Medicare and Social Security: Safety Nets are Enormously Important To Our Seniors

By Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper

November 8, 2022

Last week, President Biden visited South Florida and chose Hallandale Beach as one of his stops to discuss policy. It was not an open public event. It was arranged by Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz and the White House staff. Actually, it was pretty last minute. After I received the call on Friday, I was not even sure if I would be able to get back from Tampa in time. Our City Staff led by Chief Michel Michel, Parks Director Cathy Schanz and Human Services Director Cora Daise were the leads on our side.

They worked tirelessly over the weekend with the Secret Service to ensure the entire facility was set up. Staging was set up in the Gymnasium. Two exterior entrances were set up with tents and clearance tables. One in the back off of 6th Street specifically was for the President. The senior auditorium was set up for his first entrance. This was for Elected Officials and special invited guests. I need to make sure everyone knows our Staff had nothing to do with setting up the list. Ironically, I was originally not sure if I could make it and was not on the list that morning. Obviously, as Mayor I was added.

There were approximately 30 VIPs that had the chance to meet the President. He really wanted to see the Staff at our Hepburn Center who had their own private meeting. He wanted to specifically thank them for their work with our seniors. If you read my column last week, I wrote about President Biden's Infrastructure Policy as that is what I understood he was to be discussing. Late Monday, I received a briefing on his presentation which was a focus on Protecting and Strengthening Medicare and Social Security.

There is one true benefit of being involved with the Elected Office for 20 years. I have a good memory when it comes to policy fights on key issues in DC. As I wrote last week about trying for years to get meaningful investments and Infrastructure. In 2009, under President Obama's cities were celebrating as we finally had direct money through the EECBG Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant. In 2021, as part of the BiPartisan Bill, this was renewed along with the major Infrastructure Programs.

Ironically, a year before the first EECBG there was a push under President Bush to privatize Social Security. Then and now, like many other Elected Officials, this would be disastrous for our seniors and those disabled that depend on this income. During that same period, the U.S. was faced with the subprime debacle that put many financial institutions out of business. In 2008, the Housing Crash was a true crisis. Could you imagine if Social Security dollars were put in the hands of the private companies?

I am bringing this up as it was one of the points of President Biden's speech. There is a push now once again to gut many laws by the newly appointed Rick Scott leader of the Republican Senatorial Committee. Cloaked in a Senate Plan to rewrite every law after 5 years, originally wanting 3, Medicare and Social Security would be on a chopping block. “All Federal Legislation sunsets in 5 years. If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again. I do not know about you, but I have worked since I was 15 years old. I have paid into Social Security. I am looking forward to receiving my check when I retire. I certainly do not want it to disappear. Remember this is often the only income retirees and those that cannot work have. This issue is especially important to watch in the next few years.

In addition, Medicare Programs will also be one of those laws. Over the past two years whether you are a Republican or a Democrat as a senior, the Inflation Reduction Act has truly helped you. The biggest win was to cap the cost of Insulin to $35 Dollars. It only costs around $10 Dollars to produce. In addition, seniors will have additional FREE Vaccines including Shingles which cost as much as $200 Dollars per dose. Out of pocket drug costs for seniors will be capped at $2000 Dollars Annually. Any drug company that increases their cost on drugs more than the rate of inflation will be fine with fines going into the Medicare Program. Medicare also will have the authority to negotiate drug prices.

These types of safety nets are enormously important to our seniors and new laws that help put money back into their budgets. I occasionally have discussions with families about these issues. The discussion always comes down to, “What about fraud and exploiting the system?” There are problems, but as the saying goes you do not throw the baby out with the bath water. There needs to be better policing of these programs.

Either way these two big items will be key issues in the coming years. They need to be funded or both are facing insolvency. Let us all hope like last year when the BiPartisan Recovery Act passed a solution that can be found.

We can all hopefully enjoy quiet now that this Election Cycle is over. As of the writing of this article the Election still has a few more days. If it is a close Election, our local results may not be certified for some time. Looking forward to reporting what passed and who was Elected in next week’s article.

As always, feel free to reach out to me with your questions, concerns and ideas to make our City a better place! I can be reached 24/7/365 at my office number: (954) 457-1318. On my cell / text at: (954) 632-5700. Or E-mail me at: jcooper@cohb.org.