by: Drs. Aaron Beckerman & Louis Levitt
We are alarmed at some of the proposals being considered by Congress as a consequence of the failure of the “super committee” and want to share our thoughts with you. “We” are Dr. Aaron Beckerman and Dr. Lou Levitt.; both of us are Social Work Pioneers. Aaron was a member of the Chapter’s Board. Lou has been President of the Chapter. We both have been working during our retirement on health reform as members of the steering committee of Rekindling Reform.
In the face of massive unemployment, rampant foreclosures, a sputtering economy and widespread anger that the country is systematically prioritizing the needs of the ultra-rich and wealthy corporations over the needs of the other 99% of us, the law that created the “super committee” now mandates changes to Medicare and Medicaid that will make it harder and more expensive for seniors and the less fortunate to get medical care and pay for their basic living expenses. Hospitals will face a 32% cut in reimbursement for inpatient services under Medicare starting in 2013. Vital social work services will be lost if that happens.
Politicians are used to hearing from organizations. When, however, they receive personal letters from their constituents, and lots of them around the same time, they sit up and pay attention. If all of us would take the time to write to our Senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and to Senate Majority Leader Reid, it would make a difference. If your practice experience can be incorporated in these letters, so much the better. Tell them: absolutely no cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security or Food Stamp benefits. Tell them that money can be saved at the same time as improving these programs. Authorizing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices would save billions.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, 478 Russell, Washington, D.C. 20510
Senator Charles Schumer, 322 Hart Office Building, Washington, D.C., 20510
Senator Harry Reid, 522 Hart Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510
We are very proud of the Chapter’s demonstration in support of Occupy Wall Street. It is an accurate and important crystallization of basic social work values. Senator Bernard Sanders in a recent comment captured those ideas. “In the long term, we need to have the courage to take on the drug companies, insurance companies, and other powerful and well-funded special interests which make billions of dollars off of human illness. Simply stated, we need to move toward a national health care program that guarantees health care to all as a right, not a privilege. When we do that, and end the greed and profiteering in the current system, studies show that we can provide quality care for all Americans without spending a nickel more than we currently spend. “
The burgeoning deficit is real, but as Sen. Sanders suggests, there are far better ways to deal with it than cutting Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Food Stamps or other parts of our country’s social safety net.
* Aaron and Lou can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The web site is www.rekindlingreform.org. We welcome inquiries and would be glad to talk with social workers who want to get more involved in these critical issues.