If you’re inclined to vote Democratic this year and are concerned about the state of medical care for the elderly, you can express those concerns at the polls on Nov. 8 by voting on the “Save Medicare” line.
Southold Democratic Committee Chairman Art Tillman confirmed this past weekend that the Suffolk County Board of Elections validated the party’s “Save Medicare” petitions, which were challenged by Southold Republican Party members.
“Those dependent upon Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid now have an opportunity to send the message to preserve and protect these programs from Republican's proposed cuts,” Tillman said. “You don’t mess with these entitlements."
Though local elected officials can do nothing to directly sway a federal vote, Tillman believes that the line will allow Southold senior citizens and others concerned about Medicare to send a message to Washington through their ballots.
House Republicans proposed deep cuts to Medicare and Medicaid in early April in an effort to cut $4 trillion in spending over 10 years. The move would essentially privatize Medicare for those under the age of 55.
For Lynn Summers, Democratic candidate for Southold Town Trustee, this proposal is unfair to “all of us who have worked all of our lives paying into this system,” she said.
“I’m getting to be that age when I could qualify for Medicare — all of us running are, really,” she said. “But I found that the issue is important to young people too. It was very enlightening to hear their thoughts outside of IGA when we were getting petition signatures.”
Denis Noncarrow, Chairman of the Southold Republican Party, said that party members decided to challenge the "Save Medicare" petitions because they felt that the Democrats were spinning the issue and misleading voters.
"To say that your vote for a Southold Town candidate is a vote for Medicare is a total lie," he said. "We felt it was a way to get senior citizens worried and scared enough about the issue to vote for them."
Noncarrow said that members of the Board of Elections had a split decision on whether to allow the formation of the party line or not, which meant that the Republicans would have had to continue their challenge in court — something they did not want to burden the taxpayers with, he said.
Summers said she acknowledged the expensive problem of Medicare fraud and that it does need to be addressed to tighten spending.
“But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water and leave people completely on their own who need help,” she said. “This will destroy people’s lives.”
Southold is the only town on Long Island with a “Save Medicare” line.
“The AARP has been placing ads on TV for seniors to contact their congress people regarding proposed cuts,” Tillman said. “To vote for candidates on the Save Medicaid line this November is another way to send the message.”
You can also vote on the Independence and Working Families party lines for Bob Meguin, Democratic Candidate for Southold Town Supervisor, and on the Working Families line for Marie Domenici, Democratic Candidate for Southold Town Council.