RIO VISTA Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield), California's Insurance Commissioner for eight years, hosted town halls at the Trilogy and McBride senior centers in Rio Vista and Vacaville respectively.
Roughly 140 people, mostly seniors, attended the events. Service providers from Medicare, Meals-on-Wheels, the Contra Costa and Solano Food Bank, the Federal Trade Commission, and other agencies were on hand to help seniors.
The Congressman explained his resolve to preserve retirement security with the simple statement, "Hands off Social Security and Medicare benefits." He also relayed the memory of watching his elderly neighbor get sick without health coverage.
"I remember the days before Medicare, when my elderly neighbor was shipped off to a county hospital to die. We're not going to go back to those days. We're not going back. Not on my watch," he said.
"I can tell you: the insurance companies don't want to insure seniors," Garamendi said. "There's a reason: you're expensive. We're expensive. Seniors are expensive. For insurers, it's not about providing medical care. It's about profit."
Garamendi also explained why he opposes shifting Social Security's annual Cost-Of-Living-Adjustment (COLA) from a traditional Consumer Price Index (CPI) measurement of inflation to a stingier Chained-CPI.
"Some people in Washington, some people on both sides of the aisle, are advocating a benefits cut by another name. I won't go there," he said. "Millions of seniors
live on the margins, and Social Security is running on a $2.7 trillion dollar surplus. Social Security in 2013 is not part of the deficit debate, and I will not vote to balance the budget on the backs of seniors."
While the plurality of questions focused on Medicare and Social Security, questions related to Make It In America strategies, tax policy, college affordability, the Affordable Care Act, and benefits for federal workers were also asked over the course of three hours.