RALLY FOR A MEDICARE PLAN THAT WORKS

03/04/04

When President Bush signed a bill in December that changed the Medicare system that provides healthcare to Americans over 60, he claimed that the goal was to provide cost efficient care, and would end up saving seniors money. Many people disagreed with him then, and when it was announced in early February that the plan would cost 134 million dollars more than Bush had announced. Today, in three Florida cities, citizens gathered to try and educate the public about the misleading information spread by the Bush Administration, and the need for a better plan for providing healthcare for seniors, and all Americans. WMNFs Andrew Stelzer was at a rally in downtown Tampa, and has this report.

ACT “the administration is spending 12 million dollars……the HMO’s have started seeing the benefits already… Adam Rubin is with moveon.org, an internet based organizing group who helped put together a rally in Gaslight Square Park. ACT “I see the ads and I say Don’t BE FOOLED…look at the ads, see the people on the stage and the money they represent.�

About 40 people gathered this morning to speak out about the new changes to Medicare, and call on Congress to deal with the healthcare crisis Americans are facing. They are upset about many aspects of the changes to the Medicare plan, especially in relation to prescription drugs. The new Medicare law bill prohibits the federal Government from negotiating the lowest price for prescription drugs, and keeps it illegal for people to go to Canada to buy cheaper prescription drugs; Many Americans are ignoring the law and taking bus trips to Canada, to buy medications which they need, but cant afford. Joe Boren is a Vietnam veteran. ACT “ I'm retired military, I get my meds for free…..Its gonna be c choice between eating dog food or no food, this is murder.�

When Congress passed the new Medicare bill, over 40 thousand senior citizens burned their AARP card, disappointed that they had failed the people which they are supposed to serve and represent. The growing alternative to AARP is the Alliance for retired Americans which has 130 members in Florida Tony Kiewak is from Alliance for Retired Americans Kiewak said that only Bob Graham, and Bill nelson were the only Congress people from Florida who got good grades ACT “Congress has failed the senior citizens of this state…if these people in the senate were to have to settle for the Medicare that we do you can bet they would do something�

Randy Pines, of teamsters local 79 said his union, along with the AFL-CIO is in opposition to the new Medicaid law. ACT “Some people say…..we like to call it the HMO drug company relief act…we are not a cash crop.�

Paula Zitselburg came to the rally with her mother, Miriam Mullins. ACT “..I joined Moveon.org a year ago…I brought my mother she is disabled…. I’m really concerned about Medicare, I just had surgery, what are people my age going to do?…I’ve been a republican for a long time, but I’m concerned now…�

Sheri Crater says that the number of people who are without healthcare in the area is rising everyday, and unless the federal government does something about is, the country is headed for crisis. ACT “I work for a non-profit agency in North Pinellas county…I talk to people every day who are struggling. Middle class now, its not just the poor….they aren’t getting the help they need due to Medicaid…the majority of people I talk to aren’t incredibly poor…�

Moveon.org has over 60,000 members in Florida, and over 4 million across the country. The goal of the organization is to step in when politicians are not listening to the American people on an issue, and give the people a way to organize themselves. For Pat Yanoolis, who joined moveon last year, the issue of healthcare has personal importance. ACT “many of you are reliant on a to stay alive, I’m one of them, I have not thyroid gland, I am not on Medicare or Medicaid, I am on credit cards.�

Moveon.org will be holding events throughout Florida at local senior centers, to ask seniors what they need, and provide them with information about changes to the Medicare plan. For more information, go to www.takebackmedicare.org

For WMNF news, I’m Andrew Stelzer

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