The Wang Center was packed with Massachusetts residents rallying to stop any federal cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid on Wednesday.
More than 30 unions and members of senior organizations including AARP, the City of Boston's Elderly Commission, Ethos, and Agewell West Roxbury, constantly rose to their feet with signs calling for no cuts to the vital national medical programs.
Many supporters were from out of state, too, from New York, New Hampshire and Maine. After the Wang Rally, the protesters were going to be in a 40+ bus caravan past the offices of US Senators Scott Brown and John Kerry's.
Several speakers encouraged residents to contact Brown and Kerry to let them know to stop federal cuts to those programs. Speakers noted the "Super Committee" or the US Congress John Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, is meeting to allegedly cut $1.5 trillion from federal spending by Nov. 23.
- Kerry's Boston office call: 617-565-8519
- Kerry's Washington, D.C. office call: 202-224-2742
- Brown's Boston office call: 617-565-3170
- Brown's D.C. office call: 202-224-4543
Sitting in the audience with coworkers and West Roxbury senior citizens was Ethos Executive Director Dale Mitchell. He said that Ethos personnel came to the rally because the organization is about "all about protecting elders." He said that elders worked for their Social Security payments, and that it is only fair to have them receive those checks.
Ethos runs important organizations like AgeWell West Roxbury, which helps West Roxbury senior citizens age in their own home versus a retirement home. Mitchell urged West Roxbury residents to contact Brown and Kerry, too. He noted that Kerry is one of the 12 Super Committee members, which makes lobbying to him even more important.
On stage, Max Richtman, president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, gave a fiery speech criticizing the Super Committee. "Seniors paid for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. These are benefits you earned!"
Deborah Banda, state director of AARP Massachusetts, said that one recent proposal would take $112-billion out of Social Security based on a formula that assumes consumers would choose cheaper products if Social Security payments were reduced. Another proposal is raise the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65- to 67-years-old.
"These [programs] are the lifelines to millions of people," said Banda. "You are not a budget number. You are not a spreadsheet. You are not a pushover!"
Banda then compared the audience to Minutemen, who during the Revolutionary War, formed a militia and road from town-to-town, fighting foreign invaders.
She then encouraged people to go and tell everyone they know to call Massachusetts' US Senators and Congressmen to tell them there should be no federal cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Statistics about Social Security (provided by AARP Public Policy Institute 2011):
- 88.9% of Mass. seniors, or 805,400, received Social Security in 2010. The average annual benefit was $13,900
- Low- and middle-income seniors in Mass. typically receive 74.2% of their individual income from Social Security
- Social Security provided $14.61 billion in benefits to Massachusetts residents in 2009.
Statistics about Medicare (provided by AARP Public Policy Institute 2011):
- Nearly 99.7% of Mass. seniors, or 890,913, were enrolled in Medicare in 2009.
- For the typical Mass. senior on Medicare, out of pocket spending for health care takes up 22.8% of their income.
- Medicare spent $10.87 billion on health care services for Mass. residents in 2010.
Statistics about Medicaid (provided by Social Security Works 2011):
- More than 1 out of 6 Mass. residents received Medicaid benefits in 2010.
- 3 out of 10 children, or 392,400, in the state were insured through Medicaid.