An overflow crowd of more than 30 filled the small Board Room at Rep. Tom Reed’s Town Hall Meting in Barrington (Yates) Saturday. Most were non-republicans. For many this was their first Town Hall experience.
Medicare dominated the discussion. The uncertainty of the path our new congress is going take Medicare fueled the concerns. Rep. Reed didn’t help us feel comfortable about our future.
He started out by explaining that there are two battles in changing Medicare—1) The Insurance Companies and 2) the high cost of health care. The way to win the Insurance Companies battle, or the way for the government reduces its payments to the insurance companies, is to issue vouchers (the GOP calls them “premium support payments”) to Medicare recipients. Then we would choose which insurance plan is best for us, and, if we are able to, add money to the voucher to attain the coverage we really need. Reed did not attempt to explain how the amount of the voucher would be determined.
Please realize that the “government money” that goes to Medicare is the 1.45% deducted from our salaries from our first teenage jobs to any work we do after we retire. What this Congress is really concerned about is the matching funds our employers pay. That is what they want to reduce.
Rep. Reed chose his words carefully when he spoke on lowering the cost of health care. He briefly mentioned that the most expensive health care happens near the end of life. He the went on to try to find “common ground” that we could all agree on. He began to list “waste, fraud, and malpractice law suits.” That statement sparked a lively discussion on “frivolous” lawsuits. Reed also pointed to different ways to reduce the reimbursements to physicians and hospitals. He gave no real details, but told us that congressional members are looking into ways to reduce that funding. How will that affect our local hospitals?
A member of the audience who lost a brother a year ago to cancer, and whose mother is presently being treated for cancer, lead the discussion on the emotional drainage and the high cost of Stage 4 Cancer. She was very concerned that the vouchers would not cover the needed treatment. Reed responded that there would have to be a plan made early in her treatment to determine the path her physician will take when the patient (family member) enters the final stage. To some audience members that part of the discussion reminded us of the Death Panels that the GOP used as a scare technique in 2010’s anti-Obamacare campaign.
Rep. Reed foresees that Congress will act on Medicare in March, 2017. As you can see from the table below almost half of the residents of our Congressional District are on Medicare. They need to be made aware of the changes the congress plans to make before it is done deal.
To find the population for each county I googled the county name for example, “Yates County NY population“. (After you google Yates County, you can substitute any county you would like.)’]= The results provided an interactive graph which will show the County’s population from 1970 to the present.
For a more detailed article on the proposed Medicare changes follow this link.
Mobilizing all the medicare recipients in the district to bypass Reed and go with our Senators.
I attended the 8:30 Town Hall in Horseheads on Saturday. When Reed opened the discussion on the priorities for the 115th Congress, which was part of a package he handed out, the missing issue of the environment/global warming was raised as he had not listed it. After several more questions to the environmental issue, Reed asked that everyone who had the environment as a top issue stand up. About 90% of those there stood up. Reed quickly moved the meeting to another topic.
In the past (I have gone to a lot of these Town Hall meetings), we have been a passive audience. This time at the beginning when a man made a thoughtful, informed statement on the collapsing middle class, applause broke out. Many times after that there was clapping to express support of a statement.
We need to stand up and not let Reed go back to Congress holding the opinion we approve of his actions and positions. We need to support those among us who speak well and with authority.
We need to be active.
“They tried to bury us but they did not know we were seeds”
I’m sorry I couldn’t get to the meeting Sat. It helps to know there are others here who share my views, and I’m not a lonesome voice in the wilderness. I definitely want to take a more active role in our local Democratic Committee.
Thank you for this article. Unfortunately, Reed’s idea of lowering health care costs is to reduce corporate matches to the 1.45% deducted from our paychecks. No one seems to be focusing on the root cause of high healthcare costs. That is the widely varying costs across the nation for a health service to the patient. This is the result of Reed’s narrow vision that he represents wealthy interests, not his constituents…the citizens who consume healthcare services.
