California Forum

Seniors to McClintock: Chaos of health care repeal is the real danger

Rep. Tom McClintock fields questions from an audience of about 150 at Tower Theater in Roseville on Feb. 4.
Rep. Tom McClintock fields questions from an audience of about 150 at Tower Theater in Roseville on Feb. 4.

I am a senior citizen, a retired nurse and a volunteer at my church. In my 71 years, no one has ever called me an “anarchist.” But that’s the way my congressman, Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, dismissed me and other retirees from Placer County who attended his town-hall meeting Feb. 4.

McClintock invented a false story about threats of violence at the event to distract from a real danger facing seniors: losing our health care.

We’re terrified by McClintock’s support for repealing the Affordable Care Act, sticking us with soaring prescription bills and destabilizing Medicare. We went to his town hall because we are fighting for our lives.

Through Medicare, I have been able to manage my health in partnership with my doctor. Although I take fewer prescriptions than most seniors I know, the costs still take a huge bite out of my Social Security check. Living with lupus, diabetes and heart disease, it was a huge weight off my mind to know that the Affordable Care Act was there to help with my medicine and allow me to afford a supplemental Medicare plan for doctors and hospital visits.

Now, with President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans aiming to gut the Affordable Care Act, I’m scared.

Recently, I learned the debilitating pain in my hands is carpal tunnel syndrome; I may need surgery. With the uncertainty around my health care, I told my doctor I had to wait before treatment. “Not if you want to keep using your hands,” he warned.

If McClintock and the GOP take our health care away, they’ll be sentencing millions of seniors to a lifetime of pain and disability, or even hasten our death.

In public, McClintock gives assurances that Republicans will make health care better, but a leaked recording tells a different story. Behind closed doors, McClintock admits he doesn’t know what will happen to our health care without the Affordable Care Act. He’s counting on the fact that many people don’t know the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare are one and the same, and that repealing the ACA will not only strip 5 million Californians of health care coverage, it will make seniors pay an average of $700 more each year for prescriptions.

Republicans have no plan to stop there. They’ve set their sights on dismantling the promise of Medicare for millions of seniors and gutting federal funding for Medi-Cal, California’s health plan for the poor.

I faithfully paid into Medicare my whole working life, sometimes working two jobs. Now Republicans like McClintock dismiss our health care as an “entitlement” rather than an insurance policy we bought into with decades of hard work. Their plan to replace Medicare with “vouchers” means turning our care over to insurance companies that can reduce care and raise our costs. It means breaking the promise of health security for seniors that generations of Americans have worked to keep.

I know what it’s like to live in fear of getting sick. Before I qualified for Medicare, Kaiser and Blue Shield turned me away for insurance because of pre-existing conditions. When the Affordable Care Act was passed, I volunteered through my church to help people in Placer County sign up. Now, I’m working to protect the care that saves seniors money, gives us peace of mind and helps us stay healthy.

Seniors are passing out fliers in church, going door-to-door in our neighborhoods, and writing and calling Rep. McClintock. Our effort to save our health care through the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medi-Cal is the opposite of anarchy – it’s organizing, and we won’t stop so long as our lives are on the line.

Diana Carpenter-Madoshi, who lives in Rocklin, is a retired nurse and a member of the California Alliance of Retired Americans. She can be contacted at