fresh voices from the front lines of change







You are a congressperson. You just voted for a budget that would destroy Medicare. Then you traveled home this week to meet with your constituents. Most of them like Medicare. What do you tell them?

Tell them you want to “save Medicare.”

Bloomberg reports:

House Speaker John Boehner said Republican lawmakers should tackle head-on the Medicare issue during the recess….

…Before the House vote, Republican leaders circulated a package of charts, talking points and fact sheets supporting the budget to members, including links to a document countering the main attacks on the plan.

The document encourages lawmakers to highlight how the budget “saves Medicare,” and offers “future beneficiaries access to the same kinds of health-care options now enjoyed by members of Congress.”

Sure, the Republican budget “saves” Medicare … in the same way a pet dog “saves” you a chocolate cake by jumping up on the table, eating it and leaving some cake crumbs behind for you

Of course, you will have “access” to the health-care options available to congresspeople … much like how you have “access” to Ferraris and diamond necklaces when the dealer graciously allows you to touch the merchandise for five seconds.

Medicare has always been an covenant we. the American people, have had with our government: we when retire, we will still have affordable health care.

The Republican budget smashes that covenant. It ends the guarantee of affordable coverage.

Instead, it gives lumps sums of cash to private insurers, and whatever that doesn’t cover that you still need once you retire, you have to pay for it or you don’t get it.

In turn, the House Republican budget would explode the health care costs for middle-class seniors, concludes the Kaiser Family Foundation: “Under the proposal, a typical 65-year-old retiring in 2022 would be expected to devote nearly half their monthly Social Security checks toward health care costs, more than double what they would spend under current Medicare law…”

Furthermore, it would make additional cuts that shred the safety net for the elderly poor, finds the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “…this would result in a 65-year-old who lives at the poverty line (which would be $13,620 for an elderly individual in 2022) paying, on average, $4,700 more in 2022 than he or she would under the programs as they exist today. These higher out-of-pocket costs would consume about one-third of the individual’s total annual income, leaving little remaining for basic necessities such as housing and food. Seniors living below the poverty line would pay an even greater share of their income. As a result, many … would likely end up forgoing needed medical care.”

Medicare would not be “saved.” It would be shriveled and disfigured. You may have “access” to wonderful private health insurance options, but with no guarantee you could actually afford them.

If you happen to participate in a town hall with a congressperson who voted for the House Republican Budget, and he or she tries to peddle these manifestly dishonest talking points, just ask them:

How is more than doubling the health care costs for future Medicare recipients saving and not destroying what Medicare is all about?

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