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Some Seniors Unhappy with Medicare Proposal

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RALEIGH — Congress says everyone should help take a biteout of the federal budget deficit, but senior citizens say they've beenasked to swallow too much with a new Medicare proposal.

The measure would increase the age of eligibility from 65 to 67 and would increase deductibles.

Most seniors say they don't like it. Others say they don't like it, butthat it seems fair.

Many seniors are on fixed incomes, and simply can't afford to pay morethan they already do for medical costs or anything else. Fortunately forthem, this just a proposal now, but even a proposal can make a retireepretty angry.

Some say if the proposal does make its way through Congress to becomelaw, they'll have to forgo a lot of simple pleasures, like theoccasional lunch outing. Sybil Abbott says just ask senior citizens,and they'll make it clear they don't want to pay more.

Some congressmen say it's the Medicare system that needs a kick.Medicare is the fastest growing federal program of any size.Increasing deductibles, and increasing the age of eligibility are justtwo ways to cut costs. Their idea is to target wealthier seniors.Grace Batton told WRAL-TV5'sMarkRobertsthat some seniors think that's fair.

Right now, Medicare beneficiaries pay the first $100 in doctor billseach year. Under the proposed changes, Estelle Yocom's recent cataractsurgery could have cost her a $540 deductible.

One problem with raising the Medicare eligibility age, analysts warn, is that prolonging the time an employee is eligible for health benefitswill mean more expense for employers.

Many are afraid that some companies might respond by cutting coverage.

Photographer:Mark Copeland

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