Proposed Medicare Overhaul Means Big Changes For Seniors

Friday, April 22nd 2011, 11:39 pm
By: News 9

Jacqueline Sit, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- To help cut the budget deficit, Medicare could see a major overhaul in the near future and it could have an impact on Oklahomans.

Under the budget proposal, Medicare would change into a program where the government helps seniors purchase private health insurance. As it stands now, the government pays doctors and hospitals for treating seniors. The changes will not affect those who live in poverty and citizens who are currently 55 or older.

"There is no change at all, excuse the term, they're grandfathered in. For those who are 55 years and older, there is no changes for the rest of their life on it," said Rep. James Lankford, R- 5th District.

The proposed plan will affect those who are under 54 years of age, and those who can afford it will pay a premium for Medicare after the year 2022.

"Those that are younger are going to pay part of that premium for them, and then for themselves they're also going to have to pay part of it if they're wealthier," Lankford said.

But it will not affect those who are on disability, like Edmond veteran Shauna Weides, who was injured after seven years of service in the Air Force.

"If I were in the position to where I have to pay my premiums, right now there's just no way I'd be able to do it," Weides said.

Weides said this will affect her relatives and others who are on a fixed income.

"If they end up having to pay all these extra premiums and things, they're going to end up having to go without," Weides said. "By the time our generation is at the retirement age, we're not going to have a lot of the Medicare, Medicaid available to us. With all the Baby Boomers and everything that are going through the system now, there's not going to be a whole lot left."

Congressman Lankford said with a lot of seniors retiring, this is a crucial time for changes.

"Now is the time to do it when we're forward thinking rather than be reactionary 10 years from now," Lankford said.

Lankford said there's no telling how much the proposed premiums will cost but it will be based on a sliding scale.

Lankford will be holding two town hall meetings on April 28 on issues debated in Washington that will affect Oklahomans. The first one will be in downtown Oklahoma City. The other town hall meeting will be in Shawnee.