Congressional Medicare expansion.
One can hope and organize.
Congressional Democrats are hinting at using their multi-trillion-dollar spending proposal to achieve broadening Medicare benefits for seniors.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said late Tuesday the Budget Committee’s $3.5 trillion plan would include an expansion of Medicare to cover hearing, dental and vision care for the first time.
Adding these benefits to the 56-year-old health insurance program for seniors and the disabled has been a top priority for the committee’s chair, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
One more step towards universal free health care. Or at least universal affordable health care.
It would move us away from the current expansion of the privatization of most of Medicare.
It is why I am so disappointed with those who claim to represent the elderly like AARP and the Illinois Retired Teachers Association (IRTA).
Since retiring almost ten years ago I have been an active IRTA member. I served on the organization’s state political action and legislative committees and on the local board of the North Shore chapter.
I was pleased that IRTA played a crucial role in the legal fight against pension cuts when the state’s two teacher unions and public employee unions were caving to Michael Madigan and John Cullerton.
Without IRTA the Illinois Supreme Court may never have heard the case and may never have had a chance to rule in favor of retirees, protecting our pensions.
But things went south for me this past year when IRTA refused to support the constitutional amendment creating a progressive income tax.
And now the only communication from them are thick envelopes and emails trying to sell me hearing aids, dental insurance and vision plans from private companies.
I get that this is a revenue stream for a retired teacher organization with a tight budget.
But IRTA should be all over the political campaign to expand Medicare to cover hearing, vision and dental.
Retirees all over the state should be hearing from IRTA and our unions supporting Medicare expansion.
And they are not saying anything.
I know that to get the Democrats in Congress to back Bernie, who has been the most outspoken public figure supporting Medicare expansion, will be no small thing.
But the active, vocal support of 40,000 retired Illinois teachers will help.
What retired teachers don’t need is somebody trying to sell us more insurance.