Protest focuses on Burr’s Medicare history

William Dworkin, president of North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans, speaks to fellow protesters outside of Richard Burr’s office on Thursday, Aug. 4.

Protest focuses on Burr’s Medicare history
August 11
06:30 2016

Photo by Todd Luck



A protest on Thursday, Aug. 4, in front of Sen. Richard Burr’s Winston-Salem field office tried to draw attention to his support of increasing privatization in Medicare.

The protest, organized by the N.C. Democratic Party, had about 30 people holding signs on the corner of Miller and First streets. There was a table set up with mock coupons for Medicare. It was a reference to the Seniors Choice Act, a 2012 proposal by Burr and Sen. Tom Coburn to give seniors a fixed amount that could be applied toward a private plan or a government plan modeled on Medicare. Protestors chanted “Medicare now, coupons never!”

William Dworkin, president of North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans, told his fellow protestors he was afraid that such a plan would not cover the entire cost of insurance, especially for those in bad health.

“I want it to be simple, comprehensive and standard,” he said.

Matilda Phillips, president of North Carolina Senior Democrats, and Fred Terry, president of Forsyth County Senior Democrats, also spoke on their fears that future coverage might not be complete and comprehensive if the program shifted toward privatization.

“What we have now, we paid for, and what we have now must continue,” said Terry, a former city council member.

As of 2015, more than 55 million Americans were covered by Medicare, but the Congressional Budget Office has forecasted it will become insolvent by 2026. Burr’s proposal in 2012 was touted as a way to prevent insolvency. Along with the choice of plans, it also proposed gradually raising the retirement age to 67, increasing Medicare Part B premiums and having out-of-pocket protection so seniors wouldn’t pay more than $7,500 per year in medical expenses.

Burr said at the time he hoped it would act as blue-print for legislation, but his campaign site makes no mention of it, simply saying he would “fight to protect our retirement programs so that America’s seniors can continue to count on these benefits being there for them.”

The protest was held on the same day that Democratic nominee Deborah Ross attacked him on Social Security and Medicare at an event in Fayetteville. Ross was recently endorsed by the non-partisan National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare because, according to the organization, she understands and supports “the critical roles that Social Security and Medicare play in the retirement and health security of our nation’s older citizens and their families.”

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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