Social Security and Medicare are vital programs which must be strengthened and put on a sound fiscal basis. The reality is, however, that demographic changes are having a profound impact on the solvency of Social Security and Medicare. People are living longer and fewer people are entering the workplace. In 2010, for the first time, Social Security paid out more money than it collected. The most recent projections from the Social Security Administration are that the Social Security trust fund will run out of money by 2033. Similarly, Medicare is projected to be bankrupt by 2024.
To make sure that senior citizens continue to receive their benefits in the future, there must be comprehensive reform which should be done in a bipartisan manner, while ensuring that anyone who is on Social Security and Medicare, or will be joining these programs in the next 10 years, will have all their benefits maintained. This will not be easy but if we do not address the significant structural problems facing Social Security and Medicare, these programs will be irreparably damaged.
Nationwide, many physicians are restricting the number of Medicare patients they see because Medicare reimbursements do not adequately cover their cost. Without permanent reform of the physician fee payment schedule, seniors on Medicare will have limited access to care. It is essential that we reform physician payments in order to make sure that Medicare beneficiaries have access to their doctors.
I am also working to keep durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs, orthotics and prosthetics available under Medicare and to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries have access to physical and occupational therapy services. As you may know, Medicare has set arbitrary caps that prevent some beneficiaries from obtaining the rehabilitation services they require. That is why I support the permanent removal of these caps and allow patients to access the care they need.