To the Editor:
In your July 31 issue you printed a letter in which the author applauded the Virginia legislature for turning down the $3 billion offered by the federal government to provide Medicaid benefits to low income State citizens in need of medical care and assistance. The author defended this course of action because the offered funds would be provided by deficit spending. The author is certainly to be commended for his efforts to encourage fiscal responsibility. If the letter writer was truly interested in deficit reduction, however, he might suggest to Congress that recipients of Medicare benefits receive something more in line with their actual contributions. The $3 billion amount cited above pales in comparison to the amount of deficit spending required to keep Medicare afloat. According to an Urban Institute study discussed in a Washington Post article of Jan. 2, 2011, an average-wage two-earner couple retiring in 2011 would have paid $114,000 in Medicare taxes during their careers. Their expected lifetime Medicare benefits are $355,000, or three times what they put in. Although Social Security has a more balanced contribution-benefit relationship, it too has an annual deficit. The number of Medicare recipients in the U.S. is rapidly approaching 50,000,000. In Virginia alone, over 1,200,000 people receive Medicare. Just think, if each of these 50 million sacrificed even a little, our country could both reduce the deficit and provide essential services to those desperately in need of our assistance.
John Koch, Alexandria