As an elder law attorney for several years and a former Surrogate of Monmouth County I am very concerned about the threat to Medicare and Medicaid which the Republican candidates for President and Vice President pose to the future of these programs.

In both 2011 and 2012 Paul Ryan presented budgets to the Congress (which every Republican lawmaker has signed and Governor Romney has endorsed) ending Medicare as we know it and substituting in its place a “voucher” or “premium support” program.  This means that the government no longer pays for the hospital and physician expenses of recipients but now gives each senior citizen an amount of money to go out into the marketplace with private insurance companies providing coverage based on the amount someone can pay and ( if “Obamacare” is repealed) on the pre-existing condition of the individual seeking insurance.  Then, each year you’ll get an additional amount tied to inflation even through the cost of health insurance rises far greater than the level of inflation.  Therefore, if you want better care than your government stipend will allow, you’ll have to pay more out of your own pocket or go without.  The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) calculates the immediate effect at $6,400.00 per person.

And, if that were not enough to cause concern, the (Romney) Ryan budget cuts $800 billion to the states for Medicaid.  That means that nursing homes will not be getting the funding necessary to cover their occupants.  Moreover, with more people  living longer and less families able to care for elderly loved ones there will be no place for them to go.  The effects on the senior population (of which I am one) and their families will be devastating. 

And, if “Obamacare” is repealed, seniors will pay 100% of prescription drug expenses in the “donut hole” ($2,840 to $4,550) where Medicare now pays 50% and in a few years will pay 100%.

Finally, they argue these programs will go bankrupt if we don’t change them; but, they’ve been making that claim for decades trying to end what they say is “socialized medicine”  in this country.  It hasn’t happened.  If the wealthy paid their fair share of taxes and the Congress stopped raiding the funds from these programs, they will continue as they have for the past 47 years.

I think if you or anyone you know and love are receiving or may receive the benefits of Medicare and Medicaid you cannot afford not to vote for President Obama and the other Democratic candidates running for election this year.

Your future depends on it!

Patricia A. Bennett
Red Bank, NJ