The AFT supports measures that strengthen and expand Medicare, a system that is inextricably linked to a secure retirement for nearly 65 million Americans, including hundreds of thousands of retired AFT members. The AFT champions legislation that improves Medicare coverage and opposes steps to weaken or undermine the effectiveness of the Medicare system.
Despite consistent polling data showing Medicare as one of the country’s most popular federal programs, we have seen various attempts to weaken the program in recent years. A key part of Sen. Rick Scott's (R-FL) 12-point plan to “rescue America” calls for sunsetting "all federal legislation" in five years, forcing Congress to act if it wants to keep federal programs. It also calls on “Congress to issue a report every year telling the public what they plan to do when Social Security and Medicare go bankrupt.”
Even so, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared that "we will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years.” But recently we’ve seen Republicans backtrack on similar statements, including promises on reproductive rights
President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act into law in September 2022, giving Medicare a boost. Several provisions in the bill are aimed at lowering prescription drug costs for Medicare patients. It requires that the government begin to negotiate prices for some of the most popular prescription drugs and mandates that drug manufacturers pay rebates if their prices rise faster than inflation. It also limits Medicare patients' out-of-pocket drug spending to $2,000 a year. Despite the obvious benefits this would bring to seniors, Senators Lankford, (R-OK), Lee (R-UT), Lummis (R-WY), and Rubio (R-FL) have proposed a repeal of these new Medicare savings.
Democrats want to go further and provide Medicare coverage for vision, dental and hearing needs, but need a few more votes to get it done. AFT retirees have joined with the Alliance for Retired Americans to strengthen Medicare and will continue to support efforts that not only hold the line against Republican plans that may shrink Medicare, but also improve Medicare, your healthcare, and your finances.
AFT strongly recommends that you consult with your local or state affiliate before making any changes to your personal Medicare plan.