Massachusetts seniors launch historic push for affordable healthcare

  • Seniors from across Massachusetts press lawmakers to enact health care legislation. submitted photo

Published: 7/10/2019 9:47:12 PM

BOSTON — A hundred seniors from across Massachusetts packed a Beacon Hill hearing Tuesday pressing lawmakers to enact life-saving healthcare legislation. The bill would make healthcare more affordable for 70,000 low-income seniors, who are no longer eligible for subsidies through Connector Care but don’t qualify for subsidies under the federal Medicare Savings Plan (MSP).

Seniors finally — after five years and hundreds of hours of grassroots organizing — got their day on Beacon Hill, making their voices heard on this critical issue for seniors’ health and quality of life. A dozen senior advocates testified about the hard choices they have to make every day.

“It’s a real hardship — you have to really think about it, when you go to CVS —- can I afford this medication and still pay all my bills,” Edna Pruce, 80, of Mattapan said. “Many of us have worked our whole lives, and we shouldn’t have to live like this.”

The bill would close the gap between Connector Care and the Medicare Savings Program, providing subsidies through a three-step “staircase.” In year one, MSP eligibility would expand to 165 percent of the federal poverty level. In year two, eligibility would increase to seniors with income up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level. In the third year, seniors with income up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level would have access to the Medicare Savings Program.

“We can’t keep letting people fall through the cracks when they turn 65 — it’s unacceptable,” John Robinson, 70, of Somerville said. “If we do, then Massachusetts isn’t the leader in healthcare that everyone thinks we are.”

The bill enjoys support from more than 100 lawmakers — both Republicans and Democrats, but has never —until now — come to a full vote.

“Passing this bill has to be a priority this year,” Joan Noble, 80, of Lynn said. “We can’t wait another year for this relief, we have waited long enough.”

Seniors are asking legislative leadership to support this measure to ensure that no low-income senior is forced to forgo medical care because of the cost.

Massachusetts Senior Action Council (MSAC) is a statewide, grassroots, senior-led organization that empowers its members to use their own voices to address key public policy and community issues that affect their health and well-being. Now in its fourth decade of organizing, Mass. Senior Action is an effective, grassroots activist group, led by seniors fighting for social justice. It is the acknowledged “go-to” organization in Massachusetts for developing intergenerational social change strategies to safeguard and strengthen the systems that all community members need to rely on for economic and health security.


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