Larsen questions health proposals in S-W visit

May 21, 2011

Skagit Valley Herald

By Lynsi Burton

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SEDRO-WOOLLEY — U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen spoke to a crowd of seniors at Country Meadow Village in Sedro-Woolley Friday to criticize congressional Republicans’ efforts to reform Medicare and Medicaid.

The Everett Democrat spoke to about three dozen people in a discussion that centered around health care policies, which has become a focus of highly partisan debate as Congress deals with the budget deficit.

Larsen attacked the budget proposal passed by the Republican-ruled U.S. House of Representatives, which proposes a voucher system for Medicare and a block grant approach to Medicaid. The budget, advocated by Rep. Paul Ryan, RWisconsin, passed April 15 on a 235-193 vote without any Democrats in favor and four Republicans against it. The timing of the Senate’s vote on the budget has yet to be determined.

“I don’t believe we ought to be balancing the budget on the backs of seniors,” Larsen said of the budget, adding that it would compromise medical expense coverage for seniors and increase their health care costs. “It would take Medicare and end Medicare as we know it today.”

In a column that appeared in newspapers Wednesday, Ryan said the safety net for low-income individuals will remain intact, despite what Democrats claim.

“Hysterical predictions about what would happen to low-income Americans under our budget are not just wildly unrealistic, they are dangerously deluded about the urgent need to avert a crisis that would have devastating effects on the poor,” he says in the column.

The Republicans’ plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program and Medicaid into a capped grant program would just shift costs from the federal government onto states and individuals, Larsen said.

“I’m not on that bandwagon,” he said.

Rosaria Linn, who lives at Country Meadow Village, said living and health care expenses are rising all the time for her and it’s difficult to keep up.

“Everybody's struggling,” she said, adding that she faces growing medical expenses. “It takes a lot of your money.”

Marsha Roney, a Mount Vernon resident to attended the talk, said she doesn’t trust the Republican proposal. Medicare has prevented she and her husband from facing astronomical medical costs amid cancer treatment and surgeries, she said.

“Medicare has been a tremendous thing for us,” Roney said.
Linn, however, was skeptical of the whole debate.

“Seems like the way they talk is always the same,” she said. “The government better wake up and take care of the people who have paid them all these years.”