December 4, 2013

Milwaukee Courier

Legislatively Speaking: Coming Together to Make a Difference

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

On Monday, December 9th at 10 a.m. Congresswomen Gwen Moore, Wisconsin seniors and families, and myself are hosting a rally and public forum on our national health care crisis. This public forum is increasingly important as the House and Senate Budget Committees are meeting now and considering raising Medicare beneficiary costs, ordering cuts to Social Security and Head Start, and reducing Medicaid funding, nutrition services and other human needs. We need to save these programs from these harmful cuts; we also need to reduce the potential burden these cuts will have on our seniors, the disabled, and families throughout the United States.

There are various proposals that cut social security, Medicare and Medicaid funding. One proposal plans to reduce projected benefits for the most vulnerable Americans who are least able to afford it through using the “chained” Consumer Price Index (CPI) to calculate Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, military and federal civilian retirement and veterans’ benefits cost-of-living adjustments. Though this proposal will lower national debt, it places an unfair burden on seniors through factoring in the disproportionate amount they spend on health care.

Another proposal is one that shifts costs to Medicare beneficiaries. This proposal not only harms seniors through its increased beneficiary cost sharing which will most likely lead many seniors to forego necessary care, it also harms health care providers, as the treatments people chose to forego will result in more costly and serious health conditions.

Consider the consequences of yet another proposal which harms Americans by raising the Medicare eligibility age. This proposal shifts the costs to others through by the eligibility age and placing the cost burden on older adults, aged 65 and 66. Through this proposal, these adults are projected to face an average of $2,200 per year in out-of-pocket costs.

Another program that does not address rising health costs or save the cost burden from those who are most vulnerable to the costs of health care is the Medicaid block grants, per capita caps and blended rates proposal. This proposal seriously restricts our health care system and jeopardizes the quality of our care.  

I support proposals that strengthen our Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs. Through raising the Social Security Cap on earnings, we could eliminate 95% of the current shortfall. Through requiring drug manufacturers to provide rebates for drugs used by beneficiaries who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, our country could experience estimated savings of $137 billion over ten years. Similarly, through building on the Affordable Care Act, we could improve quality and reduce costs, as the ACA includes provisions that effectively change the way care is delivered and paid for.  

There are proposals that harm seniors, families, and the disabled through cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; however, there are also proposals that do the complete opposite, through strengthening these programs.

 It is our responsibility to point politicians in the right direction. Please join us on December 9th to increase the dialogue, awareness, and education surrounding these proposals and our national health care crisis. The forum will be held at the Milwaukee Brotherhood of Firefighters Hall, 7717 W. Good Hope Road, and is brought to you in association with the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans, the Children’s Leadership Council, the Coalition on Human Needs, Every Child Matters Education Fund, and Network- A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby.

We need to come together to make a difference. “I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers” (John 1:2). As always, I am here to serve!