If they come after Social Security, Medicare, it will place seniors in poverty

Mark Statham
Tuesday, November 8, 2022

I am concerned about the high price of prescription medicines. I depend on prescriptions to manage health conditions such as chronic asthma, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. The price of many medicines in Medicare has increased faster than inflation in recent years, leaving seniors struggling to make ends meet.

I’m looking forward to the implementation of the new Inflation Reduction Act law that will require Medicare to negotiate for lower prices in the future. Drug companies have raised their prices faster than inflation for years. This puts medicine out of reach and leaves too many people with no choice but to skip doses, ration pills, or go into debt to afford their prescriptions. Unfortunately, I have found myself in all three situations in the past.

I’ve worked hard all my life as a pipe welder and, most recently, as a bus driver. Due to my health, I can no longer work, and my only source of income is Social Security Disability Insurance. My income is limited, but I am incredibly thankful I have Medicare and Social Security to help me get by. A 2020 study shows that without Social Security, the poverty rate for those 65 and older would be 37.8% compared to 9% when you include Social Security.

I’m very concerned about attacks on Medicare and Social Security. A new bill called the Protecting Drug Innovation Act was recently introduced. If passed, the bill would repeal the new measures that lower drug costs in Medicare before they are even implemented. I encourage Montanans to reach out to our congressional delegation and urge them to oppose the Protecting Drug Innovation Act.

I also encourage Montanans to keep an eye on Congress and ensure they don’t come after our Social Security Benefits. A proposal by Sen. Rick Scott, a Florida Republican, will allow Social Security and Medicare to “sunset” if Congress does not pass legislation to extend them every five years. Another proposal by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, proposes the programs be on the chopping block yearly.

The scary part of getting older is that we become increasingly vulnerable to health issues threatening our retirement security. We not only depend on Medicare and Social Security. We’ve earned those benefits.

( Mark Statham lives in Great Falls.)

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