Supercommittee hears from Medicare patients

Advocates are making sure that lawmakers on the deficit-cutting supercommittee hear directly from patients on Medicare and the doctors who care for them as they prepare to shave $1.5 trillion off the federal deficit.

The Medicare Rights Center wrote to supercommittee members ahead of its first substantive meeting Tuesday urging them to "seek out, and listen carefully to, the voices of people with Medicare — not just to those of economists, policymakers and health care experts — as you deliberate over proposals that would alter Medicare."

Attached is a report, "Medicare Voices," featuring patients and providers from across the nation answering the simple question, "what do you like about Medicare?"

"We understand the pressure to focus on the numbers and the fiscal impact of your work," the letter states, "but through our work directly with Medicare beneficiaries, we see first hand the struggles that this population and their caregivers, including their families and friends, face as their health care needs grow."

The letter points out that people on Medicare already spend an average of 15 percent of their income on healthcare, and urges lawmakers to avoid any cuts that would shift the burden from the government onto patients.