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Debt Deal Could Spell Doomsday For Many In New York City Area

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The debt deal is no deal at all for many of the most vulnerable residents in the Tri-State Area.

They may face long-term pain, reports CBS 2's Marcia Kramer.

At an exercise class at Catholic Charities' Saint Louis Senior Center in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the concern of many is about stretching meager incomes if threatened cuts to Medicare go through as part of the deficit reduction deal.

"I am worried about it, sick, worried to death about it," resident Edris Thomas said.

"I'm afraid of when they cut the Medicare, they cut the medicine. I can't afford to pay because my income is too low," Lucy Mae Francis added.

"We have nobody to stand up for us. They say we should consider the poor, but who is considering the poor? Nobody," Bob Esteban said.

Medicare will be on the chopping block when Washington lawmakers decide how to cut $1.5 trillion in spending, which experts say could mean more hospital closings in our area. This is on top of the recent closings of two hospitals, including St. Vincent's in Greenwich Village and the possible closing of Peninsula Hospital in Far Rockaway.

"Worst case is we're going to close another set of hospitals," said Ken Raske, president of Greater New York Hospital Association.

Raske said the poor would be hardest hit and unable to get care.

"We are particularly worried about vulnerable communities people that live in very impoverished areas," Raske said.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority could also be hit -- big time. It's counting on $4.2 billion in federal funds for its capital program. Sources say funds for new train cars and buses as well maintenance and rehabilitation of tracks, tunnels, stations and train cars could be on the chopping block.

"Look, let's be candid. New York is always vulnerable to cuts. There are always people from other states who try to hurt us," Sen. Charles Schumer said.

You can add cuts to federal funds for New York City and SUNY systems, as well as a rise in unemployment to the list of growing concerns.

Kramer asked Congressman Charles Rangel what could happen if New York City's anti-terrorism funding is slashed. His answer?

"Boom," Rangel said.

The comment from Rep. Rangel was light-hearted, but there is nothing lighthearted about concerns reaching all the way up to President Barack Obama about what's next.

"It was a long and contentious debate," the president said.

"There are new Republicans. They are new; they're not seasoned. They never held public office. They're ready to die for what they believe in and their hard feelings for Obama is their primary objective above the security of the country," Rep. Rangel said.

"There are always attempts to cut Homeland Security money from other states who don't want New York to get it," Sen. Schumer added.

Are you concerned? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

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