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Seattle City Council Supports Medicare Expansion and “Scrap the Cap”

Retirement Security Advocates

On June 13, 2016, members of the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services joined Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (PSARA) and other advocates for older adults at the Seattle City Council meeting to support Resolution 31672, addressing the retirement security crisis.

“The expansion of Social Security and Medicare as stated will help to eliminate the deficits we now face in income security and health care,” testified ADS Advisory Council member Mary Anderson. “We know that scrapping the cap on payroll tax on incomes over $118,500 is the solution for securing the Social Security trust fund that provides the only income for so many vulnerable people.”

She also urged the Council to support expansion of Medicare to include coverage for vision, dental, hearing aids, and long term care. “These essential services and hearing aids are often financially out of reach for those who need them,” Anderson said.

Testimony linkTo hear all testimony from the Seattle City Council meeting on June 13, 2016, click on the image above. Mary Anderson’s testimony begins at 14:40. Council action takes place at 42:24.

Advisory Council chair Molly Holmes and members Mac McIntosh and Lorna Stone also attended the Council meeting to show support the resolution.

Councilmember Lorena González sponsored the resolution, which laid out these facts and more:

  • 56.3 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in their checking and savings accounts.
  • More than half of U.S. workers have no workplace retirement plans. Of those who do, just 35 percent have defined benefit pensions.
  • Social Security retiree benefits average less than $1,300 per month. For two out of three retirees, these benefits provide more than half the total of their income.
  • For 36 percent of recipients, Social Security is the sole source of their income.
  • Medicare provides good health care benefits but fails to cover hearing, vision, dental, and most long-term care services.
Scrap the Cap

Currently, people who earn more than $118,500 pay no payroll tax on their earnings above the cap. In effect, they pay taxes at a lower rate than wage earners who earn under the cap.

In passing the resolution, the Seattle City Council:

  • Calls for the expansion of Social Security benefits to address the growing crisis of financial insecurity among present and future Social Security recipients.
  • Calls for the elimination of the income cap on Social Security to pay for the expansion of Social Security benefits.
  • Supports the expansion of the Medicare program to make it possible for younger people to buy into the Medicare program.
  • Supports the expansion of vital Medicare benefits, including dental, vision, and hearing, to be funded by raising the Medicare payroll tax from 1.45 percent to 2 percent.

To view the signed document, click here.

The resolution passed unanimously. After the vote, advocates gathered to celebrate this victory (see photo at top). They intend to take a similar resolution to the King County Council and other legislative bodies in the months to come.