Butterfield schedules local visits

Published 8:37 am Monday, June 6, 2011

Congressman G. K. Butterfield of North Carolina’s First District will make several stops in the Roanoke-Chowan area on Wednesday (June 8).

His travel itinerary for that day includes a 10 a.m. stop at the J.W. Faison Senior Center, 110 Ridgecrest Lane, in Jackson. There, the Congressman has scheduled one hour to meet with local senior citizens to discuss the proposed changes to Medicare and Medicaid.

“There are some very serious and troubling changes being proposed for Medicare and Medicaid,” Butterfield said in a press release sent late last week. “I believe Medicare and Medicaid are working for seniors, and I want to hear their thoughts and concerns.”

On April 15, Butterfield said the Republican controlled House passed their budget, by a vote of 235 to 193, which seeks to radically change Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare would be replaced with a voucher system, which would dramatically increase seniors’ costs and reducing benefits, especially for people currently under age 55.

Under the plan, Medicaid would be cut and transformed into a block grant program. Currently, the elderly and disabled make up about 25 percent of Medicaid beneficiaries.

Butterfield explained that the plan would end guaranteed coverage and put many Medicare decision in the hands of private insurance companies.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office states that, under the GOP plan, seniors “would bear a much larger share of their health care costs than they would under the traditional program.”

“Under the new system seniors’ health costs would be higher is that private insurance plans covering the standardized benefit would be more expensive than traditional Medicare – because of such items as higher administrative costs, marketing costs, CEO pay and profits,” Butterfield said.

Another reason seniors’ health costs would be higher, Butterfield said, is that the voucher would grow more slowly than health care costs, leaving more for seniors to pay.

Butterfield said the plan also gives enormous flexibility to the private insurance companies – meaning the GOP plan no longer guarantees seniors the same level of benefits and choice of doctor that they have today under Medicare.

He said the plan also raises prescription drug costs for millions of seniors – getting rid of health reform’s provisions providing a 50 percent discount for brand-name drugs for seniors in the ‘donut hole’ coverage gap and completely closing the ‘donut hole’ by 2020. And, raises costs for seniors by getting rid of the new free preventive care benefit under Medicare, which went into effect on January 1st.

Also Wednesday, Congressman will meet at 1 p.m. with Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center (RCCHC) officials in Ahoskie and later tour that organization’s new health care facility in Colerain (scheduled for 2 p.m.).

RCCHC officials will present Butterfield with an award and talk about construction of the new, $6.2 million Ahoskie Building Complex.

Butterfield will also tour the new Colerain Primary Care facility with RCCHC staff. The Colerain facility was funded through grants from The Golden Leaf Foundation and the American Recovery and Investment Act. The site serves as the shared home of Colerain Primary Care and the Town of Colerain’s Counsel on Aging Nutrition Center.