Below is a joint statement from Judith Stein, executive director, Center for Medicare Advocacy, and Joe Baker, president, Medicare Rights Center, regarding the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
As organizations that share a commitment to promoting access to affordable, high-quality health care for older adults, people with disabilities, and their families, we have significant concerns with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act introduced in the House of Representatives yesterday. This massive tax cut for the wealthy sets the stage for deep cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security in the near future.
Although the changes outlined in the Act are the broadest our tax system has seen in over three decades—with far-reaching implications and profound effects on our nation’s budget—the House aims to rush this bill through within a matter of weeks. Even while the precise provisions of the bill remain in flux, and the Senate has not yet introduced its tax cut bill, the danger to our social safety net is clear.
These tax cuts set up a two-step process: 1) cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations, adding $1.5 trillion to the federal debt over the next decade; 2) use the higher debt—created by the tax cuts—to argue that drastic cuts to our bedrock programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, are necessary. This strategy is not new; some lawmakers regularly repeat tired and inaccurate arguments that Medicare is unaffordable for our country, but this tax cut will create additional pressure to make Medicare beneficiaries pay for newly created debt.
We urge Congress to stop engaging in a rushed and partisan process on issues that affect every American, such as taxes and health reform. Instead, Congress should return to a thoughtful and transparent legislative process that includes public input through hearings and multi-stakeholder meetings. Any tax reform must promote retirement security for all Americans, recognize the high out-of-pocket costs that older adults and individuals with disabilities already pay, and ensure stable revenue for our essential programs. Medicare and Social Security are a promise our nation has made to every American; don’t break that promise.
The Center for Medicare Advocacy (https://www.medicareadvocacy.org) is a national, nonprofit, non-partisan law organization that works to advance access to comprehensive Medicare coverage and quality health care for older people and people with disabilities through legal analysis, education, and advocacy.
The Medicare Rights Center (www.medicarerights.org) is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives.