– Organize Now
, part of Health Care for America Now (HCAN)
held a press conference at the Marks Street Senior Recreation Center today in reaction to last week’s House vote on the House Republican budget that abolishes Medicaid, Medicare and consumer benefits and protections under the new Affordable Care Act. Seniors, people with disabilities, children and families each described the impact of the Republican proposal, which passed the House by a vote of 235 to 193 last Friday and will be considered by the Senate in May, and then called on Senator Nelson to stop these dangerous proposals in the Senate. Organize Now was joined by the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, AFSCME, and retirees.
Republicans, led by Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), convert Medicaid into an underfunded “block grant.” Medicaid pays for two thirds of nursing home care and other expensive long-term care services for seniors and people with disabilities;. The Republicans would slash funding for Medicaid by 1.4 trillion dollars nationally, a loss of $87.7 billion in healthcare and nursing home benefits in Florida. The plan could force at least 951,622 Florida residents to lose services and be left on their own to pay for expensive life-saving services. The proposal also shifts huge costs onto states like Florida that are already struggling with balancing the budget. Under the “block grant”, federal matching funds would be eliminated and Florida would be its own to provide services to the sick and aging. And, since the number of elderly people who will need Medicaid is projected to skyrocket by 2030, Medicaid becomes even more critical since it covers long-term services like home care and nursing home care that Medicare won’t cover just as the need for these services continues to increase.
“Extremist politicians in Washington have their priorities upside down! Their plan [Ryan budget] ends the guaranteed coverage of Medicare that every worker has paid for. It replaces Medicare and Medicaid with limited benefits from a private insurance company,” said Joe Bowyer, an AFSCME retiree. “The Republican plan would increase premiums and out-of-pocket costs substantially for seniors and the disabled. And it would put us at the mercy of the insurance companies.”
But Ryan’s Republican budget doesn’t stop there. In additional to decimating Medicaid, the Republican budget plan would also privatize Medicare and eliminate the program’s guaranteed benefits. Instead, seniors would be given a voucher to purchase private insurance on their own. The value of the voucher would, however, not keep up with the cost of insurance premium increases over time leaving seniors to pay the difference. Currently, seniors pay about 25% of the cost of their health care, but under the voucher proposal, by 2030 seniors would pay 68% of their care. In addition, the Republican plan would increase costs 40% higher under their new plan than the current Medicare program.
“Turning over our Medicare to the private insurance companies only benefits the rich CEO’s who can’t wait to get their hands on our Medicare money! The Republicans want to put 60 million seniors at the mercy of private insurance companies not to lower costs, but just so they can shift costs to seniors, people with disabilities and the middle class. This Republican plan isn’t a “Plan for Prosperity” for us! All the prosperity is going to the big corporations and wealthiest 10% of Americans who are getting tax breaks while the rest of give up everything we’ve worked for and any security in our retirement,” said Tamecka Pierce, State President for Organize Now.
In addition to eliminating Medicaid and Medicare, under the Republican Ryan budget, seniors would lose the benefits and cost savings they gained over the past year under the Affordable Care Act which made significant improvements to Medicare including reduced prescription drug costs in Part D, free preventative screenings like mammograms and yearly check ups, and reduction of waste and abuse in the program. The Republican budget repeals these benefits as well the protection from insurance companies’ discrimination because of pre-existing conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes. The Republican proposal also force seniors to wait an additional two years to even qualify for Medicare since it would raise eligibility age from 65 to 67.
“Our hope is all focused on Senator Nelson at this point,” said Pierce, President of Organize Now. “Senator Nelson must stop these Republicans who would sacrifice the programs that are most important for seniors, people with disabilities, children and the middle class in order to give their corporate cronies and the richest Americans yet another tax break. For corporations and the wealthy, this budget is a “path to prosperity.” But for the rest of us, this path leads only to poverty for our families and communities. We’re calling on Senator Nelson to stand on side of his constituents and oppose these and all proposals that cap spending by putting more burdens on seniors and the middle class. Senator Nelson should be on our side, not on the side of wealthy special interests who have avoided paying their fair share for long enough.”
Organize Now was joined by the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, AFSCME and AFSCME retirees, concerned Orlando seniors and children who would be impacted directly by these destructive policies.
Organize Now is a not-for-profit, member-based, community organization dedicated to making Florida a better and fairer place for everyone to live, work, learn and play.