The Tennessean: Sen. Bob Corker wants Medicare payments detailed for taxpayers

Oct 6, 2011

WASHINGTON — A bill introduced by Republican Sen. Bob Corker on Wednesday would provide an annual statement to taxpayers detailing how much they have paid into Medicare and how much they have received in benefits.

The Tennessee senator said Americans must be aware of the mismatch between contributions and benefits before Medicare can be effectively reformed.

“I have tremendous faith in the American people, and I believe when the American people are given facts and transparency they make good decisions — and they help us here in Washington make good decisions,” Corker said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

For example, a couple earning annual salaries of $43,500 each will contribute a total of $119,000 to Medicare over their lifetimes, but they will receive $357,000 in benefits, according to Urban Institute data that Corker cited. That mismatch is significant even after accounting for inflation and lost investment income, experts say.

“If Americans can see firsthand this difference between what they pay in and what they will receive in benefits, then hopefully we can get momentum behind reforms to preserve the system for current and future generations,” Corker said.

While Republicans and Democrats usually don’t see eye to eye on Medicare, Corker’s bill was co-sponsored by a Democrat, Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado. A similar bill was introduced in the House in March by Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

The bill would require a breakdown of Medicare contributions and benefits to be sent via mail or email to people each year.

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