New Report Exposes Extreme Disparity in the Social Security Debate

Washington, D.C. — A new Institute for Policy Studies report to be released on March 14 analyzes proposed Social Security cuts and their potential impact on individuals at the top and the bottom of the health industry.

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On the top end, the report focuses on the CEOs of CVS Caremark, the nation’s largest drug retailer, and UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurer. Both men are members of the Business Roundtable, which is pushing for an increase in the retirement age to 70 and a new method of calculating inflation known as “chained CPI.”

Currently, Larry Merlo of CVS Caremark has $46 million in employer-provided retirement benefits, while UnitedHealth’s Stephen Hemsley has accumulated $18 million. If their proposed reforms are adopted, Merlo and Hemsley’s retirement incomes would decline by a small amount — an estimated 0.3% and 0.7%, respectively.

By contrast, the report shows that a typical home health aide, Rhonda Straw of Pennsylvania, would likely lose nearly 16% of her retirement income under the reforms. Like millions of Americans, Straw is likely to depend almost entirely on Social Security during her retirement years.

CVS Caremark and UnitedHealth are also active in the “Fix the Debt” campaign, a heavily funded corporate lobby group that is also advocating for cuts to Social Security and reductions in the corporate tax rate.

“It’s easy for CEOs with mega-million-dollar retirement funds to demand cuts to Social Security,” said Scott Klinger, a report co-author and Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. “They’ll be enjoying their country clubs, while America’s already shamefully high poverty rate among the elderly will increase.”

To receive a paper copy of the report, contact Lacy MacAuley, (202) 445-4692 main, (202) 234-9382 second, lacy@ips-dc.org.

This is the third Institute for Policy Studies report on the “Fix the Debt” campaign. The report A Pension Deficit Disorder revealed that the average CEO members of that campaign enjoyed $9 million in their personal retirement funds, while many of them were underfunding their worker pension funds.

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Institute for Policy Studies (IPS-DC.org) is a community of public scholars and organizers linking peace, justice, and the environment in the U.S. and globally. We work with social movements to promote true democracy and challenge concentrated wealth, corporate influence, and military power.