Commentary: Talk to lawmakers about health programs

For 43 years, Senior Services of Snohomish County has delivered high-quality service with great personalized compassion to vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities. We do this day after day, year after year, with dedication. Through daily action we have been advocates for those we serve.

As the number of seniors grow significantly in our community now and in the years ahead, we feel it is important for Senior Services to be a catalyst for a collective advocate voice for the needs and for positive regard of our older citizens and people with disabilities. Now and going forward we will be more of a public voice in this advocacy and we will invite others who share these values to join us in our collective voice.

At this time with pending legislative changes that will impact seniors and people with disabilities, we invite you to share your perspectives with your public leaders to ensure that adequate funding stays in place for these vulnerable citizens through Medicare, Medicaid, and not to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a simultaneous replacement.

Bob Blancato, chairman of the American Society on Aging Board of Directors, has published the following talking points from the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, a coalition of 72 national nonprofit organizations, including Senior Services of Snohomish County. You can use these points when talking to your Ssenators and representatives about preserving these major programs.

No repeal of the ACA without simultaneous replacement.

If Congress votes to repeal the ACA, a replacement package that provides equivalent or improved access to affordable, quality health coverage must be included in the same legislation.

No cuts to and restructuring (block granting) of Medicaid.

Older people and people with disabilities account for two-thirds of Medicaid spending. The program is the primary source of funding for long-term care services and supports. Program cuts, along with block grant or per capita cap proposals would hurt people who have no alternative means of paying for essential services.

Preserve Medicare for current and future older people and people with disabilities.

Medicare is a huge success story, with strong support from all Americans. Please oppose Premium support or any proposal to shift more costs onto vulnerable beneficiaries or make health care far less affordable and accessible for older people and people with disabitlies.

We are facing potentially significant changes to programs and services that serve millions of Americans.

Please contact your senator or representative today with your concerns. Here is how to get in touch with them: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

Steve McGraw is CEO of Senior Services of Snohomish County.

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