Medicare dominates Duffy’s town hall chatAt a Superior town hall meeting, the freshman congressman insists Medicare must be fixed. "This is not a Republican issue," he said.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Health care and proposed changes to Medicare drew keen interest from community members — and protesters — during Rep. Sean Duffy’s visit Monday to the Superior-Douglas County Senior Center.
“We’re here to save Medicare,” said Gilbert Davidson of Superior as he held up a sign along Tower Avenue before the meeting. “They’re robbing it, taking it away from us.”
Duffy, a freshman Republican from Ashland representing Wisconsin’s 7th District, said there is a consensus among legislators that something has to be done to fix the ailing program.
“This is not a Republican issue,” he told the crowd.
Last year the program ran a deficit for the first time, Duffy said, and current estimates indicate Medicare could be broke in 10 to 12 years.
“President Obama agrees the system needs to be fixed; Bill Clinton agrees the system needs to be fixed,” the congressman said. But they differ with GOP leaders on how to do it.
The president’s proposal would reduce Medicare reimbursement to providers, Duffy said. The plan of Republican Sen. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin would provide premium subsidies for seniors to pay for private insurance. It would not apply to anyone now 55 or older.
“Medicare has been created because insurance companies didn’t want old, sick people,” said Philip Anderson, a Douglas County resident. He feared seniors would be unable to find coverage, even with the subsidies.
Jenice Meyer, a lifelong Superior resident, worried about how the change could affect her own mother, who is 54. Under the Republican plan, she said, seniors would receive about $9,750 a year in vouchers for insurance that would cost roughly $30,000. The high cost may push some seniors back into the workplace, or cause them to utilize other government programs like food stamps.
But if nothing is done to fix Medicare, it won’t be there for any of us, said Dan Conrad, who lives in Douglas County.
“It’s a solution to the problem as compared with doing nothing,” he said, adding that the Ryan plan hinges on driving up competition and offers more of a subsidy for those who earned less over their career.
“As opposed to Obamacare — it’s way better,” Conrad said.