Advocates Join Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) to Speak Against Medicare Cuts, Release 150,000 Petitions

March 19, 2014

March 19, 2014

For Immediate Release

(Washington, DC) Today, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) co-hosted a telephone press conference call with the Medicare Rights Center and Social Security Works releasing 150,000 petition signatures against means testing Medicare and urging President Obama to drop support of Medicare cuts.  Alliance for Retired Americans activist Charlie Hogan explained on the call what Medicare cuts, including further means testing Medicare, would mean for retirees in Illinois and nationwide.

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky explained that her constituents and most Americans receiving Medicare are in no position financially to afford further means testing of the program. She noted “At least one in five seniors are already cutting back on health care because they can’t afford it.”

Charlie Hogan, Alliance for Retired Americans member and President of AFSCME Retiree sub-chapter 161 from Chicago said, “If we didn't have Medicare, if we didn't have insurance at work, we'd lose our homes, we'd lose everything.” Mr. Hogan, a veteran, stressed that the retirees of today and tomorrow contributed to our Medicare and Social Security and they are an earned benefit and a promise that shouldn’t be broken.

Stacy Sanders, Federal Policy Director for the Medicare Rights Center explained three important facts about further means testing Medicare:

1)    Medicare is already means-tested. In other words, wealthy Medicare beneficiaries are already paying more for their Medicare premiums;
2)    Further means-testing means higher health care costs for the middle class; and
3)    More means testing would undermine the universality and integrity of Medicare.

Dr. Ben Veghte, Research Director for Social Security Works, pointed out that the average senior's Social Security benefits are equivalent to a minimum wage income, about $15,000/year. He also said, “Indirectly, Social Security benefits have been cut by rising out-of-pocket health care costs over the last two decades. Today, out-of-pocket health care costs eat up over a third of the Social Security check of the average senior.” He added, “Our health care system is currently twice as expensive as most other Western countries’, there are a number of proposals that would reduce health care costs, not just shift costs onto seniors,” and further means testing Medicare is “bad public policy in all respects.”

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Contact: Laura Markwardt – 202-637-5178 / lmarkwar@retiredamericans.org

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