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A loud cry of advocacy for keeping Medicare/MediCal fully funded

Trish Welsh Taylor
Staff Writer
10/18/2011

The public was invited to come to the Eastern Plumas Health Care Education Center and tell Rocky Deal, assistant to Congressman Tom McClintock, that proposed cuts to Medicare and MediCal would devastate EPHC’s skilled nursing facilities (SNFs).

Well, come it did. On Thursday, Oct. 13, the public filled all the seats, lined the walls and overflowed out of two open doors. With tempers getting hot a few times, the extra cool air helped.

Deal spoke for a bit and then opened the floor for comments.

Residents had a lot to tell Deal. To sum it up, the people attending the meeting reasoned that health care should be the highest priority in funding decisions at state and federal levels.

Complaints ranged over a spectrum of specifics:

—Prescription drugs cost way too much and for questionable causes.

—Unemployment in Plumas County is higher than average and cost of living is higher as well.

—Loss of medical/SNF funding means loss of jobs, which puts Plumas County into an even worse situation.

—Loss of jobs means even more people will need the medical and financial support.

—Money spent on wars should be spent on health care.

—Inmates received better health care than seniors and the poor.

—Get rid of inefficiencies of the system, not the funding.

—It’s just wrong to take away from needy seniors.

Jeri Nelson, chief financial officer at EPHC, reminded Deal that the message to take back to McClintock was simply to tell the CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicare Services), “No! Don’t cut funding that will hurt the skilled nursing facilities of California.”

The SNFs are the foundation of EPHC’s other medical services provided to the area. McClintock has power to advocate for rural hospitals. Nelson directly asked that he do that.

The clarity of Nelson’s message got lost in more angry cries over “inequity of funds distribution,” as one person put it.

Toward the end of the hour, one person asked if our nation had come to a point where it is ready to abandon senior citizens.

Deal received a challenge from several voices in the room to come again to Plumas County with McClintock, a Republican, and a Democratic congressman who would show up together with a plan to save hospitals like EPHC. One man said, “Forget about parties.” He wanted legislators to do their jobs.

There was a refusal in the room to believe that there is no solution to the country’s health care woes if those who govern would agree to come together to find a solution.

Deal’s response at one point was, “This is not the only thing going on.” He inferred that other issues also take the interest of representatives in Congress, at which point Supervisor Jon Kennedy demanded, “It can’t happen.” He said the idea of the proposed cuts “is so absurd it’s like a dream.”

A bad dream.

 


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