At a rally held last Thursday in Jackson Heights, Make the Road New York and Queens seniors residing in the 7th Congressional District joined forces with Congressman Joseph Crowley to oppose Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan’s proposed plan to cut federal spending on Medicare.
At Make the Road’s Jackson Heights headquarters, Crowley revealed his extensive 15-page report, “Breaking the Promise,” to counter Ryan’s cuts.
“I know my constituents and my country cannot afford the Republican plan,” said Crowley, a Democrat who has represented areas in Queens and the Bronx for over a decade.
Among others joining Crowley was Ana Maria Archila, one of three co-executive directors at Make the Road New York, a not-for-profit organization that has long been an advocate for greater health care accessibility.
Archila, who regularly shifted from English to Spanish for concerned Spanish-speaking attendees, stated that it was time “to re-ignite the fight to protect the basic dignities of working families.”
Surrounding the advocates on both sides, senior citizens held up signs that read: “Say ‘No’ to Medicare Cuts.”
In his highly controversial proposal, the “Path to Prosperity,” which was released in April of this year, Ryan, who promised that the changes would reduce deficits and create new private-sector jobs to stimulate the economy, stated that wealthier beneficiaries would receive lower subsidies while seniors would receive “additional assistance to cover out-of-pocket costs.”
Ryan denied that his plan, which would be implemented in 2022 if passed, would create a voucher program.
But those at the rally did not agree.
“The ‘Path to Prosperity’ will lead us to ruin,” said Crowley, who suggested that the changes put on the table by Ryan would effectively create a voucher system that would “send seniors to an open free market.”
He asserted that with these federal budget cuts, over 80,000 seniors and disabled individuals residing in his district alone would no longer be entitled to free preventative care.
And those between the ages of 44 and 54, like Crowley himself, who turned 49 in March, would need to have collectively saved a total of $25.7 billion more prior to retirement in order to pay for the increased cost of health coverage, according to his report.
“Medicare is very important for me because it guarantees that I’ll be able to see my doctor and stay healthy,” said one senior, a member of Make the Road New York who lives on a fixed income.
For 28-year-old Leni Juca, Ryan’s proposal is a matter of extreme urgency that he believes needs to be addressed now before it is too late.
“By the time I retire, the fight will be gone and it will be lost,” said Juca, who owns Oxium Copy & Print, a small printing shop in Jackson Heights. A long-time resident of the community, Juca urged listeners to take a firm stand against the Republican proposal.
“As a small business owner, it is hard to believe that we will balance our budgets on the backs of our seniors,” he added.
For now, Crowley and Make the Road remain uncompromising.
“As soon as we control the Senate, we won’t let them have their way,” Crowley said.
"Today, with 12,600 dues-paying members, MRNY is a unique amalgam of worker center, legal clinic, citizenship school, mutual aid society, policy shop, protest factory and church. Its four offices in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island are an egalitarian oasis for members, who gather there for conversation and classes..."