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Open Letter: Saving Medicare Is About Being Super

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On Wednesday Nov. 9th, SEIU United Long Term Care Workers and a group of partner organizations sent the below letter to members of the Super Committee. We are now publishing said letter to ensure transparency on behalf of our members, seniors, the disabled, their families, working people and those who depend on the critical services provided by Medicare.

To members of the Congressional Super Committee,

As you deliberate on solutions to the national debt, we encourage you to use your conscious as your compass. Test your proposals against some key fundamental questions that represent the values of this country and its people.

What is the human cost to what you may be proposing? How does your decision help to promote job creation; hold true to valuing our seniors and disabled; move us closer to our goal of a healthier society for every man, woman and child by extending health care to all?

As our nation faces a 9.1% unemployed rate that affects 14 million people, cutting Medicaid funding would only increase these numbers. If Medicaid were cut at 5% an additional 250,000 American jobs would be eliminated. Cutting the program at 15% would result in 748,000 jobs being eliminated nationwide.

These programs are the safety nets that provide essential, comprehensive healthcare to our most vulnerable Americans. They are not Republican or Democrat issues -- they are programs of importance to all Americans regardless of party lines or personal beliefs.

We know the Republican plan is to cut $500 billion from Medicare and $185 billion from Medicaid over the next ten years -- which reduces the deficit by $2.2 million, but at the same time, severely jeopardizing the lives of millions of American people.

How is this at all fair?

In an op-ed earlier this summer, Warren Buffet who is practically pleading to be taxed more and is estimated to be worth $47 billion, wrote in the New York Times: "While most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks."

Why the steadfast and vehement opposition in increasing taxes on the super wealthy? Why the continued march towards the elimination of the American middle class?

We also know that some Democrats have proposed $1.3 trillion in higher tax revenue, yet also want to cut $400 billion in Medicare -- half of which are cuts to benefits and the other half are cuts to healthcare providers. All the while, supporting a $450 million jobs bill that President Obama is recommending.

The confusion, political posturing and bickering surrounding healthcare and the budget is exhausting, infuriating, and above all else, a complete disgrace.

This is not a game. There are real lives at stake.

We strive to be a nation of good will towards our neighbors across the world, yet right here at home, we are capable of leaving the most vulnerable and the most in need out in the cold.

A Super Committee with Super Problems needs Super Solutions.

Super Committee, see and reach beyond the beltway, talk to real Americans and ensure that your legislative process is creating more jobs, not eliminating them. That should be the true measure of success.

Throughout all of your discussions surrounding cuts to spending, you must remember one key fact: Americans are living longer. Experts have called this upcoming ready-to-retire wave of seniors the "Silver Tsunami" -- which will undoubtedly be more dependent on Medicare and Medicaid than ever before.

As our population ages, we cannot ship our seniors and disabled overseas -- their care is our responsibility.

In addition to the millions of jobs being lost and sinking our economy even further, cuts to Medicaid would severely impact the essential services that seniors, the disabled and children rely on to remain healthy.

While we face a clear problem in reducing our national debt, here lies an opportunity to be innovative in the face of hardship.

Cutting Medicare and Medicaid, and thereby eliminating jobs and leaving seniors, those with disabilities and children without proper care is not a future we want for our country.

Enough is enough.

Say NO to Medicare and Medicaid cuts and say YES to providing quality care and YES to quality job creation and real innovation.

Be the Super Committee we all want you to be.

Signers:
AFSCME United Domestic Workers
Association of California Caregiver Resource Centers
California Alliance of Retired Americans
Congress of California Seniors
California United Homecare Workers
Junior Blind of America
SEIU United Health Care Workers West
SEIU United Long Term Care Workers
Special Needs Network
St. John Well Child and Family Center