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Congressman Ryan: Stop Playing Politics With Our Healthcare System

Medicare recipients are not “takers” – they’re real people with families As a nurse, I know the people who receive Medicare services. They aren’t just dollar signs in a budget item to me–they have faces and families. The patients on my halls are retired career service men and women, coal miners, railroader workers, librarians–people who worked hard all their lives and sacrificed so that we could have better lives. They are certainly not “takers” and I can’t imagine leaving them without vital services.

My grandma worked hard all of her life cleaning in the hospital and worked into her late sixties. She didn’t go on big vacations or buy a big home and she paid into Medicare. She is 92 years old now, and needs the care Medicare delivers. I think about last year when she fell at home. She was in hospital for a brief time and needed to regain her strength before she went back home. She was able to go for a brief stay at a nursing facility and then go back home and receive at home assistance through Medicaid and Medicare. It was really important for her to be able to live independently, and I really understand that.

To her that is quality of life. I don’t know what my family would have done without those services. Even though I am a nurse, I could not provide that quality of care and still manage my job and my other family responsibilities. This is my grandmother and my story, but she is like your grandmother or a lot of the elderly patients we see in the hospital.

Ryan’s big cuts impact real people’s lives I see patients and their families dealing with geriatric care who have to make some really difficult decisions. It is emotionally wrenching and the last thing you want to add during that time is more financial pressure. Medicaid and Medicare really matter.

I also work with transplant patients who, after surgery, are on medication for life. Those medications are just like breath and food for my patients. If there are gaps in their insurance, Medicaid and Medicare step in. The cost of transplant and care would be more than most patients could handle. We cannot have patients rationing or not taking medication as prescribed. It would lead to organ rejection and death.

Congressman Ryan and those who hold these extreme views in Washington, DC need to understand how these dollar signs and big cuts translate to real people’s lives here in Pennsylvania and across the country. These extremists need to take a serious look at the people who will feel the impact of these decisions — the people they are taking healthcare away from and the people who take care of them, the jobs they are destroying and the families who will have to find a way to pick up the cost and burden of providing care.

I have a responsibility as a nurse to say that cuts in Medicare and Medicaid will hurt the people I take care of. It is not just morally right, but part of my responsibility as an advocate for my patients.

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