As a life-long advocate for older Americans, I must take issue with John Wills’ claim that Medicare needs ‘saving’ from proposals to enhance seniors’ benefits (Save Medicare from ‘Build Back Better’ threat, 12/5/21). His party, the GOP, was against Medicare from its inception. They called it “Socialism.” Yet, more than five decades later, Medicare has provided the only affordable, quality health care to generations of American seniors. But Medicare isn’t complete. It has never included basic hearing, vision, or dental coverage – even though these are the gateways to better health. It’s absurd for Wills to laud the creator of Medicare, President Lyndon B. Johnson, by quoting his words upon enactment of the program, and then suggest that adding these crucial coverages is “Socialism.” If Mr. Wills does care about Iowa seniors’ overall health, he should not wish to deny them vision, hearing and dental care, which many forgo because of high out-of-pocket costs. In truth, President Biden’s Build Back Better plan will help older Iowans by providing them with hearing care coverage as a first step in expanding their Medicare benefits – and by allowing the program to negotiate prescription drug prices with Big Pharma. In poll after poll, large majorities of the public across party lines support both policies. Iowa seniors deserve better than distracting arguments about “Socialism” that camouflage conservatives’ true intentions: to privatize, means-test, and undermine the Medicare program.

Max Richtman

President & CEO
National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
Washington, D.C.