The 5 Warning Signs

Republicans Threaten Social Security and Medicare 

Social Security and Medicare are the foundation of security for seniors, people on disabilities and families. Social Security provides guaranteed, inflation-adjusted earned benefits. Medicare provides assured access to care. Together, they are part of our national fabric. 

Yet, their future and our well-being are in danger from Republican candidates with plans to cut benefits, raise costs and even eliminate Social Security and Medicare altogether. Here are 5 warning signs about what could happen to our financial and health security if Republicans take control of Congress: higher costs, fewer benefits, greater risk. 

Warning #1: Every Republican in Congress voted against lowering prescription drug prices. 

 

Starting in January, the Inflation Reduction Act caps monthly out-of-pocket insulin costs at $35, provides free vaccines (including for shingles), and penalizes drug companies that increase prices above inflation. In later years, Medicare will negotiate the price of certain high-priced drugs, (the VA negotiates now and pays about half the price for drugs)1 and cap total out-of-pocket drug costs at $2,000. These protections are badly needed and overwhelmingly popular, yet every Republican in the Senate and House voted against them.2 

Warning #2: Republicans have already introduced legislation to repeal IRA protections. 

Four Republican Senators – Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, Jim Lankford and Cynthis Lummis – introduced S. 4953 on September 27. This 12-line bill would prevent Medicare negotiation and return to the days when prices can soar above inflation and seniors face unlimited out-of-pocket costs. 

Warning #3: Republican Senators have announced plans that could end Social Security and Medicare. 

Florida Senator Rick Scott (chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee) announced a plan that would sunset (eliminate) Social Security and Medicare without Congressional action every 5 years.3 Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson says Social Security and Medicare should be turned into discretionary programs -- eliminating their guarantee and putting them at risk every year.4 

Warning #4: House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy says Social Security and Medicare will be on the budget-cutting table next year. 

Republican Leader McCarthy – who led his party in voting against lowering drug prices and against making billionaires pay their fair tax share– now says that Social Security and Medicare cuts are fair game in order to reduce the federal budget. Working women and men pay for Social Security (which doesn’t use a dollar of general revenues) and Medicare – but Republican Leader McCarthy says these earned benefits should be on the chopping block.5 

Warning #5: House and Senate Republicans have a long history of putting Social Security and Medicare benefits at risk. 

Republican Leader McCarthy’s statement is right in line with years of Republican- proposed budget resolutions that would privatize Social Security, turn Medicare into a voucher program, raise the age of eligibility, reduce the COLA, raise cost-sharing and cut benefits. Only Democratic opposition prevented these assaults on earned retirement and health benefits.6

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO STOP THE ASSAULT 

Social Security and Medicare are on the ballot this November, and voters need to know the threats that Republican candidates pose to their well-being. Usually, Republicans wait until after the elections to unveil their plans to cut benefits. This year, Republicans like Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson and Kevin McCarthy aren’t even pretending that they will protect our earned benefits. 

With only weeks left until November 8, Social Security and Medicare supporters should: 

**Spread the word through letters to the editor, social media and conversations with friends and family. 

**Go to candidate forums to raise the issue. Sitting senators and representatives who voted against Inflation Reduction Act’s proposals to lower drug prices should be asked if they will continue to oppose lower drug prices and will support legislation like S. 4953. Other candidates should be asked their position. Every candidate needs to say whether they will vote to cut or to improve Social Security and Medicare benefits. 

Sample Letters to the Editor – Medicare and Prescription Drugs 

LTE #1
Next month’s election is critically important to anyone who cares about health care in America. 

It’s hard to imagine what would happen to seniors and their families without Medicare, but Republicans are supporting proposals that threaten its existence. Under a plan put forward by National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Rick Scott, Congress would have to act every 5 years, or Medicare would end. Or they could change Medicare as we know it – raising out-of-pocket costs, cutting benefits, and limiting access to doctors. 

Every Republican in Congress (including name of incumbent candidate if appropriate) voted against legislation that will lower prescription drug prices. One in 4 seniors struggle to pay for life-saving medications. Republicans opposed action to limit cost-sharing, prevent higher-than-inflation prices increases, and require Medicare negotiate for affordable drug prices. In September, Senator Marco Rubio and his colleagues introduced legislation to repeal those needed protection. 

Fortunately, Democrats succeeded in enacting these reforms – and they will fight the Rubio bill, too. They deserve our support this November. 

LTE #2 

Prescription drug relief is coming to seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare, thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act which passed on straight party lines. 

Within 3 months, insulin co-pays will be capped at $35 a month. Vaccines – like the vaccine for shingles – will be free. And drug companies will be penalized if they raise prices faster than inflation. These important reforms will be followed by more, including a $2,000 cap on annual out-of-pocket spending and a requirement that Medicare negotiate to lower the prices of expensive medications. 

Every Republican in Congress, (including name of Republican incumbent candidate if appropriate) voted no. Not only didn’t Republicans vote to make life-saving prescription drugs affordable, they have consistently endorsed proposals to raise cost-sharing and to lower benefits. Now they are threatening Medicare itself, signaling support for radical proposals that would end Medicare in 5 years or change it from a mandatory to a discretionary program. 

Medicare’s future – and the future of all of us who rely on it – are at stake this November. Vote to protect our health. 

LTE #3 

It is crystal clear that Democrats and Republicans have very different visions for the future of Medicare. 

