Barbara has something to celebrate and something to fear. She is 50, has bad arthritis, has had many blood clots, is unable to work and feels life has dealt her a bad hand. She has been in the hospital many times for life threatening problems and joint replacements. She worked for years until pain kept her from doing the heavy pushing she had to do.
She may have all these problems, but she has Medicare and Medicaid, programs that provide coverage for disabled people. Her life is limited, but she gets preventive services, health care, and hope for a life where she can play with her grandchildren and visit with her daughters.
She will be celebrating with millions of Americans on July 30th -- the anniversary of the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid. Her celebration may be short lived. The Ryan Republican budget supported by Romney proposes huge cuts in Medicaid and changes in Medicare that will result in a $6000 per year increase in out of pocket expenses for the average senior and disabled enrollee by 2022 over current expected increases. They want to change Medicare from a secure affordable program that gives people like Barbara peace of mind.
Instead, they want these most vulnerable people to pay more. Ryan wants to claim cost savings by shifting the costs to Barbara. Barbara worked hard all her life and had to quit at 40. After rent, she has $300 each month to eat and live on. There is no way she can pay an extra $6000 each year and still eat. She has no car, no cable and no extras. Getting to her daughter's house to see her grandchild in the next city is more of a stretch for her than for Representative Ryan to pay for a family trip to Europe. This makes me angry and makes Barbara distraught.
Just when Barbara's life was getting better with the addition of the Affordable Care Act that helps her pay for her medicines and provides her preventive services, Ryan and Romney are proposing that she pay more for her medicines, that she lose her preventive care and that she put all of her non-rent income into health expenses -- and more. This change is actually incompatible with life for her. Something has to give, and it will be her -- somehow.
So, when you hear those easy to say and non-sense focus group tested phrases -- government overreach, break dependence on government, cut government spending, and give job creators tax breaks -- understand those as code that means cutting taxes for people with incomes over a quarter million dollars a year, increases in taxes on working families, and gutting programs that give Barbara and all people like her a reasonable chance at a dignified life. We are better people than that.