Just ask Esther Lenette or Gerry Johnston. They came to Capitol Hill recently to offer some straight talk to members of Congress and the media about the vital roles Social Security and Medicare fill for retirees especially during this economic recession.  HPIM1536-compressed Esther is 91 years old; she still drives and lives independently in Montgomery County, Maryland.  Her Social Security income is $1,117 dollars a month and she can’t imagine what she’d do without this guaranteed income.  She also wonders if she’ll be able to pay all of her bills, if there is no COLA next year. That’s what brought her to Washington to tell her story...    HPIM1567-compressedWhile Gerry Johnston’s story is different in many ways—as a 69 year old widow who had to leave retirement and go back to work just to make ends meet—she shares Esther’s concern about what will happen to her and millions of other seniors during these economic hard times. Budget woes have certainly focused Washington’s attention on the dollars and cents of issues, like health care reform, but it’s personal stories like Gerry’s that can be lost in the debate.   Gerry came to the Capitol to urge Congress to pass health care reform.  As a Medicare recipient and Part D doughnut hole victim, she understands how important system-wide health care reform is to the Medicare program.     Two women...two stories...about two vital American programs.  They provided Congress with just a snapshot of the issues, which must be considered beyond the budgetary bottom line.