How Social Security and Medicare Fit into Biden’s $5.8 Trillion Budget Request
President Joe Biden’s $5.8 trillion fiscal 2023 budget includes nearly $15 billion in discretionary funding for the Social Security Administration, which represents a 14% increase from previous outlays. Whether it goes far enough to address various problems with the SSA is up for debate.
Biden has proposed $14.8 billion in funding for the SSA, up from $13 billion enacted in 2021, CNBC reported. Of the proposed total, $1.6 billion — also up 14% from 2021 — would be used to improve the agency’s services. The money would go toward bolstering field offices, state disability determination services and teleservice centers. Funds also would be used to hire additional staff as a way of reducing wait times and speeding up disability claims processing.
Another priority is to finance changes that will help ensure everyone who needs Social Security and Medicare services can access them – including the homeless, children with disabilities, and adults with intellectual or mental disabilities
Biden’s proposal also includes a $224 million increase that would go toward ensuring Social Security and Medicare provide the right benefits to those who qualify, and that funds are spent responsibly. Some of the extra money would go toward supporting the investigation and prosecution of fraud.
Senior advocacy groups mostly applaud the additional funding. As a blog on the website of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare put it: “Any increase in SSA funding is likely to help relieve customer service bottlenecks – including long wait times on hold when calling the 800 number and interminable waiting periods for disability hearings. A more robust operating budget should also help ease the reopening of SSA field offices shuttered during the pandemic.”
The committee also approved of Biden’s plan to reserve funds that could be used to address the soaring price of prescription drugs.
“The National Committee hopes that any meaningful prescription drug reform includes allowing Medicare to negotiate prices with Big Pharma,” the blog said.
But the organization also said Biden’s proposal “does not contain everything that advocates for older Americans had hoped.”
“While we appreciate many aspects of the President’s FY2023 budget proposal, we had hoped that it would reflect efforts by Democrats in Congress to boost Social Security, including a much-needed increase in benefits and an adjustment of the payroll wage cap so that the wealthy pay their fair share into the system,” Max Richtman, the committee’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
Meanwhile, others have voiced concern that Biden’s proposal doesn’t do enough to address an expected shortfall in Social Security funds that could lead to a 22% reduction in benefits by 2034.
“The budget does not go far enough toward putting the nation’s fiscal house back in order, nor does it tackle the tougher tradeoffs necessary to responsibly prevent Social Security, Medicare, and Highway Trust Fund insolvency,” Maya MacGuineas, president of the non-profit Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said in a statement.
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