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

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  • by Tiffany on Feb 8, 2013 at 08:32 PM might be able to help.
  • by Name Location: Location on Feb 8, 2013 at 06:09 AM
    The irony is Leroy is correct. The hypocrisy is Obamacare does nothing to correct it!?!?!? 51% of the uninformed!!!
  • by Mary Anne Location: Haslett on Feb 6, 2013 at 05:38 PM
    Since when is juvenile diabetes a lifestyle choice? Since when are cardiac impairments life style choices? They can be heritary...have you ever heard of runners getting heart attacks? Since when is lung cancer a life style choice? Didn't Christopher Reeves' wife Diana die of lung cancer? She didn't smoke and was skinny. You are very misinformed and you'd better damn well hope that you never get sick. Maybe then it will be your turn to have the plug pulled on you.
  • by Leroy Location: Okemos on Feb 5, 2013 at 06:11 AM
    The harsh reality is that our society has too many people living on handfuls of pills everyday. I always find it funny that the same people that complain about healthcare costs are those that are the ones driving it up. Maybe if we would let nature run it's coarse we would not have some many people living off the system and costs all the way around would come down. You can't eat yourself into obesity,call the scooter store and get an isurance paid hoveround and them complain insurance cost too much.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 5, 2013 at 03:31 AM
    Obama only wants to kill off those people who can get out of the poverty mentality.
  • by Liz Location: Ann Arbor on Feb 4, 2013 at 06:50 PM
    "There but for the Grace..." Surely we won't all have to rely on the Government; some of us have wealth, some have families. Fate is a fickle mistress at best. Perhaps had we all made better choices when selecting our parents?
  • by Jonathan Location: Lansing on Feb 4, 2013 at 09:45 AM
    I hope that anyone who thinks this is unfair was smart enough NOT to vote for Obama last November. Our nation is going to see more instances of this tragic situation occur as more and more people rely on big government to take care of them.
  • by V Location: GL on Feb 4, 2013 at 07:22 AM
    To Sarah: My wife has a "cardiac impairment" that she was born with. Turns out it is hereditary. That was her choice though? I just had a niece pass away from brain cancer. She never smoked, drank, or did drugs. She was only 17. But that was her choice right? All of those infants and toddlers that pack the floors of MOTT'S and CHOP must have really made some horrible choices. Judging by your overwhelming knowledge of diseases, you must be a health care professional? Perhaps published in the N.E. Journal of Medicine? So, by your logic, the single mom without insurance that is driving to one of her three jobs gets in a car accident. We shouldn't help her out because she made the choice to have that job and get in the car that day? I remain amazed by how cold and ignorant some people can be.
  • by John Location: Lansing on Feb 3, 2013 at 06:38 PM
    Wow. We’re a big country; this case can’t be unique. The lawmakers and administration heads couldn’t have had this in mind. It’s killing our people. It’s got to be a mistake. I waited all day for the live news feeds to show SOMEONE saying now they are aware of the problem; they apologize; pharmacies are being instructed to dispense prescribed medications. It never came. This is how our “Government” is looking after the best interests of its people. Somehow I do not feel the love.
  • by Elaine Location: Location on Feb 3, 2013 at 09:20 AM
    What is wrong with our system when a man needs life sustaining medication and because he now gets $21 more a month he no longer can get the medication at a reduced price. What will happen is when he gets bad enough he will be able to go to the ER and will be taken care of at the taxpayers expense and he will be more compromised with a more difficult recovery when the right thing to do would be allow him to have the medication so he doesn't have to go through the emotional and physical trauma resulting from the lack of medication.
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