Cost of Living Adjustments Halted for Senior Citizens

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- In the woods off Highway 158 in Midland County, John Perry, 73, stretches every dollar he receives in Social Security payments each month.

"I don't smoke and I don't drink, people say you should be rich, but no, that's not true." Perry said he worked on a ranch in New Mexico until his heart gave out, three years ago, and congenital heart failure comes with it's costs. Perry said he had two open heart surgeries and takes five medications regularly.

"I don't want it to sound like I am playing a violin," Perry said sitting near his tent. "I am 73 and I am still waking up in the morning, you know ain't that great."

Perry said Medicaid covered the bulk of his medical costs but the senior citizen pays his premiums with what he receives from the Social Security Administration.

Like many seniors, Perry worries about how he's going to cover his expenses next year, without the annual increase known as COLA or cost of living adjustments. According to the Associated Press, the annual cost of living adjustments are pegged to keep up with inflation and were adopted in 1975. While COLA's are not expected over the next few years, some say medical expenses and premiums are expected rise.

"I mean every year, everything goes up and up and up." Pasty Gilly, who's on disability, said. Gilly also says health care costs make it difficult for seniors like herself to get by without the cost of living adjustments.

Permian Prompt Care's Dr. Richard Bartlett said there is a concern for seniors who pay for health care premiums.

"I have diabetes, high blood pressure, and it's really tough. We make it month by month," Bobby Hodges, 65, who lives on Social Security told NewsWest 9.

Dr. Bartlett said his challenge is working with patients to offer samples or generic brands to make sure they're taking their medications.

"Many times they're on a fixed income, yet medications continue to rise, hospital bills continue to increase," he said. "If someone has a problem like diabetes, they're going to be on multiple medicines, my challenge as a family doctor is to make sure they can connect the dots. That's getting harder and harder."