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Yesterday marked the 47th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson signing Medicare into law. A group of seniors organized by the labor group American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees used the date to issue a plea to Rep. Brian Bilbray to take action in preserving the program.

Several individuals addressed a small contingent of onlookers at the Mira Mesa Senior Center, while others displayed signs addressed to Bilbray with messages such as “Don’t let me die so you can enjoy your tax break!” and “Medicare works for California, who do you work for?”

Virgil Harris, spoke of his unease regarding potential Medicare and Medicaid funding cuts, adding that in addition to his benefit he has two special-needs children who receive assistance under the programs. “They have been able to live a decent life because of these benefits, and I regret the threat of having [them] taken away. It is my hope that Mr. Bilbray will think about people that need these benefits. We work hard for them.”

Nancy Gomez, director of Health Access California, also spoke, referring to Medicare legislation as “a law that represents the best of American values.” Her tone toward Congress was less reverential.

“This may be the last year that we are able to celebrate these programs, because they are under attack by politicians who simply have their priorities upside down,” Gomez said, noting 15 million Californians benefit in some way from Medicare and Medicaid.

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