Medicare Savings Program cuts are harming low-income seniors

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I am writing to express my concerns over the funding of the Medicare Savings Program here in the state of Connecticut.

I am a social worker. I work with low-income seniors all across the state of Connecticut and this issue is extremely important to my clients. I am writing to inform you of what the cuts to the Medicare Savings Plan will do to many low- income seniors across the state.

The proposed cuts to the program have effectively cut the benefit eligibility in half. This is a drastic cut that no one was prepared for. The effect that this will have on low-income seniors is disproportionate to the cuts and tax increases made on other segments of the population.

Low-income seniors are living on a fixed income. They cannot cut corners as, in most cases; they have already cut as many corners with their budget as they can. When told about these possible cuts the reactions of senior citizens were absolutely heartbreaking. I heard many seniors discuss how they would not be able to afford medication or doctor’s visits. Some suggested that they will have to either move out of state or move in with their family to afford to live day to day. They felt betrayed by the legislature and the governor’s office.

Budgets are a compromise, I understand that. The issue I have is that the changes made to this program have forced low-income seniors to make their own compromises and decisions. The changes will force them to, in some cases, choose between health coverage and paying their rent. The changes will force them to either pay for prescriptions or afford food. The decision made to cut this program down to the lowest legal level wasn’t so much as a compromise. It wasn’t a simple reduction. It wasn’t a half-measure. It was a cut that went as deep as you could go. There was no compromise in this cut.

I understand that other states have already cut this benefit to the level that our budget just reduced it to. Aren’t we better than that though? The states that cut this program before us shouldn’t be the leaders, they shouldn’t be the trailblazers. They should be ashamed. This is a step in the wrong direction. The depth of this cut takes away a benefit so many low income seniors relied upon. Let Connecticut be the trailblazers by restoring this benefit. Let’s take the lead. Let’s do the right thing.

There is real fear in the seniors I speak with about this cut. They are worried, they are scared, and many don’t know where to turn. This budget and this cut have effectively frightened low-income seniors across the state. Isn’t that a terrible thing? Isn’t that something that needs to be rectified?

We can do better and we should.

Charles Barrett lives in Newington.


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