Social Security and Medicare Forum at Tufts

On October 3, 2012, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

Panelists discuss Social Security and Medicare at Tufts Forum. Left to right: Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, Massachusetts Secretary of Elder Affairs, Ann Hartstein, Congressman Michael Capuano, Christie Hager, Director of Health and Human Services for the New England Region, Associate Professor Raymond R. Hyatt PhD., Director of Government Relations and Policy for the National Committee for the Preservation of Social Security and Medicare, Dan Adcock.~Photo by Terence Clarey

By Terence Clarey

Education was the goal of a forum presented by Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare last Friday at the Cohen Auditorium in the Aidekman Center for the Arts on the campus of Tufts University. The discussion, which was moderated by Mayor Curtatone, consisted of a panel of speakers answering questions about Social Security and Medicare, discussing possible changes in the programs, and highlighting the urgency of maintaining these programs.

The panel consisted of Massachusetts Secretary of Elder Affairs, Ann Hartstein, United States Congressman Michael Capuano, Democrat, representing the Eighth Congressional District of Massachusetts, Christie Hager, Director of Health and Human Services for the New England region, Associate Professor Raymond R. Hyatt PhD., Medical Sociologist from the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at the Tufts University School of Medicine, and Director of Government Relations and Policy for the National Committee for the Preservation of Social Security and Medicare, Dan Adcock.

Secretary Hartstein led off the discussion by stressing the importance of Social Security to recipients saying, “Right now Social Security provides 90% of income for 3 out of 10 people.”

Congressman Capuano gave impassioned support for Social Security and Medicare. “It was a great and difficult fight to adopt Social Security and it was a great and difficult fight to adopt Medicare and it’s been a great and difficult fight to keep both of them. I don’t want to lose it for the next generation.”

Christie Hager, representing the HHS Secretary Kathryn Sebelius and by extension the Obama Administration, touted the achievements made by the Administration, saying there was, “Historic good news about Medicare,” adding, “These historic benefits include discounts in prescription drugs, in the donut hole,” and preventative services. “[By] keeping you well before you need more costly and more risky medical care.” Hager also stated that her agency along with the Department of Justice has, “Recovered over 10 billion dollars in four years in fraudulent claims.” This in the last four years.

Professor Hyatt discussed how the argument concerning Social Security and Medicare has been framed and the societal benefits of the programs. “‘Entitlements’ has kind of become a bad word,” Hyatt said, adding, “An entitlement is something that you’ve earned; something you’re entitled to by participation by a group or class, having paid into (Social Security and Medicare).”

Hyatt said these entitlements, particularly Medicare, are good for society because they have extended life expectancy, and lowered healthcare delivery costs due to low overhead costs like excess paper work, higher salaries and administrative costs that push up the cost of private healthcare. “Costs of delivering Medicare is far lower than the cost of delivering private healthcare,” he said, adding that it is about 1/3 less.

Dan Adcock discussed his organization’s goal of putting forth information about the programs and discussed some of the proposals to cut spending that would adversely affect these programs. “I believe that you deserve to know about plans likely to be considered (by Congress) after the elections and how the plans will affect you.”

Adcock discussed how some of the proposals in Congress, most notably how Republican Vice-Presidential Nominee Paul Ryan’s recent Congressional budget plans containing cuts to Social Security and a voucher system in place of the current Medicare system, would end Medicare as is and privatize it raising costs to the recipients by as much as “$6,000 per year.”

These concerns were evident during the Question and Answer session as many voiced enthusiastic support for the programs and wondered aloud how some members of Congress were advocating deep cuts in both programs. Congressman Capuano said he couldn’t explain the opposition to maintaining the current system but said of opponents, “They’re decent people. They’re just wrong.”

Mayor Curtatone hoped that this forum and others like it would help to educate voters on the need for Social Security and Medicare.

“It was very informative. Very good,” said one audience member echoing the sentiments of those milling around the lobby after the event. Asked how he felt the forum went, Mayor Curtatone repeated the positive sentiments of many in the audience. “There are so many questions and [so much] confusion,” he said. “This was an effort to provide clear and accurate information.”




