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Published: Thursday, 4/24/2014 - Updated: 5 months ago

Group speaks up against effort to slash health care, benefits

Organization makes presentation to Toledo senior citizens

BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Sam Burnett, a volunteer with the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, speaks during Wednesday’s event at the Margaret Hunt Senior Center in South Toledo. Sam Burnett, a volunteer with the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, speaks during Wednesday’s event at the Margaret Hunt Senior Center in South Toledo.
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When Bob Wicks of Maumee learned that he could have lost health and Social Security benefits under a bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), his face grew red from anger.

Mr. Wicks, 72, was one of about 100 senior citizens gathered at Toledo’s Margaret Hunt Senior Center on Wednesday to listen to a presentation by advocates opposed to the GOP’s efforts to cut government assistance to the elderly and disabled.

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“He doesn’t understand what the average person’s experiences can be like,” Mr. Wicks said of Mr. Ryan.

When he was 52, doctors had to perform a brain operation on him, he said. The procedure allows him to still function, although with some physical difficulty. Without Medicaid, he said he would never have been able to afford the expensive procedure.

The Republican-dominated House of Representatives passed the bill on April 10, but the U.S. Senate already said it would not consider the bill.

But representatives from the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, who sponsored Wednesday’s event said the danger isn’t over.

Max Richtman, president and CEO of the lobbying organization, said Mr. Ryan’s proposal would have cut $700 billion from Medicaid, which also pays for nursing home care.

His organization seeks small changes, such as providing Social Security care-giving credits for women who briefly quit working to care for their children.

Gertrude Robinson, 83, of Toledo said she’s grateful that she has insurance that allows her to receive day care at the Margaret Hunt Senior Center, 2121 Garden Lake Pl. She uses a wheelchair because of health problems.

The Toledo “Rally Against the Ryan Budget” featured a panel including U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), Mr. Richtman, and Sam Burnett, a volunteer with the national lobbying organization.

Other panelists included Norm Wernet, state president of the Alliance for Retired Americans, and guest speaker Beth Kramer of Swanton, who shared her testimony of how Medicare saved her life.

Contact Federico Martinez at: fmartinez@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.



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