Tester hears Social Security & Medicare concerns


by Marnee Banks

U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) is traveling around Montana meeting with seniors and hearing their concerns about Social Security and Medicare.

On Thursday, he made his fourth stop in Helena at the Touchmark Retirement Home.

Tester says as Congress tries to balance the federal budget and reduce spending many seniors are expressing concerns that Social Security and Medicare will end up on the chopping block.

Moderator of the Helena listening session & Touchmark’s Wellness Director Nanette Whitman-Holmes says with the political uncertainty, seniors are concerned about the future of their safety net programs.

“They are still afraid of, ‘What if I get sick? Are there repercussions? Can I pay for it? Will Medicare help pay for it? Will my insurance still be there to help supplement and help pay for it?’ ” Whitman-Holmes explains. “That’s not something you want to be worried about when you are in your 80s and 90s.”

Whitman-Holmes says her residents aren’t just concerned about their benefits being cut, but the programs’ long term sustainability as their kids and grandkids reach retirement.

Tester is asking seniors to fill out a questionnaire which contains questions about Social Security and Medicare. He’s taking the answers back to Washington and plans on using them as he continues to work on the budget and address the federal deficit.

Tester says he supports the Bowles Simpson plan to reduce the federal debt. It would reduce deficits by at least $4 trillion over 10 years by cutting defense spending, federal entitlement programs and reforming the tax code.

However, Tester says he doesn’t support cuts to Social Security and Medicare.