Just because President Obama signed the debt ceiling deal into law, low-income older Americans have no reason to celebrate. Several of the cuts that were threatened for the Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs were averted in this current round of budget cuts. However, they are likely to be Congressional targets for savings under the guise that there is a major crisis facing all of them.
A strong push by some in Congress to repeal the health reform law, which has many elements that help low-income older adults, is also likely. And, the Supreme Court is poised to hear an important case that could deny Medicaid beneficiaries the right to sue state governments to obtain health care.
Similarly, changing how Social Security benefits are calculated using a chained CPI would target the most vulnerable of America’s elderly. If Congress and the President are serious about this, the message for anyone with Social Security is no money for gas, no money for the bus, then walk.
With more than 4 million older Americans living at or near poverty, now is not the time to jettison or drastically alter programs they need to remain healthy and economically secure. Congress needs to find a balanced approach to ensure that the country does not fail the poorest seniors now or in the future. And, the Supreme Court should not roll back a century of court precedents that allow the elderly poor access to the courts.