U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva is a strong proponent of keeping Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare intact rather than cutting them back in the face of the federal deficit.
Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona's 7th Congressional District, said this week that these programs represent a shared responsibility and trust, and they need to be reformed and protected.
“It's part of our social contract as a nation,” he said.
Grijalva's comments came with the release of a new report detailing the fiscal and community impacts of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid on Arizona's economies.
Meant to highlight the importance of the programs, the report, broken out for each state by the Washington, D.C.-based Strengthen Social Security Coalition, shows that in 2009, one in seven Arizonans received Medicare and one in four received Medicaid.
One in six state residents received Social Security benefits in 2010, and about two-thirds of Social Security beneficiaries are retired workers. These proportions were approximately the same in Yuma County, where 30,520 people, primarily retirees, drew Social Security benefits.
Combined, the three programs provided more than $31 billion in benefits just in Arizona. About $343 million of them were just for Social Security benefits in Yuma County.
Eric Kingson, a co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security Coalition, said the programs are the country's most important retirement, life and health insurance plans, and they are “government at its best.”
“These programs work and they work well,” he said.
Kingson's coalition argues that Social Security did not cause the deficit so it should not be cut.
Grijalva said Washington Democrats don't want these programs touched during debt reduction actions because they also say they're not part of the deficit. He said other avenues need more scrutiny, such as subsidies for oil companies and itemized tax deductions for the very wealthy.
Grijalva suggested that Medicare and Medicaid negotiate bulk medication purchases and that the tax cap on Social Security be lifted.
View all of the state reports at www.strengthensocialsecurity.org/statereports2012.
Hillary Davis can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6857. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSHillaryDavis or on Twitter at @YSHillaryDavis.