American seniors are being attacked on many different fronts. With price inflation as high as it is, retirees are forced to stretch their savings and dip into their nest eggs to cover the climbing cost of living. Despite many seniors making the right decisions throughout their working lives, Democrats are reportedly “aghast” that these same older Americans have accumulated at least $5 million in their individual retirement accounts (IRAs). It might not be surprising that many retired Americans – rich, poor, and somewhere in between – feel less confident about living comfortably during their winter years. But Democrats think they have created a functional budget-busting plan to offer a modicum of pecuniary security for Medicare recipients, potentially risking fiscal harm to the next generation.
Free Stuff for Seniors – Again
As part of the Senate Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget blueprint, health insurance for the nation’s seniors would face a significant overhaul. According to the proposal, the eligibility age to receive Medicare would be lowered to possibly 60, and the plan would cover dental, hearing, and vision. Although it would add a significant cost to one of the country’s largest entitlement schemes, proponents assert that these extra benefits are critical.
Under the current Medicare system, seniors receive hospital and outpatient care coverage. But while there are a few exceptions for beneficiaries receiving limited coverage for eyes and teeth, most of today’s 62.8 million Americans enrolled in Medicare do not have access to these benefits.
The new additions include dentures, preventive dental care, refractive eye exams, root canals, hearing aids, eyeglasses, and contact lenses. Democrats note this would be paid for through higher taxes, health care savings, and long-term economic growth. In addition, President Joe Biden has confirmed that he would allocate more funding to the Internal Revenue Service to clamp down on tax evasion.
Should the U.S. government fail to pay for these major upgrades, would it further strain Medicare’s finances? For example, its Hospital Insurance Trust Fund is forecast to become insolvent in 2024 or 2026. But it appears this has been the idea among progressive Democrats for years. Liberty Nation reported in March 2019 that members of the “Squad” wanted every American to get medical, vision, dental, and long-term care at no cost, even though these outlays would add $32 trillion to Uncle Sam’s balance sheet.
Whatever the case, this is terrific news for low- and middle-income seniors. But is it suitable for their children and grandchildren? Despite the mendacious claims of “free,” this will metastasize into a massive price tag for generations to come. At least the country’s current seniors keep getting some good news.
Drinking Rum and Coca COLA
Inflation continues to skyrocket in the world’s largest economy, thanks to a concoction of Federal Reserve policy, strengthening global demand, supply chain issues, logistical challenges, and production fiascos. On the one hand, this is a horrific development for cash-strapped seniors. But, on the other, it could be welcome relief since reports suggest the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2022 could be as high as 6.1%, up from a paltry 1.3% in 2021. There are still a couple of months left in this fiscal year, but if higher inflation numbers are here to stay, the U.S. government could take a financial beating while millions of seniors could receive sweetened retirement checks.
How Will Retirees Respond?
It has been a rough 18 months for U.S. retirees. Benefits have been minimal, their investment accounts were eaten alive by the coronavirus-induced market meltdown, and surging price inflation has made life intolerable for those either nearing retirement or those who have already substituted suits and smartphones for jeans and fishing rods. What the Democrats are proposing would certainly be enticing for older Americans, but would family-focused households fall prey to the Faustian bargain? Indeed, everything Biden and the Democrats are passing and proposing has come with exorbitant price tags, and future generations will be forced to cover the tab.
A “free” pair of eyeglasses is an intriguing prospect – but is it worth it at the expense of your grandchildren?
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