Seniors Skeptical of Burr’s Medicare Plan

(Last Updated On: October 19, 2016)



Senator Richard Burr was no where to be seen as senior citizens visited his office in Winston-Salem recently to ask about his uncertain stance on Medicare.

Although Burr was not in his office, a representative was there and could not answer their questions.

“I was completely stunned,” said Bill Dworkin, president of Alliance for Retired Americans. “He was unable to respond on basic information to the senator’s position, which is surprising for a constituency office.”

Critics believe that the Medicare program suggested by the incumbent Republican senator would negatively impact the state.

A component in Burr’s proposed Medicare program includes vouchers.

These vouchers, also called CouponCare, provide senior citizens a set amount of money each year to look for a Medicare policy, by traditional Medicare or private health insurance.

But critics say that will not be enough for items most seniors need, such as prescription medication.

There is a concern that the voucher might not cover the increasing cost and that seniors will have to pay the difference.

It seems that Burr wants to privatize the insurance companies, which would allow for such companies to have more power in setting premiums.

Under Burr’s plan, critics believe that private insurance companies can scale back on coverage.

Those corporations could have the ability to not provide coverage for illnesses and treatments such as chemotherapy. In doing so, seniors who need such coverage would go to traditional companies.

Those against the plan believe this is a way for private companies to keep the healthier citizens among the elderly in their coverage pool and receive their voucher payments, while taxpayers are left with the least healthy who need more medical care.

Senator Burr has been receiving backlash after he accepted money from insurance companies who support his Medicare program.

Critics believe that Burr is interested more in special interest groups rather than the people he is representing after he received approximately $1 million in campaign donations from the insurance industry.

The plan was proposed in 2012, yet the senator and his campaign have released different positions throughout the recent campaign against Democratic challenger Deborah Ross, a former legislator from Wake County.

Burr, who had introduced the program four years ago, may not plan for it to become a bill as senior citizens and voters have been openly vocal with the their disapproval.

The senator seems to be backtracking on his own program as the election nears but will not give a stance on his plan. The plan would raise the standard premium by 9 percent, or about $240 annually.

The eligibility age would rise to 67 under Burr’s plan. Ross has attacked his plan throughout her campaign, including in television ads.

She’s stated that Burr is trying to privatize Medicare and hand it to the insurance companies while she believes in protecting retirees.

Dworkin, the president of Alliance for Retired Americans, believes that raising the eligibility age would make it difficult for people who would face higher premiums for health insurance or higher out of pocket costs. He says that Burr’s positions can be tracked to the healthcare and agricultural industries that support him.

Dworkin believes that if the bill were to pass, Medicare would be placed at the mercy of the markets. He believes this is an important issue and said that although people who are in their mid-60s are experienced they are the least employable folks because they can’t work until 67.

The president of the Alliance for Retirees also stated that it isn’t feasible for people who are older to begin hunting for health insurance policies in regards to the voucher plan.

He says that the current and traditional Medicare plan is good with people being eligible at 65, paying their own deductibles and sharing the payment for drugs.

However, Dworkin also believes that Medicare needs to negotiate prescription drug prices.

“I don’t know if we can say that he has taken it back because he has flipped and flopped in the last month. I hope he does because it’s harmful,” said Dworkin.

Dworkin believes that Senator Burr does not have a core plan and calls the voucher plan an ‘absolute horror’.