MOUNT VERNON — Joyce Healy-Abrams, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from the newly-drawn 7th Congressional District, officially opened her campaign office in Canton on Thursday, and she wasted no time getting acquainted with potential constituents from Knox County.
The Stark County businesswoman, who will face incumbent Republican Bob Gibbs in November’s general election, held a round-table discussion at Sips early Saturday afternoon and then attended a reception at the home of Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis.
The main topic of the casual round-table session was Medicare, but Healy-Abrams and a group of her area supporters had a lively and wide-ranging discussion. She said that her meetings with voters so far in the campaign have identified two main concerns. “Jobs are the No. 1 issue for people, and the second is balancing the budget,” she said. “We have huge debt, and people are concerned how it can affect other parts of their life like Medicare and Social Security.”
Healy-Abrams discussed the budget proposal from Congressman Paul Ryan (Rep.-Wis.) which has been passed in the House, and said “I am absolutely opposed to it because of what it would do to Medicare. They essentially want to give senior citizens a voucher for $6,500 to buy private medical insurance. But there is no provision for the vouchers to keep pace with cost increases, and seniors would have to pick up the difference.
“The program would be phased in over 10 years, so it would affect anyone who is 55 or younger today. But people have been paying into Medicare and Social Security their entire lives, and those programs have greatly reduced poverty among seniors. We have to keep these guarantees in place. There has to be a better way.”
“My wife was sick for 10 years,” one man said, “and Medicare saved us. I’m scared to death by what Republicans are saying.”