Get the facts about federal health and retirement programs — and make up your own mind

The fate of Social Security, MaineCare, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act rests on the election come November, so believes the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare.

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare community forum titled "Your Voice, Your Vote, Your Future; Your Social Security, Medicare, Medicare & Affordable Care Act" will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 23, at Callahan Hall at the Lewiston Public Library.

This committee, which is a coalition that includes the Maine League of Young Voters, AARP Maine and the Maine Alliance of Retired Americans, presented a forum to examine the future of Social Security, MaineCare, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act in Portland Tuesday. The group will hold a similar forum in Lewiston tonight.

According to NCPSSM, which is holding these forums in partnership with the Maine People’s Alliance, Americans are facing a crossroad of political ideology that we haven’t seen in years on the federal level, and no matter your personal political viewpoints, being informed about these social and health programs is essential to an informed vote.

The Washington, D.C.-Based NCPSSM, formed in 1982, describes itself as an “independent” organization but its members — at least in Maine — are decidedly more aligned with Democratic candidates and liberal ideologies than not. That said, the information this group provides is fact-based and worth consideration no matter your political bent.

The group hopes, through its forums, to debunk long-held myths about federal health and retirement programs, including how they are funded and the continuing solvency of various programs and trusts.

We tend to have, NCPSSM believes, this notion that retired Mainers are hosting garden parties and own homes in Maine and Florida, traveling south and north with the warm weather. While that’s true for many people, it’s not the standard of living for most of Maine’s oldest residents.

Here, Social Security is the only source of income for a third of senior citizens. That’s comparable to living on minimum wage, making it difficult for seniors to buy adequate food, pay for heating and afford medications. It means, for too many, hard choices between health and warmth.

According to NCPSSM member Jim Lysen, who is also the executive director/CFO of Community Clinical Services at the B Street Community Center, recent discussions in Congress about cutting benefits to Social Security and Medicare retirees have caused a great deal of confusion that can be eased with a discussion of basic facts rather than relying on political campaign ads that play to our fears.

And, he said, this topic is important to everyone, not just benefits-earning seniors.

It’s important to young adults who are now just starting to pay into these programs, to middle-aged Americans who are caring for their parents who can’t afford nursing home care, and for families of the disabled who aren’t able to manage personal care. In other words, everyone should care.

In Maine, according to NCPSSM, there are 299,875 people receiving Social Security benefits. That’s nearly a quarter of our population, with slightly more recipients in the 2nd Congressional District compared to the first.

Of all recipients, more than half (185,849) are retired workers; another 55,525 are disabled workers; and the remainder (58,501) are widows, widowers, spouses and children.

This collection of recipients bring $3.5 billion in benefits to Maine every year, spending much of that money locally. That’s reason enough to be informed about how the federal program works and what it costs. The better reason to understand is that some of Maine's poorest and neediest residents depend on Social Security and other safety net programs and every change affects their ability to survive. 

Social Security is an important program, and it’s important that it be funded adequately and administered responsibly. Same goes for Medicare and all other government programs.

We can't allow rhetoric and political posturing to determine our votes. We have a responsibility to be informed about the issues before heading to the polls.

Thursday’s forum is a good opportunity to get some information. And, with that, the ability to form our own opinions about what needs to be done.

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

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Amedeo Lauria's picture

Not confused at all...

I fully understand the difference between Social Security payments and Supplemental Security Income and hope it serves the truly disabled, as in the case of your adult daughter. Listen carefully, and stop listening to the leftist media, no one is talking about slashing and buring Social Security. That is election year posturing of the worst kind by our current administration. SSI was almost bankrupted when they added alcoholism, drug abuse and obesity to the list of disabilities; I understand those categories were taken off eligibilty to save the SSI program. It is my understanding that SSI is not funded by the Social Security trust fund, but directly from the treasury to the tune of over $44 Billion dollars a year. My point had more to do with the fact that individuals, at their own risk, are depending upon the government for retirement and healthcare instead of a well thought out savings and investment plan. Before I hear, "I don't make enough to save and invest" that is the oldest saddest excuse used by everyone from blue collar workers to rock stars. You can and do make enough to save and invest regardless of income, but many fail to prioritize how they live, save and spend money. That was my point, and it is a valid one.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Get the facts about federal health and retirement programs

ed. 12.08.24 17:30
Right ?
There is always Canada
They do not turn away sick or destitute people
h t h , Dr. Dosh

Amedeo Lauria's picture

Give a man a fish....

