Tester discusses record of protecting Medicare, Social Security during ‘tele town hall’ call

Senator fields questions as nearly 7,000 Montanans take part in call

(U.S. SENATE) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today reached out to nearly 7,000 Montanans to hear their input and to discuss the importance of protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits as Congress works on plans to cut spending and cut the deficit.

Tester, a strong and consistent supporter of strengthening Social Security and Medicare, took numerous questions from Montanans across the state during a live “teletown hall” meeting hosted by AARP, the nation’s largest advocacy organization for senior citizens.

Tester specifically addressed his role in strengthening Medicare and Social Security, and the need to continue protecting benefits as the bipartisan Joint Select Committee crafts a proposal to cut $1.2 trillion in spending.

“Some folks don’t understand that Social Security is something you earn,” Tester told listeners on the call.  “You earned those benefits.  You paid for them.  You’re entitled to them.”

AARP reports that 6,957 of its members in Montana took part in Tester’s call.

Tester began today’s call by welcoming the news that Social Security recipients will receive a 3.6 percent “cost of living” increase beginning in 2012, a move he called a “long overdue bump in benefits to keep pace with expenses.”

Tester highlighted how he strengthened the future of Medicare by successfully cutting hundreds of billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies to insurance companies—without touching Medicare benefits.

“We also authorized powerful new tools to fight fraud and abuse in Medicare,” Tester said.  “Our efforts extended the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund by an additional 12 years, ensuring that the program will be stronger for future generations.”

Tester noted that he wants to “ensure that seniors in rural America still have access to good doctors and good hospitals” by protecting fair Medicare reimbursement rates for frontier states like Montana—a provision he has consistently supported.

Tester also told listeners that he vigorously opposes attempts to privatize Social Security and replace Medicare with a voucher system, and that he opposes proposals like the controversial “Cap, Cut and Balance” plan that would have “ended Medicare as we know it in order to protect tax loopholes for millionaires and corporations that ship American jobs overseas.”