Wilson blasts GOP Medicare plan

There are about 116,000 Medicare recipients in Ohio’s 6th Congressional District, and each would be adversely affected by budget proposals passed by the U.S. House, according to Charles Wilson, former Democratic U.S. representative from Ohio.

Wilson, who is running again to capture a seat in the House, criticized his opponent in the Nov. 6 general election, incumbent Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, for supporting a budget proposed by presumed GOP vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. The budget contains cuts and changes to the Medicare system

“I can’t see any good in it,” Wilson said. “I’m surprised Mitt Romney chose him as his running mate. It is a good choice for us Democrats. We’re excited about getting to tell the story. There are just severe things that will happen in this district … This proposal is probably the most extreme I’ve seen.”

Wilson was joined by Phillip Rotondi, national policy advisor for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, for a town hall meeting Tuesday with seniors at the Country Club Retirement Center in Bellaire.

Rotondi explained why he was on the campaign trail with Wilson.

In looking at the records of both Wilson and Johnson “what we see is one candidate with a 100 percent voting record on issues that are most important to seniors, and another candidate – Congressman Johnson – who has voted for proposals in the Ryan budget to privatize Medicare, and also to repeal the current benefits Medicare recipients are receiving,” Rotondi said.

Current House members have voted to abolish annual wellness visits for Medicare recipients, as well as preventive services without co-pays and deductibles, he continued.

“And we think that is the wrong way to go,” Rotondi said. “What we think Congress should be working on is strengthening and improve traditional Medicare – the Medicare you already have. That’ s not only for you, but for your sons and daughters and grandchildren.”

Rotondi suggested Congress vote to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, just as the veterans administration does. This move would save the program $24 billion annually, he said.

Instead, current Republican proposals would increase the out-of-pocket costs for Medicare recipients by about $6,400 per year in the next 20 years, and by almost $12,000 by 2032, he added. Rotondi cited figures provided by the Democratic staff for the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

“Medicare largely benefits the middle class, and most middle class retirees have an annual income of $22,000,” Rotondi said. “They just can’t afford another $6,400 (annually) in medical costs.”