FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 13, 2011
Contact: Mary Liz Burns or Kelly Brewington
AARP Statement on 2011 Social Security and Medicare Trustees’ Reports
Report reaffirms that while not in immediate crisis, programs must be strengthened to maintain critical benefits
WASHINGTON – AARP Executive Vice President John Rother offered the following statement in reaction to the Social Security and Medicare Trustees’ reports released today:
“Today’s reports present important news for programs that serve as critical lifelines for millions of older Americans, and demonstrate the need for our elected leaders to strengthen—not undermine—these pillars of financial and health security.
“The Social Security Trustees reaffirm that the program is financially strong for decades to come and can be strengthened for the future with relatively modest adjustments. With pensions, savings, and home equity down, many older workers unable to find jobs; and health costs continuing their upward climb, Social Security’s guaranteed benefits are more crucial than ever.
“The Trustees’ report shows that Social Security can pay full benefits for roughly 25 years, and approximately 75 percent of earned benefits beyond that time even if nothing is done. However, that is not good enough. AARP renews its call on Congress and the Administration to work together to shore up the system’s long-term ability to pay promised benefits to retirees, survivors, and those with disabilities.
“The report also confirms that the Social Security Trust Funds continue to grow. Debt held by the Trust Funds is a real obligation of the United States to its own people, and the American people, like any other creditor, expect that the money borrowed from them by the government will be paid back.
“Unfortunately, rising health care costs and a weakened economy have shortened the life of Medicare’s Hospital Insurance (HI) trust fund. While provisions of the Affordable Care Act are helping to control spending in Medicare, far more must be done to reduce costs throughout the health care system and extend the HI trust fund for the long term.
“AARP believes that if we are serious about addressing rising health costs, we cannot look only to Medicare for solutions. There are steps we can take to improve the entire health care system—including improving patient safety, reducing preventable hospital readmissions, and encouraging delivery system reforms that improve care coordination for patients—that should help to reduce the growth in health costs for Medicare and all Americans.
“Current beneficiaries and those near enrollment can be confident in the ability of both programs to deliver promised benefits for their retirement years. Congress and the President will need to take action to strengthen both programs for the longer term. Reform should focus on making the delivery of health care more efficient and cost effective for all Americans, and addressing the long term financing challenges for Social Security in the context of improving retirement security.
“Americans of all ages have a stake in strengthening these vital programs to assure health and financial security in retirement or when death or disability strikes families.”
For more information, visit www.aarp.org.