U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and the AARP highlighted the harsh and negative impacts of the proposed privatization of Medicare and enormous rollbacks of nursing home and home-based care today at the Busansky Senior Center in Tampa. Castor and Jack McRay, state advocacy manager of AARP, noted the severe impact of the GOP plan on the Tampa Bay area and Florida families.
"The GOP plan that passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week breaks the promise of Medicare and exacts massive cuts to elder initiatives for home-based care and nursing care," Castor said. "Families across our community would struggle to remain in the middle class as thousands of dollars in costs would be shifted to our older neighbors and to families. This is a recipe for disaster."
Last week, the U.S. House approved the Republican budget. The GOP House budget establishes the parameters for the specific appropriations bills for FY2013 that will be debated in the coming months.
The budget dismantles Medicare as we know it, shifts substantial costs to seniors and slashes current benefits. The House Republican budget sets up a voucher framework under which seniors would face higher premiums and fewer benefits. At the same time, the GOP budget protects millionaires and corporate tax loopholes and subsidies, including those to oil companies.
"The Republican budget breaks the fundamental promise this country has made to generations of Americans," Castor said. "The promise is that if you work hard and pay into Medicare, it will be there for you in your retirement and allow you to live your retirement years in dignity. The Republican budget breaks this promise and will put Floridians at risk of falling out of the middle class.
"Medicare is a pillar of retirement security that keeps older Americans out of poverty," Castor continued. "A diagnosis of Alzheimer's, cancer or other diseases can bankrupt a family. Medicare, if left intact, ensures that families remain free from economic ruin."
The budget plan also cuts Medicaid, which many of our older neighbors and their families rely upon for long-term care in nursing homes. The proposal would raise the cost of nursing home care for millions of families, reduce the quality of nursing home care and slash support to help the disabled lead productive, independent lives.
Jack McRay of AARP said his organization has "grave concerns" about the Republican Medicare and Medicaid plans. Money will be taken from the pockets of seniors, he said. "People worked all their lives with the understanding Medicare would be there," McRay said. "This program suggested in the House is absolutely headed in the wrong direction."