Rep. Harris wants to privatize Medicare

May 16, 2011

This spring I attended two town hall meetings hosted by Rep. Andy Harris. As part of the minority in the 1st Congressional District, I wanted to express my opinion regarding the Republican agenda in Congress. At both meetings, Rep. Harris presented lots of charts and graphs to show how we are heading for "deficit infinity."

One of his solutions was to "privatize/personalize" Medicare by issuing vouchers to purchase insurance policies from for-profit companies. He explained that the "new and improved" Medicare would function like the Part D Prescription Drug program — a Bush administration proposal that allowed "Big Pharma" access to millions of new customers without any cost controls. Representative Harris tried to convince me that this would be the best solution for the coming generation of retirees.

This would be a cost shift to people on fixed incomes, like me. Under Part D, patients who use more than $5,000 for prescription medications in a calendar year are then "on their own" for a period — the so-called "donut hole."

Will there be a "donut hole" for patients with vouchers for the private/personal insurance policies that Dr. Harris and Rep. Paul Ryan are proposing?

When President Johnson signed the Medicare law in 1964, I was a young mother and didn't realize how important this program would be in my golden years. I absolutely will not deny my adult daughters this benefit when they reach retirement. There must be better solutions to the Medicare dilemma.

Janice Likens, Perry Hall

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