Cost of Living Increase Is Death Sentence

By: Brian Johnson Email
By: Brian Johnson Email

"Give me my medications. Because I can live on that, I can't live on a $21 [cost of living increase]," said Frank Kutas with tears in his eyes.

Kutas is 77-years-old and on Medicare and Social Security. He lives with his son Jim, who is his primary caregiver. Together they both live on fixed incomes in an apartment building in west Lansing. They have plastic over their windows to save money on their heating bill.

"Why in America can't people get their medications they need to keep them alive?" said Jim Kutas, Frank's son and caregiver.

Last year it cost the Kutas family about $10 a month for Frank's prescriptions. However he recently got a cost-of-living increase from Social Security that disqualifies him for his previous medical coverage.

"So instead of $10, now he is looking at $2,100. That's more than he gets for his Social Security check," said Jim.

Frank gets about $1,500 a month from Social Security. He has no way to pay for the medications he needs to stay alive.

"The bottom line, if I can't get it--if I can't afford it, then I can't take it," said Frank. "If I can't take it, the end result is I'll pass away," said Frank as tears streamed down his face.

It's a death sentence.

He is already overdue to take one of his essential medications, but simply doesn't have the money.

"Without that medication in the next couple days he is going to drop off. He is going to be in the emergency room," said Jim.

Jo Murphy works for a non-profit called the Michigan Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program. MMAP helps find solutions when people have problems with Medicare.

Murphy said in Michigan there are about 6.5 million Medicare beneficiaries.

When she heard their situation, she came with WILX News Ten to meet the Kutas family.

While there's no way of knowing exactly how many people have similar issues as the Kutas family, her organization helped about 70,000 people last year. Frank Kutas will be one of them this year.

"I look forward to working with Jim and Frank. Hopefully we can get a good resolution for their problem," said Jo Murphy the MMAP Executive Director.

Even with Murphy is working to fix the problem, Frank is not in the clear yet. Murphy said the error could be happening at one of three different places/agencies and it will take about three business days to fix. That could be five calendar days till the problem is resolved and Frank needs his medication as of yesterday.

Murphy said if the letters from Medicare and Social Security to Frank Kutas are correct, and he does not qualify for his old program, he may have to look for some other option.

People with similar problems can reach MMAP toll free at 1-800-803-7174 or visit www.mmapinc.org.


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