Wednesday, September 13, 2006
IN MY OPINION (Column)
Medicare and Social Security: One for All, All for One
By TED RUHIG
I just received a reminding thank-you note, causing me to round up my thoughts. The reminder, from Kent State University, said, to quote: “I want to thank you for attending the recent orientation session concerning the inter-generational discussion groups that will be part of the Introduction to Gerontology course this fall.”
I think that my contribution to the discussion groups may well be to expose what is now happening to undercut the retirement prospects of coming retirees.
To us oldsters, what is occurring seems almost a replay of 1988-9 history. The present day Wall Street Journal readily made such a connection. It headlined and sub-headed its story: “Strong Medicine — Get Ready —Means Testing — and Higher Premiums are Coming to Medicare.”
And the story follows: “Later this year, older adults with higher incomes will get unwelcome news from Uncle Sam: They’ll have to pay a bigger share of their Medicare costs, starting in January ... about 1.5 million seniors will be required to pay higher premiums — Critics counter that Medicare was designed to be a social insurance program, not a welfare program.”
The AARP and other senior advocacy groups are strongly opposed, says the Journal, to what is slated to happen. It should be noted that this development is sneakily taking place after the November elections.
Many seniors who are aware of what is going to happen are fearful that if the republicans still control Congress and push forward with their agenda, they will indeed have turned Medicare into a welfare program.
Then the greater fear is that this example will preface a way for introducing means testing to Social Security itself. If this were to happen, in effect Social Security would be destroyed as we have known it.
In 1988, led by the Republicans, Congress passed and President Reagan signed the so-called Catastrophic Illness Medicare bill that supposedly provided coverage for seniors for high cost illnesses and prescription drugs.
To pay for this expanded coverage, the bill imposed higher premiums on those deemed wealthy by Social Security. In other words, a special tax on those judged to be wealthy seniors was imposed to fully pay for the needs of other seniors. This unfair splitting of the senior ranks produced an explosion of anger in almost all senior ranks.
Personally, I, too, was enraged. I helped lead a national campaign to have the law repealed. As the October 11, 1989 Senior Spectrum story acknowledged, “Say Ted Ruhig and Think Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act. For the past 15 months or so he has made the issue his cause. He is a founder and current president of the Fairness to Seniors Coalition, which is estimated to represent one out of every two seniors living in California.”
In the same October 11, 1989 Spectrum issue, a gladsome story reported on the repeal of the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act. Reported the Spectrum: “Catastrophic Act goes up in flames. Seniors prairie fire at grass roots drives Congress away from surtax.”
These 1988 lull away, sneaky chip away tactics on Medicare and which also threaten Social Security, are again before seniors. We need a new elderly Paul Revere to rouse the elderly that the Medicare, Social Security cutters are coming.
It is still unknown if the current post great-Depression political ranks of seniors are moving to ring the fire alarm bell and organize a repeal program to impose senior thinking on the otherwise do-nothing Congress.
The rule of one for all and all for one is the golden rule for senior protection. Splitting senior ranks, as the powers that be are attempting to do, could ultimately greatly weaken and significantly destroy seniors’ political influence.
2006, Capitol News Service
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company