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Letter to the Editor: Protect Medicaid

Nahant resident Jim Walsh reflects on his family history in his support for Medicaid.

From Jim Walsh of Nahant

My mother and father lead a proud, working class life.  Dad worked hard and long in a factory job that paid a living wage.  Mom worked from her teenage years until, when she and Dad were in their Forties, through the assistance of Catholic Family Charities, I was adopted into their lives, followed soon by a sister.  We never had a new car and rummage sales were part of our lives, but through careful saving and the mortgage interest deduction, my parents bought a family home, my sister and I attended public schools and, after a year in a factory and construction work, I was able to go to Southern Connecticut State.  Without the ability to live at home and pay only a very modest tuition, I would never have had a shot at an education.  No sports or academic scholarships for me!

It is fashionable among the Republican candidates and SuperPACs  to attack entitlements, taking particular glee in trashing Medicaid.  They are more careful about attacking Medicare because all Americans are eligible for that program.  But Medicaid!  Isn’t that for poor people and people of color?  If Scott Brown can rail against poor people voting, Richard Tisei should be able to attack the excesses of Medicaid without worrying about too much of a backlash from stalwart Republicans and, unthinking Independents.

I think Richard Tisei and Scott Brown have miscalculated. I don’t think they’ve really thought through what would happen when people looked carefully at what the Republicans are proposing.  They’ve even dropped the fig leaf of compassionate conservatism.

While we know that Mr. Romney has been all over the map in terms of principles, he chose a soul brother Vice Presidential candidate who has really spilled the beans.  Mr. Ryan and his colleagues (Richard Tisei has taken their money and wants to be one of them) have held even poor John Boehner hostage.  The President and the Speaker were close to a deal that would have balanced reductions in spending and increases in revenues but the Republicans refused to consider raising taxes on the even wealthiest Americans and it was their way or the highway.  Gut Medicare and Medicaid or no deal!  I’m no fan of Speaker Boehner but even I felt sorry for him.  No wonder he’s always on the edge of tears.

Where does all that Medicaid money go?  According to the Congressional Budget Office, 64 per cent of it goes to nursing home care for the elderly and disabled.  Mom and Dad.  Whether they’re White, Black, Latino or Asian.

In my family history, without the union movement Dad would not have been paid a living wage.  Without the home mortgage deduction, my parents would not have owned their own home.  Without Medicare they would not have had the healthcare they required until my father’s death at almost 80.  But most importantly, because my mother lived to be 93, sold her house, went through her savings and had to live her last five years in a nursing home, without Medicaid in her final years, she might have been faced with a situation out of a Dickens novel. 

When I was a little boy, on some Sunday afternoons, my father would take me and drive to the Convent to pick up some of the Sisters for a pleasant ride along the shore or into the country.  In the Fifties, nuns didn’t get out as much as they do now.  Until he could not walk because of arthritis, Dad passed the basket at 8 o’clock Mass at St. Lawrence parish.  Toward the end of his life Dad walked with the assistance of two canes.  Yet I can tell you this.  He was a gentle man, but if he were able to, he would take those canes to Paul Ryan and Richard Tisei for wanting to gut the Medicaid program that cared for his wife, my mother, in her final years. 

pamela boucher August 16, 2012 at 05:08 PM
send this letter to the whitehouse immediately and have congress read it also.
curious1 August 16, 2012 at 05:24 PM
As much as I know (I work at medical field) Medicaid has very strict guidelines regarding financial situation of applicants. I know a lot of elderly people who were unable to get Medicaid just because they have more money at they account than it’s allowed by Medicaid. So, my question is: how come did your mother get Medicaid if she sold her house?
Mark Chulsky August 17, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Don't worry, Jim, nobody will touch Medicaid, so far every president expanded it, including Reagan and both Bushes. Unfortunately, nobody is going to fight the rampant fraud in the program either, even if they pay the lip service. Best wishes, and hope you never need Medicaid.
James H. Walsh August 17, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Curious1...I sold Mom's house when she was about 85. She lived independently for a year or so then moving to a level4 nursing facility, all paid for with the proceeds of the sale. At a certain point the money ran out and we the turned to Medicaid. We were required to document how we used her money for her expenses. Perhaps I should have made that clearer. Jim Walsh
James H. Walsh August 18, 2012 at 06:18 PM
It's not that I want no one to "touch" Medicaid. It is that Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, and Richard Tisei do not share the same values as those that created it and would not mind undermining it by shifting it in a Dickensian direction. When Scrooge is asked to contribute to those less fortunate, he asks, are there no prisons, workhouses for those that cannot take care of themselves? They are to healthcare what Sheriff Arpaio is to law enforcement. Obamacare makes a start at combining needed reforms in both the healthcare system and financial reform of it. A cleaver is rarely the best tool to be used in medical contexts.
James H. Walsh August 18, 2012 at 06:24 PM
I hope your very legitimate question is answered below. We are fated to live in an era of lengthening life spans. How will we take this into account in the health insurance system? Those that profit from the present system have trouble imagining another, one that would provide sustainable care for our longer lifespans.

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