Information & Referral
By Alan M. Schlein
All eyes on Capitol Hill are focused on the fight over the “repeal and replacement” of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, by the new Republican-controlled Congress and the Trump administration. But don’t get confused. That’s only the warmup card. The championship round could be the battles over the future of Medicare and Medicaid.
While Donald J. Trump and his administration settle in to their new jobs, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and new Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, are pushing to change the future of Medicare and Medicaid. This, despite Trump having signaled his opposition to sweeping Medicare changes during the campaign. Ryan has proposed replacing Medicare’s open-ended entitlement with the option of “premium support” — a fixed contribution for each beneficiary to purchase private insurance.
While the battle to repeal and replace the ACA directly affects more than 20 million beneficiaries, there are 53.8 million seniors on Medicare and nearly 70 million people, including the frail elderly, disabled seniors and millions of children and working families on Medicaid.
Drastic changes to Medicare and Medicaid could come separately or as part of an effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. That’s also still to be decided. Where Trump stands on Ryan’s push to turn Medicare into a voucher program and turn Medicaid control back to the states is also very much in question.
During the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly vowed to “save” Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security “without cuts” while getting rid of any fraud, waste and abuse. Trump also promised not to touch Social Security. “Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security,” Trump said in 2015.” They want to do it on Medicare. They want to do it on Medicaid. And we can’t do that. And it’s not fair to the people who’ve been paying in for years.”
By Elaine Marze
When I was young and heard “older” people say they were not going to snow ski or rollerskate because they might break a leg I swore I would never be one of “them.” I hear readers laughing at my arrogance and empathizing because they once said the same thing.
When our group gathered before a ski instructor for beginner ski lessons in Red River, New Mexico, I was already tired from the struggle to get ski clothes on over the thermal underwear I’d been advised to wear. A tall friend loaned me hers, and the crotch hung somewhere north of my knees so when I walked there was a big wad causing me to waddle like a penguin. I finally got stuffed into coated ski pants that made a swishing sound with every step, like in the olden days when I wore a girdle that made “swish-swish” sounds as my thighs rubbed together. Between the big wad and trying to mute the “swish-swish” I was walking like I had a saddle between my legs. Trudging up stairs and across an acre of thick snow in heavy boots – my energy and enthusiasm had diminished significantly.
Trying to get the skis attached to my boots while my non-athletic body squatted in what felt like a big padded diaper was frustrating. Layers of long johns topped by stiff, waterproof ski pants were restricting my blood circulation. I’d worked up a sweat clomping up the stairs, but I wasn’t about to go change and have to once again struggle with all the equipment.