Saturday, September 5, 2009

There are a lot of seniors out there who support health care reform!

The Raging Grannies call for a health care plan for the nation that would expand Medicare to all.

I’ve been reading about all these seniors opposed to heath care reform but it sure doesn't comport with my experience. All the seniors I know are supporters of universal health care with a robust public option. Many would rather have single payer, but see that as a battle for another day. They are disgusted with the Republicans’ cynical ploys and scare tactics aimed at seniors.

The seniors I know are concerned about our children’s and grand-children’s access to health care, not just our own. Most of us are far more worried about a painful prolongation of our lives, about becoming a burden to our families than we are about someone pulling the plug.

At a local town hall meeting and at arecent Health Care for All demonstration I attended, seniors were well represented among the supporters of reform. I live in Philadephia, one of the bluest patches of what is now considered the reliably blue state of Pennsylvania. My Mt. Airy neighborhood is deepest indigo blue, and granted this kind of skews my perspective.

So I acknowledge the Philly bias, but still question whether the majority of my age cohort is really as selfish as the press would have us believe. In all these accounts of frightened seniors, there is a theme which tends to recur. There are seniors standing up to the Republican disinformation machine. From a recent NPR report:

At high noon on one of the hottest days of the summer, a small group of senior citizens sweated it out in front of state GOP headquarters in Raleigh, N.C., asking the Republican Party to stop using what they called "scare tactics" to turn senior citizens against overhauling the health care system. It could be the start of a silver backlash against what some say is a misinformation campaign about health care reform.

My hope lies with one of the seniors quoted in report:

Senior citizen Betty Zimmerman says she's trying to fight back. She spends a lot of time talking — to friends, neighbors, anyone who'll listen to her — about what is and is not in the health care proposals.
"You know the word goes from one to another," she says. "As senior citizens, those of us that are active just need to tell the people what's going on."

Read the full NPR report

This may very well be happening. Embedded in the reports of anxious seniors, I’ve been finding exchanges like the following:

Those Medicare cuts bothered some seniors at the Greenspring Retirement Community, where Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly recently held his town hall meeting.
"They're going to take it away from Medicare," Florence Arden, 86, said after the lively but civil meeting.
She said Medicare is at risk because officials want to "cut down on all the programs ... and spread it around."
"No, it isn't,"disagreed her friend and ballroom dancing companion Yvonne Fisher, 85.
"Yes, it is," Arden said.
"I think a lot of lousy myths are going around," Fisher said.

Read the full account

Thanks, Yvonne Fisher and Betty Zimmerman, for the work you’re doing. We seniors who support universal health care need to make our voices heard.

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