Growing up in North Carolina, I learned very early in life the power of honor and of keeping a promise. In my work in Congress, I’ve remained committed to following the very example my parents, coaches and teachers instilled in me — that you always do as you say and you keep your word. Unfortunately and all too often, for many of my colleagues in Congress, these same promises don’t always amount to performance.
This week marked the 47th anniversary of the creation of Medicare, a promise made to our senior citizens that I firmly believe we must keep. We agreed to help take care of those who have worked to make our country what it is today. We did this because we are a nation founded on the faith and values that our parents and grandparents passed down to us — values we still hold onto today. We can’t allow our government to make a decades-long commitment, and then break it when times get tough, or when political winds shift. It will not help our economy to have our seniors going without.
As we all know, Washington must work to rein in out of control spending and help get our growing debt crisis under control. In doing so, we must use precision to address the obviously costly and wasteful instances that put a financial drain on our system. Sadly, many in Washington would rather embrace an “axe” approach, chopping at the very core of programs designed to help those who need the most — Medicare and Social Security. The solvency and preservation of these programs is one of the most important issues facing us today. As we work to preserve and protect Medicare, we must do so wisely and never forget the very core of this promise. Here in North Carolina, I’ve heard from many folks who agree that proposals to drastically alter current Medicare plans, or end the program as we know it, are not only dangerous and wrong, but directly threaten the livelihood and well-being of so many seniors in our area.
Home and Hospice Care
The importance of home and hospice care funding within the Medicare program cannot be understated. The very same pride in our seniors that helped build our nation and keep us great, must also remain preserved as they grow older. The presence of family and loved ones in later years provides something that no doctor can prescribe or trained professional can provide. When we allow our seniors to stay in their homes and receive the care they need in a place they’re familiar with and know, we help preserve a quality of life that is hard to match elsewhere. Paired with the high cost-effectiveness and convenient access to care this program provides, it’s no wonder why it’s so important to many in our area.
Thorough hospice care has also provided our seniors with additional comfort and dignity, for those who battle ailments that so sadly end up being too persistent to overcome. The ability to preserve quality of life for those among us should be part of the respect we show our seniors.
Cost of Living
We also know that costs are rising for our seniors, both in care and in daily day-to-day purchases of goods and food. I’ve fought to ensure a Social Security Cost-Of-Living-Adjustment for our seniors, and we were able to pass a one-time payment in 2010 in lieu of the adjustment I feel is owed to them. This Congress, I’m a proud cosponsor of legislation to reevaluate the Consumer Price Index that determines such adjustments, creating a “Consumer Price Index for the Elderly,” solely to ensure that we’re basing these decisions on the real and realistic costs that they face day in and day out. Under this new CPI-E system, unrelated factors would not hold any weight when it came to caring for our seniors. This is a fair way to address this very unfair situation.
As we work to preserve Medicare and Social Security in the face of rising costs, one thing remains certain to me — we absolutely cannot shift any added burdens onto the backs of our seniors. From our parents to our grandparents, many have served our nation through its toughest times, from wars to economic hard times. As we see some progress in addressing the rising costs in caring for our seniors, there is much work to be done.
We must remain steadfast in our fight against dangerous proposals of cuts for these important programs. I will not allow our seniors to be used as the political pawn of those in Washington who are clearly out of touch and unaware of their needs. Anyone advocating for less care or benefits for our seniors shows no interest in keeping the promise we’ve held for so long. I’ll continue to keep your views in mind, and continue my work to best represent your interests.
n Congressman Larry Kissell (D-N.C. -8) offices include Rockingham: 230 East Franklin St., Rockingham, N.C. 28379, Phone: 997-2070; Concord number (704) 786-1612; Fayetteville number (910) 920-2070; Washington office: 1632 Longworth HOB, Washington, D.C. 20515; phone (202) 225-3715. Web site, kissell.house.gov.