Democrats created Medicare and have worked consistently to improve it. Most recently, Democrats (without a single Republican vote) passed the Inflation Reduction Act. It will lower prescription drug prices for seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare by penalizing drug companies that raise prices above inflation, capping out-of-pocket costs, and requiring negotiation of high-priced medications. 

Every Republican (including name of incumbent candidate if appropriate) not only rejected these life- saving measures, key Congressional Republicans have announced plans to increase cost-sharing, privatize Medicare, and even change the rules so that Medicare could be gone in 5 years. 

This November, voters need to remember who is working to improve health care and who would make it even harder for seniors to get high-quality, affordable care. 

LTE #4 

Medicare is a lifeline for seniors and people with disabilities, but it can be made better. The Inflation Reduction Act enacted in August does just that. 

Republicans in Congress, (like name of incumbent candidate if appropriate), have for years refused to act to lower high drug prices. As a result, 1 in 4 people on Medicare struggle to afford the medications their doctors have prescribed. 

The Inflation Reduction Act will change that. Starting in January, monthly out-of-pocket costs for insulin will be capped at $35, vaccines will be free, and drug companies will face penalties for large price increases. In later years, yearly out-of-pocket costs will be capped at $2,000 and Medicare will negotiate to make high-priced drugs more affordable. 

So why did every other Republican in Congress (including name of incumbent candidate if appropriate) vote no? And why are they expressing support for proposals that could end Medicare in 5 years? It’s clear the health of seniors is not a high priority. 

So come November, don’t vote to let Republicans control Congress – unless you are willing to put Medicare and our health at risk. 

LTE #5 

Elections are about choices, and this November voters can choose between candidates who care about making health care more affordable and those who don’t. 

Every other Republican in Congress (including name of incumbent candidate if appropriate) voted against lowering prescription drug prices in Medicare. They voted against capping insulin copays at $35 a month, making vaccines free, and penalizing drug companies that raise prices faster than inflation. Fortunately, those measures will go into effect this January because of Democratic action. 

They voted against capping annual out-of-pocket costs ($2,000 in 2025) and requiring Medicare negotiate to lower the price of high-cost drugs (as the VA does today, lowering many drug prices by half). Again, Democrats enacted those improvements without any Republican support. 

But those reforms – and Medicare itself – could be threatened if Republicans take control of Congress. Top Republicans aren’t even waiting until after the election to make their intentions clear – instead, they are talking about turning Medicare into a discretionary program, cutting earned benefits, and even eliminating it unless Congress acts every 5 years to extend it. 

This November, choose candidates who believe in Medicare’s promise and who will act to protect and improve it. 

Letters to the Editor – The Future of Social Security and Medicare 

LTE #1: 

Americans rely on Social Security and Medicare for their financial and health well-being. They have been part of our national fabric for decades – providing guaranteed, earned benefits. 

But we cannot take them for granted. This election season, Republican candidates are not even hiding their plans if given control of Congress. 

National Republican Senatorial Campaign Chair Rick Scott proposes to sunset Medicare and Social Security –ending them unless Congress acts every 5 years. 

Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson thinks they should be made discretionary – leaving our benefits at risk at the hands of Republican budget cutters – who would rather cut Social Security and Medicare than make billionaires pay their fair tax share. 

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy says Social Security and Medicare earned benefits could be cut – while protecting tax breaks for the richest among us. 

Republicans are telling us what they plan to do – we should listen. 

LTE #2: 

Democrats this summer passed the Inflation Reduction Act, giving seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare needed help by lowering the sky-high prices of drugs. Republicans all voted no, and now Senator Marco Rubio and his colleagues want to repeal this needed law. 

But that’s not all. Republican leaders in Congress are telling us their plans – and those plans spell disaster for everyone who relies or will rely on Social Security and Medicare. 

Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy is fighting to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest among us but thinks our earned Social Security and Medicare benefits should be cut to reduce the federal deficit. 

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Rick Scott thinks Social Security and Medicare should disappear unless Congress acts to extend them every 5 years. Others think they should be turned into discretionary programs – subject to yearly budget cuts. 

Our future is at stake in November. Vote for candidates who will protect it by keeping the Social Security and Medicare guarantee. 

LTE#3: 

Maybe you rely on Social Security for your retirement. Maybe you are a disabled worker or a child survivor who needs its monthly benefits. Most of us have or will rely on our earned Social Security benefits to get by. 

That is why it is so terrifying that Republican Congressional leaders are threatening Social Security, as well as Medicare. National Republican Senatorial Campaign Chair Rick Scott is willing to terminate Social Security and Medicare if future Congresses don’t act every 5 years. Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy thinks Social Security and Medicare benefit cuts should be on the table next year. 

Maybe they don’t need to count on these financial and health benefits being there, but most of us do. This election, vote for those who have our interests in mind – vote for Democrats who will stand up for Social Security and Medicare. Vote Democratic. 


1 Prescription Drugs: Department of Veterans’ Affairs Paid About Half as Much as Medicare Part D for Selected Drugs in 2017,” Government Accountability Office, 12/15/2020.
2 117th Congress, Senate Vote #325, House Vote #420
3 Senator Rick Scott, “11 Point Plan to Rescue America.” 
4 “Senator Johnson suggests ending Medicare, Social Security as mandatory spending programs,” Washington Post, 8/3/2022.
5 “GOP to use debt limit to force spending cuts, McCarthy says,” Washington Post, 10/18/2022.
6 “The Republican Record on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security: Attacks on Benefits Seniors have Earned and Deserve,” House Congressional Seniors Task Force, 7/25/2018.