The Coastal Post - May, 1997

Uncle Sam's Money

BY R.L. GILDAY

Let us go back into the political mists of time and up to now and examine Social Security's four separate trust funds:

the federal old-age and survivors insurance trust fund;

the federal disability insurance trust fund;

the federal hospital insurance trust fund;

and the federal supplementary medical insurance trust fund, which holds the amounts collected as premiums for medical insurance coverage, as well as the appropriate amounts from general revenues to cover the government's matching share of premiums.

The funds are held by a Board of Trustees, which by law is composed of the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. Education is now a separate bureau.

The Commissioner of Social Security serves as Secretary of the Board of Trustees.

The deposits in the four trust funds are used only for the retirement and survivors, disability, hospital and medical insurance programs. Funds that are not needed for current benefits and administrative expenses (except for a contingency reserve authorized to be appropriated to the federal supplementary medical insurance trust fund) are invested in interest-bearing federal securities. Medi-Cal is paid out of U.S. General Treasury Funds.

On January 1, 1983, all federal employees, by an act of Congress, had a deduction of 1.5% taken from their paychecks (no matching from federal government) which was deposited in the Medicare trust fund, even though all federal employees pay for pension funds and medical insurance from their bi-weekly payroll checks as part of their permanent employment with the U.S. civil service employment bureau.

The U.S. government pays and matches deductions from bi-weekly payroll checks for pensions and paid medical insurance. When a federal employee retires and starts receiving monthly pension fund benefits, federal and state taxes continue to be deducted and collected, and the U.S. employee pays for all medical insurance. U.S. Armed Services forces are also a part of this system, as long as they serve as career employees entitled to all benefits of pension years and medical insurance.

If we returned to private nationalized and privatized funding, as has been suggested from time to time, individually no one would take responsibility to ensure their old age and invest in long-term monetary planning. The outstanding example is easy plastic money, namely credit card, overload and spending sprees, which have created large numbers of people filing for bankruptcy.

We would be left then, when it came to retirement, with large segments of people without guaranteed pension. For 15 yeas prior to 1972, the American Medical Association fought tooth and nail against Medicare and spent millions of dollars lobbying Congress against what they referred to as socialized medicine. Well, we now have a complete turnaround. And Medicare and Medi-cal patients are being wooed, but not wined and dined to bring guaranteed insurance payments to all medical group practices and single medical practices of the medical community.

Dental plans are paid from employees paychecks when an employer buys block dental plans. Dentists refuse to take Medi-cal payments for services rendered in Marin County, claiming Medi-Cal payments are too low and slow, and the paperwork too massive.