Wyden meets with C. Oregonians worried by Trump budget plan

Stories of hardship shared at Bend meeting

Locals voice budget plan concerns

BEND, Ore. - Many people are worried about how budget cuts proposed by President Trump would affect them.

Several agencies and worried residents met with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on Tuesday to ask questions and share concerns. 

Several stories of hardship were shared during the discussion, including that of a man whose medication costs $300,000 a year and a woman who spent five years living in her car with her son.

They attended to present arguments against the controversial budget plan proposed by the Trump administration.

If the budget plan is passed, large cuts would be made to social services and health programs, including a $627 billion cut to Medicaid and a $194 billion cut to food stamps.

This is a major concern for some Central Oregon residents, including Leif Bamberg, who said, "I have cystic fibrosis. I'm on full-time disability, despite having two degrees in biochemistry and biology, and I've been on disability since I was 12."

He said his fear of losing Medicaid is so intense that he keeps a six-month stockpile of medication ready, in case his coverage disappears.

Wyden said he finds this appalling.

"In a country as rich and good and strong as ours, people with cystic fibrosis have got to think about setting up some sort of reserve for the day that they won't have health care." Wyden said. 

Alexandra Sweet told Wyden she worries about what will happen to her son if she doesn't get her medicine.

"I'm not afraid to die. I'm afraid to leave a child behind with questions, who is going to become very angry with society that we've left him behind. And we didn't have to do that. It was a choice we made." Sweet said. 

One issue Wyden said he hopes to dispel in Congress is the assumption Medicaid recipients never get off the programs.

"Two out of three people on Medicaid are working," the senator said. "There is somehow this notion that the people on Medicaid are sort of sitting around and loafing, and that sort of thing. They're working. They're on an economic tightrope, and I'm not sure a lot of members of Congress have gotten that message."

We tried to contact Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., who played a major role in repealing the Affordable Care Act, but had not heard back by our program.

Earlier this month however, Walden released a statement calling for the need to improve the integrity of Medicaid services in Oregon. 

Other issues discussed in the meeting with Wyden included Pell grants for college students, domestic violence shelters, affordable housing and education.

Congress does not have to adopt all or any of the president's proposed budget, but it gives them an idea of where his priorities lie.

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