With experts saying Medicare is on an unsustainable path and others concerned about Social Security, the four candidates in the race for the 4th Congressional District offered plans to address the top issues facing seniors.
State Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg:
There's no existing privatization plan he would support for Social Security; the federal government "made a promise it should keep," Perry said.
He said he agrees with the "general concept" of the Medicare overhaul proposed by Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, who wants to create a system in which beneficiaries would get a fixed payment from the government for their health insurance instead of the guaranteed benefits provided in the current system.
Perry said he would support a system, though, in which tax credits were given to individuals instead of their employers, he said.
He said it's inappropriate for wealthy people to have access to Medicare, and it should be limited to people who are middle class and the poor. He said the Medicare reform previsions in the Affordable Care Act don't address the problems, and the bill should be "thrown out."
Democrat Harry Perkinson:
Perkinson said Social Security sustainability isn't as much of a concern as Medicare. He thinks Social Security and Medicare should have a means test, graduated according to income, so wealthy people can't use it.
He said repealing the Affordable Care Act will actually "kill Medicare faster" because the system will have to pay more to providers.
He said there needs to be a cost-control mechanism so doctors don't feel they must order multiple tests to avoid being sued. A system of best practices could serve as a guide, with algorithms telling doctors which tests to administer, he said.
Libertarian Mike Koffenberger:
Koffenberger said he would like to phase out Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security over a period of decades to grandfather those already in the system.
He said people should instead of Social Security have retirement accounts that move with them from employer to employer. If certain states chose to have a system like Social Security, they could, but people shouldn't look to the federal government if they are irresponsible and don't save money, he said.
"Everybody thinks the government is there to help them," he said. "Before (social programs) came into existence, people survived. They're not going to be bailed out by the federal government. Let charity or a nonprofit do that."
Independent Wayne Wolff:
Wolff said the Affordable Care Act should be repealed and the Internal Revenue Service agents who would be hired to "go after people who don't buy health insurance" should be assigned to help save Medicare by reducing Medicare fraud.
He would also reduce the exclusivity of name-brand drugs, making it easier for generic drugs to compete in the marketplace.
On Social Security, he said the collection age should be increased to 68 for men and women, and he would explore phasing out the program entirely for younger workers.
He would support a private program through which Social Security would be phased out and people started savings accounts. Charities would pick up the costs for people who don't budget accordingly, he said.
"A lot of people have gotten a free ride for a long time," he said.
- Reach Christina Kauffman at email@example.com.