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WHAT I REALLY KNOW
By Linda McCue, Mesa, Ariz.
hile Granddad earned their living,
Grandma raised eight children and rarely
had pocket money. When Social Security
started sending each of my grandparents
a check, Grandma started keeping her own
finances even though she wasn’t prepared to
handle her cash flow. This started a division
between my grandparents, but it was the
argument over whether Grandma had paid
Granddad back for the prescription medicine
he had picked up for her that really split them
apart. Granddad was so angry that he threw
the drugs away. All communication between
them ceased. A dread silence loomed over
the household for months.
That Christmas, their eight adult children
decided to buy them a television set. Theirs
was the last household in our little village of
Ray, Ill., to get a TV. The shiny box sat on a
little stand atop one of Grandma’s doilies,
waiting to perform magic.
Grandma and Granddad had to spend time
together in front of that TV in the evenings.
They had to work together to see that the
rabbit ears were at just the right angle to
get the best reception. They had to make
sure the volume was set so both could hear
properly. They would laugh together at the
At breakfast, they began talking about
what they saw the night
before. Slowly, they were
I still believe that my
grandparents would nev-
er have resumed talking if
television hadn’t brought
them back together.
Health Reform: Make It Real and Right
By Michael O. Leavitt
Tell us what you really know about
E-mail your true essay of up to 400 words to whati-
email@example.com. Or mail it to “What I Really Know,” AARP
Bulletin, 601 E St. N. W., Washington, DC 20049. Volume of
submissions prevents us from answering all letters.
hen I was a teenager, there was a farmer down the road from my grandfather who always seemed
to have more land than he could afford and
a new John Deere trac-
tor. Knowing a little
about the economic
realities that our fam-
ily farm faced, I asked,
“Grandpa, how can he
My grandfather re-
plied, “Mike, if we stick
with what is real and
right, we will be farm-
ing long after he’s been
That’s exactly what
happened. A few years
later, our neighbor and
his tractor were out of
business, and we were still farming.
Real and right—it’s a principle we teach our
children. It’s also the principle that should
guide our health care reform efforts.
President Obama and congressional leaders
keep saying that their health care legislation
won’t increase the deficit. That doesn’t ap-
pear to be either real or right.
According to the Congressional Budget Of-
fice, the $1.2 trillion House health bill would
raise taxes by $500 billion and raise deficits
by at least $608 billion from 2015 to 2024.
In addition to tax increases, all of this new
spending would be funded by reducing the
growth in Medicare by $600 billion. Propo-
nents say that this would have no effect on the
services received by people who depend on
Medicare. Again, this isn’t real or right.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer went
further, claiming that the House health bill
wouldn’t raise taxes or deficits, regardless of
what the CBO says. Rather, he said, it would
be paid for with “savings” from Medicare.
In trying to squeeze budget savings from
Medicare, Congress will do what it always
has done: It will reduce the rates that Medi-
care pays to doctors and hospitals. The re-
sult will be fewer doctors taking Medicare
patients. Hospitals will give preference to
private-insurance patients who pay more.
Michael O. Leavitt
was U.S. secretary of
Health and Human Services from 2005 to 2009.
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