WNYT.com

Healthcare advocates protest federal cuts

Posted at: 12/28/2012 5:30 PM
Updated at: 12/28/2012 5:44 PM
By: Beth Wurtmann

ALBANY -  They waved signs saying "Healthcare is a Human Right," and "Put patients first."

Protester sent a message to the nation's lawmakers to avoid the so-called 'fiscal cliff,' with automatic cuts to federal safety nets.

"Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security are not programs, they're people. These are individual people who are affected, whose lives are greatly impacted by the monies that they get," said Frances Rosenau, Associate Paster Westminster Presbyterian Church in Albany.

Rosenau said she's concerned that the debate in Washington centers mainly around tax rates.

"The Boener and Obama camps are going back and forth about what kind of taxes there are going to be what kind of revenues and that is really the only conversation whereas nobody is talking about these vital programs that provide for the neediest people in our communities," she added.

"We say no to meddling with Social Security! We say no to any cuts to Medicare and Medicaid!" said protestor Carol Ann Lemon.

Carol Ann Lemon a nurse at Ellis hospital fears the cuts will hurt seniors and low income families that depend on the government. Even if lawmakers do come to an agreement, these entitlement programs may still be trimmed as part of the deficit reduction plan.

"It's gonna decrease the ability to care for the patients, it's gonna decrease the reimbursements, it's going to prevent more access for patients to get the care that they need," said Lemon, who is also on the board of the NYS Nurses Association.

In the short term, the advocates rallying want lawmakers to ensure funding for the entitlement programs.

But some of them are also calling for an overhaul of the healthcare system with a single payer plan and one insurance pool.