BUTTE COUNTY: Residents Weigh In On Medicare Reform
Butte County residents have gathered over the past several weeks to add their voices to the chorus of opinion surrounding Congress' attempt to overhaul Medicare. The Butte meetings -- part of a larger set of over 300 meetings nationwide -- have been organized by the League of Women Voters and the Kaiser Family Foundation, which intend to compile their findings and present them to the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare (see related story). Kay Matzdorff, who organized the local meetings, said she was dismayed that the committee "heard only the voices of experts," instead of regular people. "There was no one speaking for the people. But we're the only ones who are living with the problems. We're taking care of aged parents. We're the Baby Boomers," she said.
The Chico Enterprise-Record chronicled the last three meetings, "attended by about 15 people at the Chico City Council Chambers." Many attendees were skeptical of the commission's idea to enroll more seniors in HMOs, an outgrowth of their general suspicion of managed care. Also, most people at the meetings panned the idea of decreasing reimbursements to doctors and providers. Enloe Medical Center nurse Sue Menzie said, "If you cut payments to physicians, you cut quality of care. If you cut payments, you get generalists who do not understand gerontology." Many attendees also blasted the Republican plan to replace the current system with "premium support." Several people at the meeting voiced support for raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67, because, according to Chico City Manager Trish Dunlap, "how long we live has changed a lot." Many people also said "they'd favor ... a tax increase for health care" (Mitchell, 1/4). Click here for previous coverage of Medicare reform.