By Barbara J. Easterling
Mitt Romney recently turned 65. He celebrated his birthday by doing what he does nearly every day – by saying something that reminds us of just how out of touch he is.
On his 65th birthday Mitt Romney said no thanks to Medicare, choosing instead to keep his own private health insurance. Maybe if you were born into the Romney family, you would have that luxury. But for the rest of us, Medicare is the only affordable way to see a doctor or fill a prescription.
It makes you wonder if perhaps Romney lives in such an isolated world that he thinks no one needs Medicare. That could explain why he not only wants to repeal the health reform law’s new benefits for seniors, but would also switch much of Medicare to a privatized voucher program. Under the Romney plan, seniors would get a small voucher to purchase coverage in the expensive, unfair private insurance market. That’s not Medicare for seniors, that’s welfare for corporations.
When we talk with our neighbors and children and grandchildren, we must remind them that before Medicare and Social Security, people used to work until the day they died. Many seniors lived out their final years in bad health and terrible poverty. We have come a long way in this country, and we cannot let politicians like Mitt Romney take us back.
Social Security and Medicare are what give middle class workers hope and faith that someday, when their working days are over, they will be able to relax and enjoy a break after decades of hard work. This is a promise America must continue to keep.
Barbara J. Easterling is president of the Alliance for Retired Americans. She was previously the secretary-treasurer of the Communications Workers of America.