Activists rallied in the Allegheny County Courthouse courtyard today to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Medicare and to decry possible cuts to the federal healthcare program.
State Senator Jim Ferlo of Allegheny County organized the event. He says many older Americans depend on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security – all programs that the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform may cut.
Ferlo was flanked by a host of community activists and politicians, including Temple Sinai Rabbi James Gibson. He says as Pittsburgh’s population ages, Medicare becomes a local issue.
“What about the people who live to their 70s and 80s, who worked in these steel mills, who worked the streets of this town, who did everything they were asked, and we leave them holding the bag?” says Gibson.
Green Party candidate for Senate Mel Packer says Americans pay taxes for Medicare and Social Security, so the government should not be able to take that money away.
Some speakers, including Ana Malinow of Physicians for a National Health Program, went further, saying Medicare should be expanded to include all United States citizens.
The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform is an 18-member, bipartisan panel formed by President Barack Obama to reduce the federal deficit by 2015. The Commission will announce its recommendations to Congress December 1. Both Congressional chambers are slated to take an up or down vote on the proposal.