Today I joined the ten thousand baby boomers who turn 65 every day. Unlike far too many of them, I’m happy about it, partly because now I qualify for Medicare so I can quit my day job and become a full-time activist. That ought to be cause for some kind of celebration, but I’m too disgusted by the proposed evisceration of the Affordable Care Act.
Much of the media coverage focuses on the fact that people on Medicaid would be the largest group to lose health insurance coverage. That group is disproportionately made up of olders with lower incomes and people with disabilities, who receive nearly two thirds of Medicaid spending. Medicaid pays for most of the 1.4 million people in nursing homes, many of whom entered old age solidly middle class, and ended up on Medicaid after exhausting their savings. That probably won’t happen to me, but only Medicaid covers services like home care that allow many olders to remain in their communities. And I’ll definitely need Medicare, which is also under threat.
This evil bill would really hit in ten years, by which time the rest of the baby boom will have rounded 65—and when the old vs. young rhetoric would really heat up. We can’t let that happen. Make no mistake: this legislation wouldn’t just harm the old, the poor, and the disabled. It is an attack on everyone anyone who might get old, might fall ill, might start a family—or who loves someone who might. It would shred the social fabric that supports all but those who can afford their own private safety nets. We’re all in this together.