security Fairness Act, which would ensure that dedicated firefighters, police officers, teachers, and other public servants are no longer deprived of a portion of their Social Security benefits each year as a result of the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). The WEP currently reduces Social Security benefits for workers who have pension benefits from employers not covered by Social Security. The GPO reduces Social Security spousal benefits if the recipient has another government pension based on work not covered by Social Security. In addition to Massachusetts, there are 26 states that have public retirees and employees who are disadvantaged by either the GPO or the WEP. The Fairness Act allows these employees to retire with the benefits they have rightfully earned throughout the course of their careers.
Opposing risky proposals to privatize Social Security. I strongly object to proposals to privatize Social Security and oppose diverting any amount of Social Security payroll taxes into private, individual investment accounts. Private individual accounts take money from the Trust Fund, compromising its solvency while putting retiree benefits at serious risk. During the devastating recession of the last few years, volatility in the stock market has severely damaged private retirement savings accounts like 401(k)s. The same would have been true of Social Security accounts had previous proposals to privatize been allowed to go through. Instead, retirees received their benefits as they always have. We cannot afford to replace a guarantee with a gamble. I will continue to stand against efforts to privatize Social Security and will work to ensure that it is available to the next generation.
Ensuring Medicare is available to seniors for decades to come. I have consistently voted to prevent cuts in payments to physicians under Medicare, ensuring that Medicare beneficiaries will continue to have access to physicians' care. We must ensure that physicians are able to accept the insurance that seniors in our country rely on day after day, and I will continue to support initiatives designed to preserve the vital coverage Medicare provides for seniors so that this program can continue to provide accessible and affordable health care to millions.
Protecting Medicare through health care reform. In March of this year, I voted in favor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the bill to reform our system of health care, which made several improvements to the Medicare program and extended its solvency. This bill closes the prescription drug "donut hole" and ensures that all seniors who fall into this prescription drug coverage gap receive a $250 check in the mail to help them until the donut hole is gone for good. The new law also ensures that Medicare fully covers preventive benefits such as checkups, vaccines, and preventive tests.