Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Would Ryan's Plan Really Kill Medicare Or Not?


Republican strategists and propagandists get crazy whenever anyone points out that the Ryan budget-- voted for by nearly every Republican in Congress-- ends Medicare. