Texas ARA Celebrates 47th Birthday of Medicare, Calls for Many More
Emmett Sheppard, Texas ARA Regional Director
Union Retirees Celebrate 47th Birthday of Medicare
Medicare’s 47th anniversary must not be the beginning of the end for programs that bring health care to millions of Americans, the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans declared.
In events in Austin, Houston and Fort Worth, the ARA joined union retirees around the nation in celebrating government participation in bringing health care to nearly 50 million Americans who might not otherwise be able to afford it.
“Today we celebrate the 47th anniversary of Medicare, but we shouldn’t take anything for granted,” state Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, told a gathering at Texas AFL-CIO headquarters. “Our work is not done.”
Emmett Sheppard, Regional Director of the Texas ARA, presided over the coffee-and-cake meeting, whose national theme is “Let’s Not Be the Last Generation to Retire.”
Tony Padilla, Secretary of Texas ARA, said Medicare is “a success story. We’re going to keep working on keeping that.”
Stephanie Hamm, Volunteer Regional Coordinator with MoveOn.org, said the Affordable Care Act, with its strengths and flaws, has set the stage for expansion of the Medicare concept in the future into a “single-payer” program covering everyone.
“Happy birthday, Medicare,” Hamm said. “Let’s have much more of you, bigger and better. And I know all of you agree Medicare should never be a for-profit proposition.”
Naishtat said during his keynote remarks that Republican privatization proposals for Medicare would not lower the federal deficit significantly, but would drive Medicare recipients out of the system and end the program as we know it.
Medicaid, the report states, provided another $23.7 billion in benefits to Texans in 2009, insuring 4.48 million Texans, including 463,643 seniors. That’s one out of six residents, all of whom qualify by virtue of living in poverty or near-poverty.
Gov. Rick Perry announced recently that he would oppose any federal expansion of Medicaid in Texas, even though the federal government is set to pay for 100 percent of that expansion in its first years, followed by 90 percent afterward. If Perry’s plan holds, Texas would pass up tens of billions of dollars and clear the way for further federal entry into the Texas health care system under the Affordable Care Act.
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