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A disasterin the making

Published April 30. 2011 09:00AM

Dear Editor:

Representatives Lou Barletta, Patrick Meehan and Paul Ryan (R-WI) are all under fire about the latest attempt by the Republicans to radically "reform" Medicare.

In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law health care coverage for seniors in response to the unwillingness of the insurance industry to provide affordable health care to seniors. This program was called Medicare.

As you are aware the insurance companies are a "FOR PROFIT" industry and the programs they provide are based upon their so called "bottom line". For some unexplainable reason, our Republican friends seem to think that the health care companies have changed their priorities. Well, I and millions of other citizens know better. Isn't one of the main reasons for the Affordable Health Care Act that was passed last year a result of the unfair practices of discrimination by the health care industry? Why would our elected representatives think anything has changed? Have you seen or heard any health care organization step up and agree to offer affordable care to our seniors? No. And are our representatives offering any guarantee to the people that they will have access to affordable care with a voucher system? No. If I were 54 or under, I would be extremely apprehensive about changing the depth of coverage from guaranteed health insurance, which is what Medicare is to our seniors, to a system of "here's some money, go to private insurance and see what kind of coverage you can get" program.

I recently watched a show where the former RNC chairman, Michael Steele, was asked this simple question.. What happens to a senior when the voucher isn't large enough to cover the services and treatments needed? His answer.. "Well, we don't know". This answer was one of the most honest responses I have heard in years from our politically involved friends.

Claims that the program is unsustainable is a fallacious statement and is being used to create fear and scare people into believing there is no other road to follow. There are other roads. For instance, what about the path of eliminating the free run the insurance industry has had for decades, charging what they determine justifiable in premiums and covering what and who they want. They set their own priorities regardless of the negative effects to their subscribers. The "Affordable Health Care Act" addresses many of these outrageous practices which they use to deny health care to certain citizens namely our frail and sickly seniors.

For Mr. Barletta to suggest that people under 55, who may have been working for 35yrs and contributing to medicare haven't "earned" the right to guaranteed health care as a senior is just plain wrong. I don't hear Mr. Barletta or Mr. Meehan or any other representative who supports Rep. Paul Ryan's plan talking about guaranteeing health care to these hard working citizens, only guaranteeing vouchers. Who's to say in 5 years we won't hear the same old pitch that things have changed and now we need to cut back on the amount of the vouchers, because it's just "unsustainable" and that the level of benefits must, once again at the sacrifice of the working class be downgraded and minimized.

The fact is that the insurance industry has no interest in insuring the elderly because it's not profitable - plain and simple. Regardless of what Mr. Barletta says, the Republicans are the ones playing the fear card. The fact is that the Medicare Program has been in their crosshairs since its inception as they view it as a socialistic program. They are now using the deficit as an excuse to finally dissolve a program they never supported regardless of the concerns their own constituents have should this healthcare end. Wouldn't finding a way of continuing this safety net and making it sustainable be a more realistic approach? Another simple fact is that even the young and healthy have a difficult time paying for health care because of the expense and the flat lining of wages for the middle income over the last decade..

To allow this much loved and necessary program to disintegrate would be a disaster in the making.

Any reforming of this plan should start with the insurance industry. Anyone who says that the government can't regulate an industry because we are a free and capitalistic society when it has been proven that it directly causes a negative impact on our citizens and our country, is mistaken. We have the's called voting. To quote Mr. Barletta, "any one who says otherwise is lying to you".


Janet Anderson

New Ringgold, Pa.

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