The Medicare Rights Center has released an updated version of its fact sheet, Medicare: Strong and Built to Last, which discusses the future of Medicare and the role the program plays in keeping American families healthy and financially secure. With the election now over, policymakers will once again turn attention to the deficit reduction debate”which may have serious implications for Medicare. In response to proposals that would lower the debt only by cutting Medicare benefits or shifting costs to beneficiaries, Medicare: Strong and Built to Last reiterates that rising health care costs in the system overall pose the real problem to the nation’s deficit.

Radical plans, including the premium support, or voucher, model passed by the House of Representatives in March of this year, fail to address this underlying cause of increased Medicare spending. Instead, such models would impose an additional financial burden on Medicare beneficiaries who can least afford it. Half of all people with Medicare earn below $22,000 a year and already spend more than 15 percent of their annual incomes on health care costs.

In fact, Medicare can and should be the solution to controlling expenses throughout the health care sector: Medicare spending is expected to grow at a lower rate than private insurance over the next decade. Moreover, Medicare is well-positioned to continue providing Medicare beneficiaries and their families with health and financial security. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Medicare will be able to pay fully on claims until 2024, an extension of eight years. Through efforts to fight waste, fraud and abuse, and decrease over-payments to Medicare private health plans, the law improves Medicare fiscal outlook, saving the program an estimated $700 billion over the next ten years, all while keeping benefits intact.

In the coming weeks, Medicare Rights will release a series of fact sheets about proposals to change the Medicare program. Proposals to raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, redesign the Medicare benefit or limit coverage provided by Medigap plans, supplemental coverage to Medicare, share one commonality: they would reduce the federal deficit only by increasing costs for people with Medicare. Keep checking Medicare Watch to read these fact sheets, learn more about what these proposals involve and find out about better solutions for controlling health care costs without harming seniors and people with disabilities.

Read Medicare: Strong and Built to Last.