By Senator Ben Nelson
I made it a point to stop by an assisted living facility and nursing home last weekend when I was in central Nebraska. It was a very rewarding experience and made me even more certain that Social Security and Medicare must be protected.
As you might expect, Nebraska’s seniors, including those living at the center where I visited, are concerned about a lot of different issues. They write to me on a variety of topics from mining in the Grand Canyon to tax cuts to funding for various agencies.
Social Security Concerns
Many have also have written about Social Security and Medicare, and when asked in person, certainly have an opinion about the ongoing debate. They are concerned that these worthwhile programs will be protected, not only for their generation but for future generations.
Without these programs, many would have no other means of income or be able to pay for a doctor, and they understand that future generations are likely to be financially strapped too, and may have trouble saving for their own retirement.
While I’m committed to balancing the budget, cutting spending, and reducing the national debt, I can’t support efforts that weaken to Social Security and Medicare. These are retirement and health care promises we’ve made to Nebraska seniors and I intend to keep them.
I’m leading a major bipartisan effort right now to strengthen Medicare while saving taxpayer dollars. It makes the Medicare Secondary Payer Program more efficient and cost effective to taxpayers. The SMART Act will significantly improve the efficiency of the current Medicare Secondary Payer system and speed repayment of amounts owed from Medicare beneficiary claims directly to the Medicare Trust Fund.
The SMART Act will create a more streamlined system, which will save taxpayer resources during these tight economic times.
Everyone knows we must get our fiscal house in order, and that begins with cutting spending. It is no secret that Medicare and Social Security contribute to the deficit. One out of every five dollars in the federal budget goes to these programs.
Reduce Costs-Not Benefits
Rather than reduce benefits, we need to reduce healthcare costs, which is critical to the long-term sustainability of Medicare and Social Security.
Rather than cut Social Security and Medicare my vision is to strengthen the economy by reducing the deficit, creating jobs, improving education, and promoting agriculture and rural development which will help the overall financial situation without slashing Social Security or Medicare.
There are also ways to reduce health care costs by promoting prevention, screenings and early detection efforts.
I always read my correspondence and visit with Nebraskans personally whenever I get the chance, like last weekend. It’s always good to seek out the wisdom of older Nebraskans who have so much to offer and it’s very important to me as Washington moves forward on important programs like Social Security and Medicare in order for me not to let you down and make sure your wishes are heard.