Cuts to Medicare ‘Disastrous for Illinois’

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Nearly 1,500 members of the Jane Addams Senior Caucus (JASC), rallied downtown to protest proposed cuts to Social Security and the rising costs of Medicare, Medicaid. Following a rally outside the office of Sens. Mark Kirk (D) and Dick Durbin (D), the group proceeded to Federal Plaza, where over forty senior participants linked arms to block an intersection.

This week, Latinos for a Secure Retirement and the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans released a new report, The High Cost to Illinois of Raising the Medicare Age, which details the effects of increasing Medicare eligibility age to 67. “Before Medicare was signed into law in 1965, seniors over struggled to access and afford healthcare,” said Executive Director of Latinos for a Secure Retirement and author of the new report Jeff Cruz. “For the past 46 years, Medicare has protected seniors, keeping millions out of poverty. It has contained health care costs more than the private sector.” Cruz stated raising the eligibility from 65 to 67 would cost the average Illinois resident nearly $7,600 over their lifetime. “Some politicians want to increase the eligibility age for Medicare and shift the increased costs onto individuals, employers, and taxpayers,” said Cruz.

The Super Committee in Washington, charged with reducing the federal deficit, is currently considering significant changes to Medicare, including raising the eligibility age. Increasing the Medicare eligibility age to 67 would increase overall health care costs and shift these increased expenses to individuals, employers and state governments. Taking into account additional costs to individuals, Illinois employers and businesses, and the Illinois state government; raising the Medicare eligibility age would cost Illinois around $524 million per year. The Medicare Prescription Drug Savings and Choice Act of 2011 introduced by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) would save Medicare at least $20 billion per year by creating a Medicare-administered Part D prescription drug benefit which is able to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices. “The proposed changes in Medicare would be harmful to the Illinois health care delivery system, shift costs to patients and reduce access to care,” said State Representative Jan Schakowsky. “Increasing the eligibility age for Medicare is just another attack on a program millions of Americans rely on and cherish. There are serious ways to reduce Medicare spending, such as requiring CMS to negotiate Medicare Part D prescription drug prices, combating Medicare fraud and abuse, and improving efficiencies, without passing the buck to seniors and needlessly putting their health and financial security at risk.”

Comments are closed.