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The experiences of a year ago are still with me. I can remember, all too vividly, being faced with the prospect of losing everything--house, job, savings--everything when my husband was so ill.

There is little or no safety net for the middle class. In order to qualify for Medical, one must be practically indigent. No savings over $2000. No jewelry (except wedding rings) worth more than $100. Your house is not taken away (you can live in it), but a lien is put on it. Income (including social security) is subject to seizure above a certain amount.

In other words, for the safety net to catch you, you have to be practically indigent. And the safety net provides only the most minimal of care or services, while you remain in poverty. There is no way out, because every way out is liable either to lose benefits or have anything extra claimed by Medical to reimburse expenses.

The middle class truly is at risk, and I never realized it before until I was faced with losing nearly everything I have worked all my life to provide for my old age. I no longer feel so confident that everything will be OK.

Maybe if Congresspersons faced the same level of risk, they would be more aware of the realities. Let them have their future in the hands of social security, Medicare, and have their pensions subject to lien.

And while I'm on the subject of Congresspersons and their benefits, they could have their pay pegged to the Cost of Living index--or the same number of pay raises I've had in the last 8 years, i.e., zero.

Put Congresspersons on Medicare, not their own private medical benefits. And I suppose, while we're at it, we could demand that the law apply equally to Congresspersons as it does to the general public.

Maybe then they would understand what it's like to be us. And perhaps their decisions would be more reality-based than they are at present.

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