Washington, DC–The National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), the premier national organization working to improve the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers, today submitted a joint letter to Members of Congress along with fellow members of the Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) expressing the group’s strong opposition to the FY2012 Budget Resolution approved by the House Budget Committee. The DEC is a group of seven organizations working to improve the lives of racially and ethnically diverse older adults and LGBT seniors by promoting economic security, health equity, and the elimination of health disparities.
Among the points DEC highlighted that would adversely impact diverse elders are the privatization of Medicare, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and shifting the cost of Medicaid to the states. Following, the text of letter:
April 14, 2011
United States House of Representatives United States Senate
Dear Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Reid, and the Honorable Members of Congress:
The Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) strongly opposes the Budget Resolution approved by the House Budget Committee for fiscal year 2012. The DEC, a group of seven organizations, works to improve the lives of racially and ethnically diverse older adults and LGBT older adults. Broadly speaking, we work to promote economic security during retirement as well as for health equity and the elimination of health disparities among racially, ethnically diverse, and LGBT communities. Although our work primarily targets select groups, the issues our constituencies face are not limited to their communities; health and economic security in old age are challenges everyone faces. Unfortunately, the FY 2012 budget resolution intensifies, rather than eases, the burdens of aging.
The FY 2012 budget resolution increases the cost of health care for which millions of older adults already struggle to pay:
• The FY 2012 budget resolution privatizes Medicare. Starting in 2022, seniors will have to purchase health insurance on the open market, with the reformed Medicare providing only a voucher to cover some of the cost of the private insurance premium.
• Under the current Medicare system, in the year 2030, a 65 year old would have to pay 25% of his or her health care costs. This amount, already a substantial expense for many seniors, would increase to 68% of health care costs under the FY 2012 budget resolution. Additionally, the Congressional Budget Office projects that health care costs will increase faster than the value of Medicare vouchers.
• Social, economic, and health inequalities present throughout life tend to increase with age, as the effects of lower levels of education, poor employment prospects, and poor health accumulate over the course of life. For this reason the FY 2012 budget resolution is particularly harmful to the communities DEC represents.
• The FY 2012 budget resolution would repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Repeal of the ACA would have an incalculably negative impact on the health of the nation, particularly racially, ethnically diverse and LGBT communities. The ACA offers a variety of programs to reduce health inequities, so repealing it through adoption of the FY 2012 budget resolution would further harm groups that already disproportionately suffer from certain illnesses.
• The FY 2012 budget resolution changes Medicaid to a block grant program and shifts costs to states. This will force states to find new ways of funding their Medicaid program, such as lowering Medicaid payments to health care providers, which in turn would make doctors less willing to treat Medicaid-receiving patients.
Representative Ted Deutch of Florida described the FY 2012 budget resolution as a “path to the poorhouse.” As the facts above illustrate, this is an apt description. Though the budget proposal may cut federal spending, it does so at the expense of those least able to afford such cuts. The FY 2012 Budget Resolution not only alters Medicare and Medicaid to offer less health care, it also makes that care more expensive. Please consider these facts and the real life impact they have for your constituents. Thank you.
National Caucus and Center on Black Aged, Inc. (NCBA) National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Elders (SAGE) Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)