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Speaker Tillis and GOP join to stop Ms. Colbert of Wilmington from getting new eyeglasses

Last week in Wilmington I met a friendly, outspoken older woman named Sylvia Colbert.  Ms. Colbert is very active in her community and gets her health care through both the federal Medicare program and NC’s Medicaid program.  As an older adult with a very low income, she qualifies for NC Medicaid as a “dual eligible”, or someone for whom we fill in the very large coverage gaps in the Medicare program with state Medicaid coverage.

One thing Ms. Colbert told our group about was her critical need for increasingly stronger eyeglasses.  She has a fairly serious medical condition where one of her eyes continues to get weaker and she really needs a new pair of basic eyeglasses to be able to see.

Unfortunately, NC Speaker Thom Tillis and the GOP-led NC General Assembly cut the NC Medicaid budget by $350 million this year.  One of the first things to go was eyeglasses for older adults in NC’s Medicaid program.  This includes the eyeglasses desperately needed by Ms. Colbert, who was told by her eye care provider that all the money had been eliminated so she could no longer get new glasses.

It may be easy to comfortably sit up here in Raleigh and pass a budget that takes away eyeglasses from women like Ms. Colbert.  But I wish Speaker Tillis and every GOP member in Raleigh would have to look Ms. Colbert in the eye and explain to her why she isn’t going to be able to see very well any more.

2 Comments


  1. Jean Bystry

    November 8, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    I an retired and on a very fixed income, but the first thing I pay every month is my health insurance. I do not have medicaid. I need new glasses also but guess what–I will save the money somehow to buy them–I do not expect my neighbors to pay for them! I cut back and cut back and cut back.. It was the way I was raised.

  2. Adam Searing

    November 9, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Admirable, but what if, like Ms. Colbert, you needed a very, very expensive pair of eyeglasses again and again and again – and you would effectively go blind if you didn’t get them? So, you don’t eat so you can see? That’s not my North Carolina. In my North Carolina, we join together so that those who can’t afford basic health care are able to be taken care of.

    And, by the way, I’ll bet you get Medicare! If so, we are all contributing to you health coverage and I, for one, am happy to do so because I’ll need Medicare too one day.

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