Medicare under threat: now's the time to speak out

July 13, 2011

Dear PNHP colleagues and friends,

With the 46th anniversary of Medicare only a few weeks away (July 30), the program is in serious danger. PNHP members are encouraged to join our special Thursday night conference call with former Medicare head Bruce Vladeck (details below) to learn more, and to speak out in their communities on the issue, including via letters to the editor.

You may have seen the Washington Post story last week that said, “President Obama is pressing congressional leaders to consider a far-reaching debt-reduction plan that would force Democrats to accept major changes to Social Security and Medicare in exchange for Republican support for fresh tax revenue,” and as that part of his pitch he’s proposing “significant reductions in Medicare spending.”

Yesterday’s New York Times reports that the president has “agreed to consider a change in Medicare, which would have pushed up the eligibility requirement for recipients from the age of 65 to 67.” Others, such as Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., have made similar proposals and are also pushing for increased cost-sharing by Medicare beneficiaries, e.g. much higher deductibles for doctors’ visits.

Such measures would unquestionably reduce access to health care by our nation’s elderly and severely disabled, worsen their health outcomes and increase financial hardship.

Still worse, others such as Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., would dismantle the Medicare program altogether, replacing it with vouchers to buy private insurance.

As you know, PNHP has joined with others in calling for the protection of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, even as we have pointed out their limitations and advocated for a single-payer national health insurance program, an improved Medicare for all, as the best way to assure truly universal coverage and control costs.

We urge you to speak out on this issue and to submit a letter to the editor or an opinion piece to your local newspaper along these lines. You can find tips on how to do so here. Already a number of PNHP activists had their comments published, as illustrated by this op-ed by Dr. Jim Recht in Massachusetts and this letter by Ann Molison in Colorado.

This Thursday night, July 14, PNHP is hosting a special conference call on the status of Medicare featuring Bruce Vladeck, Ph.D., at 9 p.m. Eastern time. Vladeck, the former top administrator of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, will be followed by several PNHP national board members who will lead a discussion on “Medicare and single payer.” Dr. Claudia Fegan, past president of PNHP, will moderate the call. RSVP today and get call-in details by clicking here!


Garrett Adams, M.D., M.P.H.

P.S. In case you missed our recent announcement, PNHP’s Annual Meeting is set for Oct. 29 at the Gallaudet University Kellogg Conference Hotel in Washington, D.C. Click here for details about the meeting and the Leadership Training Institute that takes place the day before our meeting. Please join us there!