The United States needs to create a “new, affordable safety net” of Social Security and Medicare so that future Americans can continue to be protected along with current generations, Governor Mitch Daniels (R-Ind.) said in his rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
After the president’s speech, Daniels fired back that his party’s first concern is for those waiting to “begin or resume the climb up life’s ladder,” and that “we must always be a nation of haves and soon to haves” rather than “haves and have nots.”
Addressing the nation’s economic struggles includes uniting to “save the safety net” of Medicare and Social Security, according to the Indiana governor. The two programs have “served us well, and that must continue,” he says.
“But after half and three quarters of a century respectively, it’s not surprising that they need some repairs. We can preserve them unchanged and untouched for those now in or near retirement, but we must fashion a new, affordable safety net so future Americans are protected, too.”
While it’s true that in the past, the system has been able to send pension checks and cover medical expenses even for the wealthy, this is no longer possible, he continued, and what funding is available should go to the people who need it the most.
“The mortal enemies of Social Security and Medicare are those who, in contempt of the plain arithmetic, continue to mislead Americans that we should change nothing,” Daniels said. “Listening to them much longer will mean that these proud programs implode, and take the American economy with them.”
While the American Health Care Association (AHCA) agrees that the funding approaches for the two programs will need to be tweaked in order to remain sustainable, a spokesperson says that their commonality ends on the means to those policies.
There is a right way and a wrong way to reform Medicare (and Medicaid), says Greg Crist, vice president of public affairs at AHCA, and the “wrong way” is block granting Medicaid, which Republicans have suggested in the past.
President Obama only briefly mentioned the two programs in his State of the Union address, commenting on opinions that the way to tackle the nation’s deficit is to cut “excessive spending,” including in healthcare.
“This means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit,” Obama said in his speech, going on to assert that the health insurance law passed last year would slow costs and help reduce the deficit.
As for Medicare, solutions shouldn’t just rest in cuts, says Crist. Republicans will talk about slowing the growth curve, he says, and AHCA feels that curve “can be slowed while still delivering the same levels or even better care through initiatives such as the site-neutral provision.”
The president’s apparent reticence to speak much on the topic of healthcare reform likely stems from the widespread opposition his party’s plan has met, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be addressed, says Crist; it’s about working smarter with the money that’s been allocated.
“We need to be on the Hill and at the White House continuously reminding policymakers of the important role in the health care continuum we play,” says the AHCA spokesman.
Below is part of Mitch Daniels’ rebuttal; he begins talking about Medicare and Social Security at 6:20.
Written by Alyssa Gerace