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.