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Nurses Renew Call for Rep. Benishek to Hold Town Halls On Medicare Plan

Michigan Nurses Assoc. Press Release Press Release, 8/30/12

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Citizens groups join in pushing campaigning Congressman to listen to constituents about key issue

CHEBOYGAN – As Congress continues its 5-week recess, the Michigan Nurses Association renewed its call today for Congressman Dan Benishek (R-Crystal Falls) to take a break from campaigning and hold public town hall meetings to discuss his votes to end Medicare while giving millionaires additional tax breaks. Michigan Citizen Action and Protect Your Care Michigan joined the nurses in demanding that Benishek, who is in Florida this week for the National Republican Convention, listen to the concerns of his constituents at home. 

“I'm speaking out because my Congressman is voting against my patients’ interests,” said Mark Hebert, an ER/ICU nurse and Michigan Nurses Association member who works at War Memorial Hospital in Sault Ste. Marie.  “Congressman Benishek needs to understand that people can’t afford to pay more for health care. If the Benishek-Ryan plan succeeds, even more patients will put off doctor visits, skip their medications and ignore illnesses until it’s too late. People will endanger their health and even their lives, just so insurance companies and millionaires can get richer. Dr. Benishek calls this saving Medicare. I call it putting my patients’ lives at risk.”

Hebert and his fellow nurses have been asking Benishek to hold a public town hall about the Benishek-Ryan plan and its impact on seniors. The Michigan Nurses Association believes a public town hall that lays out the facts about the plan and gives Benishek, a retired surgeon, the chance to respond to criticism will best serve the public.

“The future of Medicare is too important – the public deserves to hear Congressman Benishek explain his votes on Medicare and ask him questions, face to face,” Hebert said. “As a nurse and a constituent, I urge Congressman Benishek to hold a town hall meeting and explain why he supports handing Medicare over to private insurance companies and leaving seniors to cover the costs.”

The nurses have an online petition urging “Dr. Dan” to keep his promise to constituents and protect Medicare, not millionaires. The petition, video and more information are available at www.doctordansdeadlyplan.com.

Congressman Benishek voted to:

  • “Essentially end Medicare,”1 instead creating a system that gives seniors insufficient vouchers to hand over to private insurance companies 2;
  • Raise seniors’ health care costs by $6,400 a year while giving millionaires an additional $150,000 a year in tax breaks3; and
  • Protect his own enhanced health care benefits.4

“The Ryan-Romney budget that Rep. Benishek voted in favor of may be good for the wealthy who don’t have to worry about the cost of health care, but it doesn’t work for average people,” said Linda Teeter, Executive Director of Michigan Citizen Action. “Most seniors don’t have an extra $6,400 a year to pay for healthcare, which is what seniors would be required to come up with under the Benishek/Ryan plan.”

Benishek traveled this week to Florida, where he spoke briefly on Tuesday to the Republican National Convention. 

“In Tampa, Congressman Benishek told those in attendance at the Republican National Convention that he was disgusted by what is going on in Washington D.C.,” said Lonnie Scott, Communications Director for Protect Your Care Michigan. “Congressman Benishek’s constituents are disgusted too; they are disgusted by they fact that their Congressman has been on break for five weeks and has yet to hold a single town hall to hear from the residents of his district.  By voting strictly along party lines and supporting the Romney/Ryan plan to end Medicare as we know it, Congressman Benishek has shown that he is more interested in his party than representing the people of his district.”

1 Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11

2 Long-Term Analysis of a Budget Proposal by Chairman Ryan,” Congressional Budget Office, 4/5/11

3Ibid; “Report of the Committee on the Budget, House of Representatives,” p. 205, 3/23/12

4HR 6079, Vote #459, 7/11/12

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