This “op-ed” was written by Ann Sullivan, an Ithaca resident. It was originally published in the Ithaca Journal and the Elmira Star-Gazette.
Elections have consequences. Voters in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes chose President-elect Donald Trump and returned Rep. Tom Reed to office.
As candidates, both were open about their disdain for the Affordable Care Act and pledged to kill it. Some regret that thousands of our neighbors might lose medical coverage, but we cannot say they were not warned.
Medicare, however, is another story. Neither President-elect Trump nor Congressman Reed were truthful with the voters in this regard.
Beginning Jan. 21, President Trump, and the Republican-led House and Senate plan to begin the systematic destruction of Medicare. Seniors currently enrolled will stay on Medicare. For anyone younger than 55, however, a new program will provide vouchers toward the purchase of private health insurance. Vouchers will replace an efficient and well-run single-payer system that currently insures almost all older Americans.
By 55, a significant number of Americans have developed diseases or conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer that make them uninsurable were it not for Medicare. Even with vouchers, private insurance offered to people with these conditions most likely will be financially out of reach for most seniors. Quite literally, in 20 years, Southern Tier residents now in their early 50s might be choosing whether to buy food or medicine on retirement incomes.
According to calls constituents have made to his Corning office, Congressman Reed stands firmly with Speaker Paul Ryan and has enthusiastically signed on to “save” Medicare by privatizing it. Unlike Congressman Reed would have us believe, however, Medicare is not going broke. Some adjustments are necessary to ensure its financial health, but they are relatively minor.
The real problem President-elect Trump, Speaker Ryan and Congressman Reed face is paying for the enormous proposed tax cuts to the top 5 percent of American taxpayers. Seniors have paid into the Medicare Trust Fund for decades. Now, the Republican-controlled Congress plans to pick working people’s pockets to subsidize tax cuts.
The Southern Tier did vote for change when Donald Trump carried the district. Is this the change for which we voted? I doubt it.
Only a concerted effort by voters of all political parties and persuasions can push back against this assault on a program that is popular, financially sound and which has insured a dignified old age for all Americans for generations. Stand up for Medicare by calling Congressman Reed and demand that Medicare not be privatized!
It is time for the residents of the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes to speak with one voice to Congressman Reed. Let him know that Medicare is not on the table, not this year, not next year, not ever.
- Washington (202) 225-3161
- Corning–(607) 654-7566
- Olean—(716) 379-8434
- Jamestown (607) 654-7566
- Geneva (315) 759-5229
- Ithaca (607) 222-2027