Local News

Some Seniors Unhappy with Medicare Proposal

Posted June 19, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Congress says everyone should help take a bite out of the federal budget deficit, but senior citizens say they've been asked 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, but that it seems fair.

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

Some say if the proposal does make its way through Congress to become law, they'll have to forgo a lot of simple pleasures, like the occasional 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 just two ways to cut costs. Their idea is to target wealthier seniors. Grace Batton told WRAL-TV5'sMark Robertsthat some seniors think that's fair.

Right now, Medicare beneficiaries pay the first $100 in doctor bills each year. Under the proposed changes, Estelle Yocom's recent cataract surgery 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 benefits will mean more expense for employers.

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

Photographer:Mark Copeland