Michigan seniors worry Trump will target their Social Security and Medicare

seniors

By Kyle Kaminski

June 11, 2024

Michigan seniors are urging voters to re-elect President Joe Biden this year—or else risk taking cuts to healthcare and Social Security benefits under ex-President Donald Trump.

MICHIGAN—Linda Michaels Gruber doesn’t care that President Joe Biden is in his 80s.

As the chairwoman for the Michigan Democratic Party’s Senior Caucus, which advocates for the needs of more than 2 million Michiganders over age 60, she said it’s not necessarily a problem that Biden walks a bit slowly or sometimes uses the shorter staircase to board Air Force One.

Her focus, instead, is on electing a president who is willing to stand up for the issues that matter most to Michigan seniors—like expanding access to affordable healthcare and protecting Social Security benefits. And this year, there’s only one option in the presidential election, she said.

“Biden and Kamala Harris have been champions for Michigan seniors in the White House, fighting for historic measures to lower health care costs,” Michaels Gruber told The ‘Gander. “He understands that we depend on our hard-earned Social Security checks and Medicare benefits.”

Michaels Gruber, state Rep. Stephanie Young (D-Detroit), and about a dozen Lansing-area seniors met for a press conference in Lansing on Tuesday to launch the Michigan Seniors for Biden campaign, the first in a three-day statewide tour to rally support for Biden’s re-election.

Their remarks focused largely on the contrast between the Biden administration’s work to protect seniors—including by signing legislation to cap the cost of prescription drugs—and ex-President Donald Trump’s willingness to cut both Social Security and Medicare benefits.

“[Biden] brings the experience. He brings the ability. He has outperformed,” Michaels Gruber said. “Sometimes, I really think the media is fearful of age. We all walk a little slow and we’re very careful on steps. We know because we’ve still got 20 or 30 more years left to go.”

‘Medicine We Need’

More than 2 million seniors in Michigan currently rely on Social Security and Medicare to afford housing, utility bills, groceries, and life-saving prescription medications, among other things.

Trump has previously supported raising the retirement age and privatizing Social Security, which he once described as a “Ponzi scheme.” He also proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare every year he was in office, and again this year suggested that he would be open to further cuts.

In contrast, Biden has pledged to continue protecting both programs to ensure those benefits are available for seniors when they retire. His latest budget also includes detailed plans to shield both programs from future cuts—as well as boost Medicare funding by raising taxes on the wealthy and expanding the government’s ability to negotiate for lower prescription drug costs.

Lansing-area senior Maria Enriquez also touted Biden’s record of helping lower healthcare and prescription drug costs for seniors speaks for itself.

“Thanks to Joe Biden, I no longer have to spend over $2,000 a year on life-saving prescription drugs,” Enriquez explained. “He fought Big Pharma and has delivered huge savings for Medicare recipients like me. It’s very difficult, as you all know, with expensive drugs on the rise. And Joe Biden has made it possible for us to continue getting our medicine as we need it.”

When Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, it established a cap on Medicare recipients’ out-of-pocket drug costs to just $2,000 per year, which goes into effect next year. The law also implemented a $35 monthly cap on insulin for Medicare recipients—saving an estimated 67,000 Michigan seniors about $400 a year.

“That might not sound like a lot for some people, but for seniors, $35 is quite a bit of money—especially if you’re on a fixed income,” Enriquez said. “I can’t overstate how much the cost savings benefits mean to me. When people ask if I’m better off under Joe Biden, I can always say absolutely. And that’s not just me; that’s everybody else on Medicare and Medicaid.”

Biden’s American Rescue Plan also played a major role in lowering insulin costs for diabetics, namely by penalizing pharmaceutical companies that priced their drugs above the rate of inflation.

This prompted the nation’s three major insulin makers to drop their prices for the life-saving drug. Eli Lilly, Sanofi, and Novo Nordisk—which make up roughly 90% of the market—all began offering price caps and savings programs in January to lower the cost of some of their most widely-used insulin products to only $35 per month.

In Michigan, about 12% of the adult population has diagnosed diabetes, meaning hundreds of thousands of Michiganders could potentially benefit from lower insulin costs.

‘No Kind Words for the Other Guy’

Michaels Gruber said many news outlets tend to focus more on Biden’s age rather than the meaningful impact of the federal legislation that he has signed since he took office. But his efforts to lower healthcare costs and protect retirement benefits isn’t lost on Michigan seniors.

“President Biden is 81 years old—and proud of it. He does not shy away from the fact, and we don’t either. We embrace it,” Michaels Gruber said. “The president is kind, thoughtful, experienced, and bright. He has the character and values that you want in a president. He knows the constitution and lives by the Constitution. There are no kind words for the other guy.”

A recent Quinnipiac University poll shows Biden leading Trump by an eight-point margin with Americans over the age of 65—53% to 45%, but seniors like Enriquez are hoping that their efforts will help spread the word about Biden’s record of delivering for seniors and spread awareness of Trump’s threats to programs they care about.

“Trump just doesn’t care about these programs that we’ve spent years and years paying into. He wants to stop them,” Enriquez said. “He only wants to make sure that the rich get richer. He has always served the millionaire and billionaire class over hard-working Michiganders.”

Young added: “If Trump and MAGA Republicans get their way, Michiganders will struggle to afford medications, keep roofs over their heads, and potentially even worse. … Biden and Michigan Democrats care about protecting these hard-earned benefits for an entire generation.”

Other upcoming Michigan Seniors for Biden-Harris campaign launch events are also scheduled this week on Wednesday and Thursday in Grand Rapids and Traverse City, respectively.

READ MORE: Michigan seniors blast Trump’s plan to cut Social Security and Medicare

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Follow Political Correspondent Kyle Kaminski here.

Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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