5 Responses to “Social Security and Medicare Forum at Tufts”

  1. A Moore says:

    Here is a system so abused I would think that if they policed it properly from the start we would not have a big a problem as we do. So many undeserving people are callecting disability who are prefectly healthy and many who can work. They just made it so easy. I see a lot of this and it would seem that to hire the extra people it would take to do this would mean a huge savings to the system. It was meant for people who need it. The donut hole is a problem. So I only take certain medications for half of the year as the money runs out. I just live without it as I can’t afford them. I have to wait until 2013 to be able to take them again. There are those who should be getting more of what the system has to offer but they are just too proud to ask. There are also a problem with medicare for seniors who get too many things they should not because they hide their money so well. Maybe this would not solve the problem but would take a chunk out of what’s going out. It’s just given away too freely. Let.s give it to the right people.

  2. Ray Spitzer says:

    Is it just me? Curtatone in this small picture looks like Obama. Odd.

  3. Dennis Byron says:

    I hope all the government employees on this list were not getting paid their government salaries while running this Obama re-election event.

    Hartstein has turned Elder Affairs into an Obama re-election organization. Follow the bouncing ball on her ridiculous statistic: “Three out of 10 seniors depend on Social Security for 90% of their income.” One and a half out of 10 seniors are low income (15%) so that it is a useful statistic. But that includes people who have spent down to go into nursing homes, etc. But the other one and a half out of 10 seniors that Hartsteing is trying to use to manipulate you do not depend on income at all; they depend on their savings in their retirement. They are among the most well off of us seniors.

    Capuano is just mouthing Democratic Party lies. He already runined Medicare for the next generation when he fought against the Part C reform and the new Part D program in 2003 and when he voted to take $700 billion out of Medicare in 2010 (2013-2022; more as window moves out) to give healthcare insurance to non-seniors.

    The Obama administration spokesperson repeated the tired claims about the donut hole which affects so few of us in Massachusetts because of Prescription Advantage. But he or she never mentions that the drug discounts so far come from the drug companies not the government because of a closed-door deal made with the Obama administration secretly in order to get the drug business of the non-seniors that will be paid for with Medicare money.

    The left wing professor repeats the lie about the great efficiency of Medicare without mentioning the inconvenient statistic from Dr. Berwick that Medicare wastes 20% to 30% of what it spends (or its fraud or abuse). More administration would actually cut that number but that would ruin the Democratic party talking point.

    The left wing community organizer repeated the long disproven Democratic party lie about reform raising seniors’ costs $6000 a year and the favorite Democratic Party trick of comparing Medicare premium support to food stamps

    Again I hope none of these people drew a dime of taxpayer money while they were running this Obama re-election event

  4. Meme says:

    Echo chamber of yes men. If they truly cared about education then some people with different opinions would have been nice. SS and Medicaid does some great things, but there are huge issues with it in its current state, and even more so if you look at a 50 year horizon, when a large majority of Somerville residents will be looking to cash in on their investment into these programs.

    So many obvious issues with what they said its not even worth it, but some of the basic ones

    – “Costs of delivering Medicare is far lower than the cost of delivering private healthcare,” Valid point. The cost of delivering zero health care is far lower then the cost of delivering private health care. That does not make it a good idea.

    -Congressman Capuano said he couldn’t explain the opposition to maintaining the current system but said of opponents, “They’re decent people. They’re just wrong.”
    Really? Cant think of one issue with a program and will go broke in the life time of many of its current recipients, let alone those that are paying in now, expecting the benefits in the future? The program is perfect, and you cant think of any way to improve it? Dont know Capuano, but is he really that dumb or just unable to think for himself and willing to toe the party line?

  5. j. connelly says:

    You have those in favor and those against. Unfortunately SOME of those in favor, play the system while the majority worked hard, PAID into it and now worry that it wont be there.

    You have those against, who are rightly upset about those who play the system. Then you have SOME against who do not have to worry financially about coverage and do not want anyone to have coverage.

    The REAL problem is the politicians, who historically have mismanaged taxpayer dollars for decades. The politicians know how to spend but never how to save, (only when it comes to their own personal accounts).

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