On Medicare’s 49th birthday, Wednesday, July 30, the Campaign for a Healthy California plans actions in 15 cities throughout California to celebrate Medicare’s successful provision of guaranteed health care to millions of elderly senior and disabled Americans for nearly half a century.
These actions will underscore the need to protect, improve and expand Medicare at a time when it is under attack, with efforts in Congress and the White House to reduce coverage, raise the eligibility age, eliminate providers and turn Medicare into a voucher program.
“It’s very important for people to remember that the Medicare program has been in existence for 49 years and that’s long enough to see that it works. We don’t want it privatized because we know that the proposed schemes, such as vouchers, will hurt many people,” said Myrtle Braxton, Vice President of California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA).
“Medicare’s birthday is a time to reflect on what works and what doesn’t. While the ACA extended health coverage to a number of low and moderate -income individuals and families, there are still far too many people who remain uninsured or inadequately covered,” said Martha Kuhl, RN, CNA treasurer and a Children’s Hospital RN in Oakland, who represents CNA in the coalition. “We need guaranteed universal coverage with a single standard of high quality care that is not based on ability to pay. Medicare’s terrific track record indicates that is best achieved through single payer reform, and expanding and updating Medicare to cover all Americans,” said Kuhl.
This week’s anniversary events coincide with the release of a new report Monday by trustees for Medicare and Social Security showing the trust fund that pays for Medicare is in much better shape than the doom and gloom predictions of the budget cutters and legislators who favor cutting benefits, raising the eligibility age or privatization. Now the trustees say that Medicare is on solid financial footing through 2030. The best way to further improve the funding, says CNA, is to expand the risk pool by adding more healthy people, as in extending the eligibility age to cover everyone.
“We are also trying to draw attention to how the 10% cuts, made in March 2013, are currently hurting people who are trying to access their Medicare benefits,” said Myrtle Braxton. “For example, where I live in Richmond, the cuts have further reduced access to the Social Security office, which administers Medicare benefits in addition to Social Security benefits. The office was already inaccessible to people who don’t have cars and now, with cuts in staff and hours, it’s impossible to reach people on the phone and many poor people, disabled and seniors don’t have computer access so that’s not an option for them,” said Braxton, who is also Chairperson of the Health Ministry at Easter Hill United Methodist Church in Richmond, CA.
July 30th actions will be taking place in: Berkeley, Modesto, Fresno, Oakland, Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Diego, Richmond, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, San Bernardino, Bakersfield, Stockton, and Walnut Creek. For more information on attending an event near you, view the list of event details or call 213-359-3997.