HIGHLAND PARK – Over 100 seniors and health care advocates packed the Highland Park Senior Center for a rally in support of Medicare and against Republican efforts to privatize it on Wednesday. Speakers included Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Adam Sherman from New Jersey Citizen Action, and Irene Dworeck, a Highland Park senior who depends on Medicare.
At the Senior Center, participants rallied against Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan that ends Medicare as we know it, and called on Congress to pass a budget that puts working families and seniors – many of whom are still struggling in the Great Recession – first. Also participants called on Representatives of both parties to uphold the promise made to a generation and to protect Medicare that gives seniors peace of mind in retirement.
“I recognize that I am just one senior but I ask Congress to think about the millions of others like me that are now asked to shoulder this burden,” said Dworeck. “Can Republicans really look us all in the face and say this is the most responsible proposal for America?”
The Paul Ryan budget gives big corporations and the wealthiest Americans a huge tax cut while seniors, people with disabilities and the middle class are forced to sacrifice, critics charge.
“Forget the politics, forget the games, there are lives at stake here. Rep. Ryan’s proposed plan would decimate Medicaid, slashing benefits for seniors and people with disabilities and putting a heavier economic burden on states,” said Sherman, central Jersey organizer for New Jersey Citizen Action “Congressional Republicans can spin the cuts however they want, but we know what’s really at stake. The Ryan plan places the burden solely on the backs of the middle class and seniors, while not asking for any sacrifice from millionaires, or those whose fiscal irresponsibility got us here in the first place.”
“Senate Democrats defeated a dangerous budget proposal in Washington last week that would have ended Medicare are we know it,” Lautenberg said. “Despite our victory, Republicans in Washington are not giving up on their mission to destroy Medicare.”
At the rally, New Jersey Citizen Action called on NJ Governor Chris Christie to stop cuts to New Jersey’s FamilyCare program. “In New Jersey, we are also facing short-sighted and unfair cuts to our Medicaid and NJ FamilyCare programs proposed by Governor Christie,” Sherman said. “The cuts are bad policy. It hurts our economy and it hurts our most vulnerable families at a time when they can least afford it.”
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