Capitol Hill is on a reckless one way path to cuts, including deep and dangerous cuts to health care programs for seniors, working families, and people with disabilities. Today, at the Veronica Smith Senior Center in Brighton, Congressman Edward Markey joined the Massachusetts Coalition for a Working Economy, in calling on Congress to stand up against deep and damaging cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
"The Republican budget is a disaster for seniors, children and vulnerable Americans who rely on Medicare and Medicaid. It cuts off help for Grandma and Grandpa to pay for their prescriptions but lavishes tax cuts on Big Oil and billionaires," declared Congressman Markey. "Republicans are trying to turn Medicare into Medicare-LESS -- they couldn't care LESS about the health and well-being of our seniors. I will continue to fight against the misguided Republican budget so we can protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security now and into the future."
Republicans in the House of Representatives are advocating disastrous cuts that would fundamentally change Medicare and Medicaid as we know it and that millions have come to rely upon.
"I worked hard my entire life and I'm still struggling to pay for my healthcare which already goes up every year," declared Ruth Chaiton, a senior. "Now Congress thinks I should pay more out of my pocket and give me less coverage. What problem is that solving?"
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the total health care costs attributable to Medicare beneficiaries would be twice as high under the private insurance plans they would be forced to purchase under the Republican proposal.
The fight is not just about the skyrocketing costs being pushed on to seniors, families, and people with disabilities. Significant and inexcusable cuts threaten individuals and families eligibility for medical service. That is why health care providers are also speaking out today in Brighton, including Ana Brito of 1199SEIU, a Personal Care Attendant and Dr. Jessica Eng of Boston Medical Center.
"House Republicans' planned cuts to Medicaid and Medicare would be absolutely devastating to homecare services for seniors and people with disabilities. As a personal care attendant, every day I see how important these services are to seniors and people with disabilities," stated Ana Brito. "It's absolutely unacceptable for Congress to even consider cutting these vital safety net programs. Too many people depend on them."
"People's health should not be viewed as something easy to cut," said Dr. Eng. "It seems that Washington is making decisions without even attempting to understand the damage they could inflict."
Some lawmakers appear more concerned with ensuring that highest income earners keep their tax cuts than for those who the economic crisis hit hardest, and the programs that are needed now more than ever. While the Republican proposal protects corporate tax subsidies and loopholes for big oil companies, 26 billion dollars in Medicaid funding for Massachusetts will be lost over the next ten years.
"With deep cuts to Medicare and Medicaid as well as the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the federal budget proposed in the U.S. House would be a disaster for Massachusetts' working families," said Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, Executive Director of Health Care For All, an organization dedicated to expanding health care access and affordability for Massachusetts residents. "Turning Medicaid into a block grant program would mean losing over a billion dollars of federal support for Massachusetts every year, and would undermine our ability to provide health care to our residents and adequately reimburse providers."
"It seems that families like mine continue to be forgotten by politicians," expressed Maria Amezquita, a mother concerned about her family's health care coverage and costs. "We've been struggling through these tough times and now we have another burden to bear. It's not fair that all the sacrifice is coming from middle class families."
The Massachusetts Coalition for a Working Economy is a newly formed alliance of healthcare, senior, education, housing, labor, and other advocacy groups focused on promoting federal policy that creates good jobs and strengthens public services through investment in communities.