As the nation prepares for the November election and debates, health care news and concerns are understandably dominated by COVID-19. Amid the pandemic, the Center for Medicare Advocacy urges candidates to remember the increased need for health care coverage and access to care. Specifically, don’t forget that Medicare remains the primary source of health care coverage for 62 million older people and people with disabilities.
Candidates should answer the call to preserve and improve the core Medicare program and those it serves. Voters need answers to the following questions:
- Payroll Tax Cuts – The President has announced a temporary suspension of payroll taxes that fund the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds, and said he wants to make the cuts permanent, which could lead to the de-funding of these programs. Are you in favor of defunding Social Security and Medicare? If elected, what are you going to do to stabilize Medicare and Social Security for current and future generations?
- Privatization – Private “Medicare Advantage” plans cost taxpayers more money than traditional Medicare and include less choice of health care providers. Are you in favor of increasing privatization of Medicare?
- Covid-19 – The Federal Government’s hands-off approach to regulating nursing homes has been widely reported as contributing to the loss of life in these facilities from COVID–19. What will you do to enhance nursing home infection-control rules and staffing requirements, and to protect residents, staff, and their families?
- Drug Pricing – During the last campaign, President Trump said he favored allowing Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs in the way that the V.A. does because it would save billions for taxpayers, Medicare, and Medicare beneficiaries. The House of Representatives passed a bill to require this, but the Senate didn’t act. If elected, will you support a bill authorizing Medicare to negotiate drug prices? What will you do to bring down the high costs of prescription drugs for individuals and the Medicare program?
Candidates should not simply repeat talking points. The health care of millions depends on the answers to these questions.