Commentary: Quick Send Medicare To The E.R.

Social Security checks provide a nice retirement cushion for Justin Kawaler, the former owner of four furniture stores in Queens, N.Y. But Kawaler's government checks didn't even begin to cover the enormous medical bills incurred by his 74-year-old wife, Evelyn, who underwent an operation for cancer in 1990, followed by two years of expensive follow-up procedures. Medicare picked up the tab. "Everybody I talk to in the waiting rooms says that without Medicare, they'd go completely broke," says Kawaler.

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