Statewide protests against Medicare/Social Security cuts - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Statewide protests against Medicare/Social Security cuts


MADISON (WKOW) -- One of Wisconsin's largest unions is pleading with the state's congressional delegation to avoid cuts to entitlements.

Wisconsin AFL-CIO is urging Wisconsin's congressional members not to make any cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid as part of any fiscal cliff deal.

They arranged a rally at the Madison office of Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Madison) and at seven other congressional offices around the state Monday.

One or more changes to those programs could be on the table in order to keep the federal government from going over the fiscal cliff at the end of the month.

If that happens, every American will see an average increase in their income taxes of more than $2,000.

Some Washington insiders indicate that President Barack Obama may specifically be willing to raise the eligibility age for Medicare recipients from 65 to 67, in order to get House Republicans to agree to a tax increase on the wealthiest two percent of Americans.

The move could save over $100 billion over the next decade, but advocates for seniors say the cost to the elderly would be too high.

"There's some belief that Medicare is a free program, you know they use the term entitlement.  Its an earned benefit, people have paid taxes into Medicare over their working lives.  So when you ask people to delay their entry into Medicare, that's just more money that's gonna have to come out of their pockets to cover their own health care costs, for a longer period of time," said Sam Wilson, Director of AARP Wisconsin.

There is also concern from senior groups that such a change would raise Medicare rates for those still in the program, because 65 and 66 year-olds are generally the healthiest members and thus less expensive to insure than older people.

Some who are against raising the eligibility age favor cutting Medicare reimbursement rates to hospitals and doctors.

But many doctors say those rates have already been cut so far, they have stopped taking new Medicare patients.

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