Take Action Against Cuts to Seniors

Proposed Cuts to the Medicare Savings Program and the Drugs for the Elderly Program - March 2015

Thank you for helping get calls out to Appropriation Committee members before they heard public testimony in early March on devastating cuts to programs that help very low-income seniors access drug and health benefits.  The Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee (see attached) will be considering these same cuts on Monday and members of the HHS committee need to hear from you this weekend!

The Governor proposes significant cuts to existing drug and health care benefits for 40,000 very low income Maine seniors by reducing eligibility for the Medicare Savings Program (MSP) and the Drugs for the Elderly (DEL) program.  These cuts will eliminate all benefits for 14,000 people currently receiving them  and significantly reducing the benefit for 21,000 more.  Nearly 2,000 will lose all benefits under the DEL program.

Most of the older adults losing these benefits are on fixed incomes but will have to now pay thousands of dollars out of pocket for health care and drugs.  More than a quarter of Maine seniors live on only Social Security, with an average income of under $14,000.  Yet, if these cuts go through, any older Mainer who receives MSP or DEL who earns more than $12,700 will lose money out of their pockets and anyone earning more than $16,800 will lose all benefits entirely.  Cutting MSP and DEL will increase the suffering of thousands of low-income Maine seniors and be disastrous for our economy because many of these seniors will stop taking life-saving medication, meaning increased costs for emergency services, hospitalization and long term care.  These same cuts are about equal to the estate tax give-away the Governor proposes for only 150 wealthy people, half of whom don’t even live in Maine!  We’re not in a budget crisis and still the Governor is proposing to cut life-saving programs that keep our most vulnerable seniors healthy and living at home! This just doesn’t add up!

There are MANY ways for you to help us defeat these cuts:

  • If you oppose these cuts and live in the Senate District of House District of an HHS Committee member, they really need to hear directly from you before Monday!  While anyone can call them, they will be most persuaded by people who live in their districts! Tell them we can’t afford cuts that hurt the health of seniors at a time when the rest of our infrastructure that supports older adults is failing.  Members of this committee in particular will hear many bills this session that ask them to make necessary investments, not cuts, in housing, transportation and services that help people age in place.
  • If you haven’t already, sign AARP’s Petition in Opposition to the Cuts which automatically sends an email to the Governor and your legislators (do this in ADDITION to making calls!)
  • Send this message to your friends and colleagues and get them to do the same!

If you can’t take action right now, or get this notice too late, don’t worry!  While this is a critical part of the process, the decision on these cuts won’t be made until sometime in June.  Until then, we’ll need to keep the pressure on through many different ways.  I’ll make sure you know how to help in the coming months!  Stay tuned!

But, if you can, please take action now!