Are America’s Senior Citizens Backing Medicare and Medicaid Cuts?

FIRST PERSON | When crossing the milestone of age 60, many Americans feel a great deal of anxiety. My husband and I have been dealing with this worry, having spent most of our working lives looking forward to retirement and comfort but nearing that mark with our health not necessarily at its best. We look forward to the benefits of Medicare and Social Security — which, apparently, are now in great peril.

I had a heart attack in 1987 at 37. It became necessary to look far ahead to my future medical needs. Medicare is clearly the medical insurance of the retired community and having worked in the medical field for 22 years in Portland, Oregon, I have experience with the Medicare system. Being aware that Medicare does not cover some of the essential medical basics for the older American, it is amazing that Medicare is now being sought as a way to make large cuts to fill debt gaps in our countries budget. For example, as we age, the need for eye exams, medications, and dental work is more a necessity than a bother. Medicare is already stuffed full of non-covered exclusions that make the expensive drugs, glasses, and dental care an expense of the retired American’s pocketbook.

Dreaming of retirement also means cuts in income, if planning ahead was not done at an early age. Having grown up through my employment years as a patient advocate in a local hospital, I felt that Social Security and Medicare would be there when my retirement became a reality. Perhaps I didn’t save as much as I should, but I did have the forethought of starting an annuity through my employment, however many Americans have not done this. Clearly income drops at retirement time, making those high-dollar glasses and drugs a hardship. However, many politicians have used the Medicare, and Social Security Programs as part of their platforms for election. In the past these election campaigns included encouraging us to vote for them to keep Medicare and Social Security available and safe from harm. Today we are hearing that the politicians are asking for cuts to Medicare to save the country’s budget.

Do I personally want the budget to pass as it sits with cutting Medicare benefits for the elderly? No absolutely not, as this will actually affect my life and future in these golden years. Raising the deductibles for outpatient care and inpatient hospital stays will pull from my already dwindled personal budget of $1,250.00 per month. Making these financial and benefit restrictions on our elderly, myself included in that group, means that my lifestyle and future are at stake. My income is already cut by virtue of retirement ,and now that bright future of relaxation will no longer be available for my fellow seniors or myself.

Reading the proposed cuts to Medicare can make ones head spin, a voucher system whereby seniors would have medical vouchers for their care and it would be limited to pay for specifics, as proposed by Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., read about this here. Ending the current Medicare program for those born in 1957 and after, starting in 2022 when those turning 65 would obtain only $8,000 a year average for medical care as suggested by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s solution, check this idea out here.

Thousands of seniors say no to these changes and ideas check it out on this site. Medicare and Social Security have always appeared to be the dumping ground of these types of plans. Making us seniors feel expendable and unimportant. Seniors continue to ask themselves, “How can these politicians think raising out of pocket medical expenses with less income will help make a seniors life worthwhile?”

Agreeing to control Medicare and Medicaid fraud are the first big step and one that President Obama says he can stand behind, cut costs, not programs, see what Obama has to say here. My family pray daily that our lifestyle will not be put in a place where it will be necessary for us to depend on others or government programs just to survive.