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Central MA Seniors Fear Medicare Uncertainty

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Seniors expressed their concerns over possible changes to Medicare and Social Security when they met with Democratic Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren's husband Bruce Mann during at a campaign stop in Shrewsbury on Wednesday.

Dawn Shannon, who worked for the town for 31 years, said for individuals on a fixed income, any changes to government programs can have a big impact. She characterized the two sides in the Massachusetts Senate race as night and day when it comes to issues important to seniors.

"Medicare, to me, is my life," said Dorothy Thyden, 82, of Shrewsbury, during lunch at Dean Park Pizza on Main Street.

Thyden said lawmakers in Washington have to do something to address the future of Medicare, but the program is too important to too many people to scale back. She said she felt bad for her adult children because, while one will be covered, the other may miss out on coverage if the Medicare system is not fixed soon.

"Medicare, to me, is my life."

Mann pointed out that Republican Senator Scott Brown has said that he wants to repeal President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act and that he hasn't given any indication of what would go in its place.

"That would be disastrous for our seniors."

Brown has expressed a desire to repeal Obamacare due to its tax increases and has advocated for leaving comprehensive healthcare reforms up to the states to allow them to decide what best suits their needs on an individual basis, much like the Commonwealth's own 2006 healthcare reform law.

But Mann said that even with the Massachusetts healthcare laws in place, residents would suffer from a repeal of Obamacare.

"Without the Affordable Care Act, the seniors who've been watching the donut hole close will find it wide open again," he said, noting that they would not be entitled to annual screenings.

"The Republican platform has as its logical conclusion making Medicare an unworkable unaffordable system that will not be there for seniors."

Medicare is a system that works, Mann argued, and if something needs to be fixed with the system, it would be to control healthcare costs, not to make cuts in benefits to seniors.

When asked in her last debate with Brown which two government programs she would not cut, Warren responded with Medicare and Social Security.

The Brown campaign argued in a new television ad that Warren supports cutting more than $700 billion from Medicare as part of the Affordable Care Act's provisions.

"It defies logic to think cutting more than $700 billion from a current program to pay for new one would somehow strengthen Medicare," said Alleigh Marré, press secretary for the Brown campaign.

"Warren's plans to cut Medicare would decimate Medicare Advantage, a program that nearly 200,000 Massachusetts seniors were enrolled in during 2011. There is only one candidate in this race who will protect Medicare, and that's Scott Brown."

Warren refuted the claim during her third debate with Brown in Springfield earlier this month.

The $716 billion in question is how much more the country would spend on Medicare over a decade if the Affordable Care Act were repealed, according to a letter from the Congressional Budget Office to Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner.

The reductions would not come in the form of cuts to existing spending but through reducing the future growth of Medicare costs. 


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