An Indiana congressman told Clay County residents Thursday the only way to completely solve problems surrounding government healthcare programs is to decrease the overall cost of healthcare.
Indiana Republican Larry Bucshon (8th District) spoke to community members at the Clay County Senior Center, 120 S. Franklin St., Brazil.
During Bucshon's visit, a small number of residents voiced their opinions and concerns, including former Times' publisher Joe Redenbarger.
"I think the thing that frustrates the average citizen is that we don't see any hope there will be any change," Redenbarger said.
Redenbarger added he's upset when he sees others order medical supplies and equipment on taxpayer dollars who don't absolutely need what they are ordering.
One example Redenbarger discussed is when people who are overweight who use hoverrounds instead of staying mobile, getting healthier and losing the access weight.
"I agree with you. People who truly deserve the help can't get it," Bucshon responded. "Until there are people who say I'm not going to order a hoverround because I don't need one, and it will increase prices for others, the problem will continue."
Buschon added he understands the great need for change and cites this understanding as the reason why he ran for office.
According to Bucshon, there is a great need for more young people to enter the medical field to become nurses and doctors.
He said many young people are choosing other career fields. After doing a cost/benefit analysis, they consider the amount of time and money it takes to become a doctor, and they decide against it.
In addition, Bucshon said many nurses don't receive the technical training they need during college to be prepared to enter the work force.
"We need technically trained people who have the skills to get the job done," Bucshon said. "People have four-year degrees, but don't have the technical training and knowledge to work independently."
Another issue Bucshon discussed is the lack of primary care physicians available.
"It's much more beneficial for a doctor just out of training to join a hospital staff than to open his own practice," he explained. "When you work for a hospital, you can negotiate a salary."
Meanwhile, Bucshon reassured seniors in attendance neither party wants to take Medicare away from current seniors 55 and over.
"This will not happen. No one is going to take Medicare away from you," Bucshon said. "However, the Medicare system works like a trust fund or a savings account, and it's been paying out 35 billion dollars more than what's paid in every year. By 2024, the Medicare fund will be at a zero balance."
Currently, less than 45 percent of Americans receive Medicare.
Bucshon said by 2030, it is expected that 70-75 percent of Americans will be seniors.
He added something must be done, and government officials need to formulate a proactive solution.
"People depend heavily on Medicare," Bucshon told those in attendance. "Anyone who says to do nothing at all doesn't realize what it will do to American citizens."
Bucshon said he is against raising taxes to solve these problems, and referenced a quote from former President Kennedy about how lowering marginal tax rates to improve the economy and government spending.
"I am concerned most about economic growth and getting people back to work, not raising taxes," Bucshon said. "People with higher incomes who want to receive Medicare benefits should have to pay more than people with lower incomes."
Bucshon said other politicians have suggested raising Medicare taxes, insurance co-pays or rising the retirement age from 65 to 67, but Bucshon disagrees with these ideas.