Anne, Thanks for the encouraging comment. I, too, have gone to many Town Hall meetings, but mine were usually in the rural towns and the audiences seemed in awe of having a congressman in their area. They believed everything Reed would say. This meeting was different. The meeting was held in a small room where their Board usually meets, even though there is a much larger room down stairs here they hold elections and where the Court takes place. They only had five rows with four seats in each row. They added a sixth row, and there were a half s dozen standing. The audience were there not to just take in his wisdom, but to tell him what they thought. Medicare, like the environment, is not a Democrat or Republican issue. (Although the environment does compete with businesses) In order to win in Yates County, and probably most of our District, we need to get as many as possible to understand how the issues affect them. We’re starting soon. Reed has an office in Geneva, we are planning events to focus on Medicare/ACA/Trump’s Tax Plan/Climate/Universal Background check/ and other issues that a majority of the people feel are important. You are right. We need to be active.
Barb, you are not a lonesome voice, you’ll be part of a large chorus. I’ll make sure you are on our email list.
Whatever you call them, vouchers aren’t part of a health care system–they serve to put the burden of insurance on individual people. The GOP’s concept would take us back to the past of relentlessly rising costs and millions of uninsured.
This is sickening. Add money to our own vouchers? Is Reed aware that many if not most are living on their Social Security benefits as it is? So Reed want’s them to choose to eat, pay their bills, or have healthcare..can’t have all three.
Rep Alan Grayson said it bet on the House floor ” The Republican Plan for health care is this:
don’t get sick… If you do get sick.. die quickly.”
Thank you to all who participated in the town halls. I hope more voices will get louder.
I attended my first town hall meeting on Saturday morning in Horseheads. I live in Ithaca. We did have a discussion about medicare at our meeting as well, and also talked about the recent bill proposed in the House to cut Social Security. see analysis here http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/republican-bill-social-security-cuts.
I did n’t realize the 23rd had so many people on medicare! This has to be how we flip the seat! power in numbers – !
Almost everybody in the NY23rd must know, and care for, someone on Medicare. Some will trust that the government will do the right thing. Some will believe Reed and others that you have to change it to save it. Believe me, as William Hungerford said, “Vouchers aren’t part of the health care system–they serve to put the burden of insurance on individual people.” We have to get the word out before they work on it in March. They want to change it soon so people will forget about it in 2018.
pystew, since you are a retired school teacher would you mind sharing some full disclosure with the rest of us abnd save me teh time of researching Open NY? What is your pension and how is your healthcare being handled thru your pension?
Those lucky enough to have pensions, let alone those that provide for healthcare, are very few. This has nothing to do with our common need for medicare. No one can predict future needs, so insurance available to all is essential to our well-being.
First of all, there is no reason for me to be transparent. The soon to be President-elect of the United States (he is not President-elect until the Electoral College votes) has not released his taxes like he told us he would. We need to know his business contacts that taxes would provide much more than the readers of this blog need to know mine. Why would I provide my personal information? I am not paid for this gig. Matter of fact I lose money with this blog.
With that being said If you are worried that the tax payers of the Penn Yan School district are paying, or paid for my health insurance after I was retired, you are wrong. When I retired from the teaching (June 2006) I had over unused 200 sick days. I received $0 for those days. I could get my health insurance through the school, but I would have to pay full price for it, which I did. I ended up paying just over $900 a month for a family policy. After about a year and a half, my situation changed and I found another, more affordable, health insurance source.
I will be on Medicare as of January 1, 2017. I will deal with the Donut Hole beginning in April, where I will be paying a much higher cost for my medicines. Why? Because the Congress negotiated with the Insurance Industry and the people lost. The GOP will use the voucher like they use the Donut Hole, a way to have the individual (who had 1.45% of my salary for 34 years of teaching deducted for my Medicare) to pay more. If the system needs the money, they could raise the deductions a little, but guess what? That means that the employer would have to match that rate, Good gravy, that would cut into their profits.
If you want to figure out my pension, don’t be lazy, go to Open NY.
Thanks for caring.