Medicare reform: No, the sky is not falling
ver the past several weeks, I have read numerous articles about Medicare reform. Most of them are long on speculation and short on facts—and no, the Republicans are not going to toss Granny off the cliff. The following information is directly from Paul Ryan’s website. These are facts, not speculation from people who have an agenda. I have no agenda; I am just interested in providing my clients and interested seniors with facts— not rumors and conjecture. First, the bad news: Medicare is broken and needs to be fixed. The good news is that while there are a few minor changes in the works, none of the major changes being proposed will affect those of us who are currently on Medicare or about to turn 65. Why are they tampering with Medicare? There are not enough people paying into the system to make it sustainable. If Congress keeps kicking the can down the road, the system will collapse and everyone will lose. In 1966, there were 19.1 million people enrolled in Medicare. On July 28, 2015, the 50th anniversary of Medicare, there were over 55 million. That’s a 188% increase. Furthermore, there are 10,000 people a day turning 65, which will continue until 2030. What has Paul Ryan proposed to fix Medicare? Beginning in 2024, people joining Medicare for the first time will have the option to choose between private plans or traditional Medicare. Beneficiaries can choose the health plan that best suits their needs. There will be premium support provided by the federal government for direct payments to the selected health plan to subsidize its cost. Individuals with serious health conditions, as well as lowincome Americans, will be eligible for higher premium support payments. For those of us already on Medicare, nothing will change except that we will have the option of going on the privatized system. Can things change between what is being proposed and what will be in the final bill? Absolutely, but nothing radical has been proposed for those of us currently on Medicare, and nothing will take effect for at least eight years. If Medicare isn’t fixed, we’ll all suffer. Congress’ challenge is to fix what is broken without breaking what is currently working. So what can you do to make your voice heard? Get involved! Write your senators and representatives, write letters to the editor, and most importantly, get together with other like-minded seniors. To stay informed of the proposed changes to Medicare, like me on Facebook or check out the Articles page on my website. Lew Barr is an independent insurance agent specializing in Medicare products for seniors.
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Staring in the face of danger: a ride-along with Mesa County deputies By Kathy Applebee
had mixed feelings as I waited for a deputy from the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) to pick me up for a ride-along. If the night ahead was exciting, it would mean bad things were happening around the county, and I didn’t wish that for anyone. On the other hand, if nothing happened during the 11-hour shift, I was likely to nod off before 5 a.m. As it turned out, the ride-along was more than I’d bargained for—both heart-stopping and heart-breaking. By the end of the night, I was deeply impressed with the deputy, Brandon Barry, a seven-year veteran of the force. He kept a cool head when my stress level would have been off the charts, yet maintained a warm, caring heart toward the people he served.
The night begins The first thing Deputy Barry did was acquaint me with the features of the vehicle and equipment onboard, from the practical to tactical, including weapons and stuffed animals. We needed the mobile drug testing lab at our first stop, where a parole officer doing a home check had noticed a suspicious baggie filled with white crystals in the driveway. After we’d located the stash and called for backup, on-site testing revealed that the crystals were not meth, but Epsom salts. We were back on patrol within minutes, far more quickly than if the baggie had needed to go to a lab for processing.
A taste of danger A domestic dispute, a possible break-in by armed assailants and a report of someone sleeping in a storage unit were interesting but routine. My first taste of danger occurred late into the night as officers checked
into a 911 hang-up. Why was the woman in tears when dispatch called back? Was she coerced into saying she was fine? I was locked in the vehicle for my own protection while deputies conducted a house-to-house search based on a rough estimate of her cell phone’s location. I monitored the situation via the radio, all sleepiness erased as I watched car after car of backup officers arrive on scene. They found the caller, but she wasn’t alone. Her male companion doused the lights inside their trailer, screaming that if she went outside to speak to law enforcement, the officers would shoot her. I listened as long periods of radio silence were punctuated with deployment directions and concerns that children might be inside the trailer. The man pulled his shirt over his face in case of a gas attack. A female officer tried coaxing the woman outside. No shots were fired. No arrests were made. The shift commander had officers stand down so they could answer the calls stacking up, instructing the team that any further calls originating from this location should be given priority. An onboard computer kept deputies informed of the calls coming in throughout Mesa County. With the tap of a finger, Barry could get additional details as needed. If something else happened at the trailer, we’d know. We went back on the road.
Preventing tragedy Nearing midnight, Barry pulled over a vehicle headed onto I-70. I’d missed the danger signs: no turn signal, making a left from a non-turning lane, slightly crossing the lines. The driver exited his car for a sobriety test, and Barry had to steady him
Published on May 31, 2017