July 31, 2012 —
Congressman Maurice Hinchey noted that everyone at some point needs healthcare, and without it, he would have died from the colon cancer he suffered with. Fortunately, two operations to address the problem last summer were successful, and though he will be retiring at the end of the year, he plans to remain active in matters that have long interested him. One of those is the strengthening of Medicare, which turned 47 years old on July 30.
Hinchey made the remarks when he addressed a group of seniors at a meeting of the Senior Legislative Action Committee (SLAC) on July 27 at the Ted Stroeble Recreation Center in Monticello. He said that, before Medicare came into existence during the administration of President Lyndon Johnson, only 51% of residents over age 65 had any medical coverage, “but now virtually all residents over 65 have coverage.”
Hinchey, a Democrat, criticized his Republican counterparts in the House in Washington, DC, who “passed a plan that fundamentally transforms Medicare from a guaranteed benefit program into a privatized voucher program for all those now under 55. The amount of the proposed voucher would grow more slowly than health care costs. As a result, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the House Republican plan would “increase seniors’ health care costs by thousands of dollars a year.”
While introducing Hinchey, Priscilla Bassett, co-chair of SLAC, said that Medicare was not perfect because it does not cover many procedures related to vision, hearing and dentistry, but that it is still vital for the health and well being of seniors in the United States.