...and you feed him for one day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for life.
This is a timeless truism lost on the Democrats that know if society teaches people to be, well informed, self-reliant and possess self-esteem their voting base will dry up. The Democrats love to hand out fishes with your money.

George Will wrote an excellent article recently about the countless “apocalyptic events” on the horizon that are reported by the left to fill their pockets with political donations; all of course proven to be groundless but energized their base.

I agree, get the real facts and you will realize that we are being constantly fleeced for one leftist cause after another.

It is like the street preacher talking about the end of the world who has to keep pushing the date out; but still has a loyal band of followers. A shame indeed.

Betty Davies's picture

You're confusing Social Security with SSI

...Unless you really expect that if you destroy Social Security, poverty-stricken elders in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, many of whom have age-related infirmities, will suddenly get up off their supposedly lazy behinds and get full-time jobs.

And since I suspect it's actually SSI you have in mind with your "fish" analogy, I'll mention that I have a disabled adult daughter, born with a genetic deletion syndrome, who has benefitted greatly from SSI. Thanks to the pittance it provides, and to services provided by Medicaid/MaineCare, she was able to very gradually transition from a group home at age 19 to semi-independent living (supervised Section 8 apartment), to Voc Rehab training, to part-time jobs. She flunked her first job, which was folding napkins, but persisted. Very gradually (now in her late 30s) she gained stamina and skills, and works a 32-hour week with some supports. She currently earns enough so that both SSI and SSDI benefits stopped, and is (barely) getting by on her salary. She's ambitious, but every time she tries to work a 40-hour week she winds up seriously ill and has to start off with a 5 to 10 hour week again.

So the next time you tell the world that Social Security or SSI ought to be slashed and destroyed, try to keep in mind that you will be harming disabled people. Many conservatives seem entirely willing to damage as many truly needy people as possible in order to prevent a few cases of fraud by other poor people. I say, root out the fraud while strengthening the social safety net. And if it's major saving you're after, try focusing on a few cases of fraud by millionaires for a while--you'll get bigger savings for your efforts.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Amadeo , Sunday 16:40 hst

Amadeo , Sunday 16:40 hst •
" Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day . Be environmentally conscious too . Don't just throw your beer cans and bottles in to the streams , ponds , lakes and the ocean . Fill them with water first . " -- Jeff Foxworthy , 1 9 8 9 • h t h ? / s , Dr. Steve Dosh , Hawai'i , " Birthstate of our President " -- Mitt Romney 12.08.22

 's picture

Couldn't agree more

Let's put the Republican's secret agenda on the table so everyone can see what they really want but can't talk about because if they did they would never be elected:

1. End Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security; however long it takes and by whatever means it takes. This has been the Republican position since these programs were first created.
2. Tax the middle class into extinction. The middle class is too expensive for the very wealthy.
3. Control women the source of all evil. Criminalize abortion and birth control in all cases.
4. End Education. Teach creationism, and science in the interest of the wealthy, and keep the masses ignorant of their rights all in private schools that they can control.
5. Outlaw unions and social organizations of the masses except churches. Control their minds and their dollars will follow.

 's picture

The hard left side of the Democrat party ...

... is diligently at work on all those points, except #5. Unions are a wholly owned subsidiary of the DNC - or maybe it's the other way around. Agenda:

1. Leave 'em alone, they'll fail on their own. But they're too big to fail, so bail 'em out, debase the currency even more, blame Bush.

2. Shrink the middle class, create more wagon riders, and pay for it by letting the tax cuts expire. Blame Bush.

3. The war on women was started long ago by Democrats. The most significant generals have been Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy. The recent skirmishes, orchestrated by Democrats, have one aim: distract attention from the tanking economy. Blame Bush.

4. Like the big programs in #1, education is trying desperately to justify itself given its terrible performance with almost unlimited funds. But blame Bush. It's easier than thinking.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

At the end of oBAMa's second

At the end of oBAMa's second term, if he's re-elected, they'll still be blaming Bush for oBAMa;'s eight years of abject failure.
BTW-Have you heard anything about California's San Andreas Fault being renamed the Bush Fault?

John Goddard's picture

Extreme importance

Spot on. The more informed we all are, the less we will be persuaded by the repeated talking points of lies, and radicalism broadcast by the GOP. If not we will all regret it, with no way to turn back.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

You do realize that this

You do realize that this group as an agenda – don’t you?

They are trying to sell you on their point of view.

The Congressional Budget Office says thsese programs are not sustainability.
Be careful not to buy into things you want to hear. Take your own advance and get informed.


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