This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
My life feels a lot like tip-toeing on eggshells every day. I am 80 years old, living in a mobile home community, facing rising costs to stay in my home with just a small, stagnant monthly payment from Social Security to make ends meet. If it weren't for Medicare covering my health expenses, something would have cracked by now.
That's why I'm keeping a close eye on Sen. Orrin Hatch and his fellow senators, who are trying to revise a health care bill that would decimate Medicaid as we know it and devastate the lives so many Utahans.
I have supported Hatch, but I am deeply disappointed by his role in the Senate's secret health care negotiations, designed to keep the bill a secret from the tens of millions of people who will be harmed by it.
The Senate bill is a bad deal for Utah. Like the House's bill, the Senate version would bring deep and debilitating cuts to Medicaid – as much as $772 billion by 2026, according to the Congressional Budget Office. For the more than 300,000 Utahans that depend on Medicaid – including seniors, people with disabilities and families with children – these cuts could be a matter of life or death.
My best friend is a perfect example. She would be homeless today without Medicaid, which helps cover the cost of her assisted living facility and ongoing, long-term care. Even with Medicaid coverage and financial help from her son, after her care is paid for she lives on just $40 per month. If her Medicaid coverage is cut, she'll go from living on the edge of a cliff to falling over it. Millions of vulnerable Utahans like my best friend live in fear of what will happen if the Senate succeeds in gutting Medicaid – all so they can give a giant tax break to billionaires.
If Congress succeeds in repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with this callous legislation, millions will be left at risk of losing their health, their homes and even their lives. My friends and neighbors in my manufactured home community are already living on next to nothing – the reality of rising lot rents and health care costs often forces them to choose between putting food on the table and paying for their medicine. No one should be put in that position, but the proposed legislation would add millions more to the ranks of the uninsured.
I've been working for years to improve living conditions for myself and my neighbors, from meetings with city leaders to lobbying for state legislation. I will keep fighting, no matter the odds, because I believe we have an obligation to protect the most vulnerable members of our society. All I ask is that Hatch and our leaders in Washington do the same.
Sen. Hatch, for years I have put my trust in you with my vote. Now, I ask that you remember your duty: to look out for the interests of the everyday Utahans you serve, not billionaires and corporations.
I urge Hatch and every member of the Senate to vote no on any proposal that would put our most vulnerable residents in harm's way.
Shirlene Stoven lives in Midvale, Utah.