Supporters of Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act are speaking out to try to save the healthcare programs from a united Republican front in Congress and the new Trump administration; Tuesday morning about a dozen people took their message to the Tampa office of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio. Tampa resident Delores Grayson is a volunteer with the group Organize Now. She has a preexisting heart condition and has had open-heart surgery. Grayson is 70 years old and retired after working and paying in to Medicare and Social Security for 39 years and is concerned that she won’t be able to afford premiums if proposals to privatize Medicare and change it to a voucher system for private insurance pass in Washington, D.C.
“We were out there at Marco Rubio’s office–in front of his office–letting people know how much Medicare and Medicaid, our healthcare means to us and how we feel if it’s taken away from us – let the public know.
“We went into his office and we spoke with his secretary to let her know our personal story; let her know ‘Hey, it’s very important that we keep our Medicare.’ Because, like for me, for instance, for my heart surgery, it doesn’t stop there with the surgery. I continue to take medication for the rest of my life that costs money and by me being on a fixed income, I wouldn’t be able to afford that medication if they take that healthcare away from me, if I pay their Social Security premium for Medicare.”
And so describe what your bills might be like if those advantages are changed.
“Well, if they change or take it away, well then I’ll have to pay for my own office visits, which some of the insurance pays for; my medication now: I got medication that costs $300, $400, $500. I can’t afford that when I’m on a fixed income.
“My primary care office visits and heart specialists: it costs to go see these doctors and I only have a $35 co-pay and I can afford it. But, if they take the healthcare away, I can’t afford $150 every time I agree to go to these visits. Every 3-months I have to follow-up because I have the coronary artery disease and it has to be monitored with the medication that I’m taking.”
Can you tell me how many other people joined you in your demonstration today?
“There’s about 12-13 of us.”
There’s talk of changing Medicare from how it is now, to actually giving people a credit so they can buy private insurance. How would that affect you?
“Well, that depends on what type of private insurance you need. Right now I pay Medicare $110 a month, to be sure I can go to these different doctors. But, if it continues being high, where I can’t afford, I wouldn’t be able to do it. Because I’m on a fixed income. I only receive Social Security now. I’m not like working. I’m retired. But, I worked for 39 years paying into the different Medicare and Medicaid for people to have this type of service, when they need it.
“As you know, private insurance costs money – quite a bit.”
Do you think it would cost you more than $110 a month, then?
“Yes. Well, yes, of course it will. Based on my age and my condition, yes.”
Rubio’s office did not respond to WMNF’s phone or email requests for a recorded interview, but sent us this statement by email after the story aired:
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (FL)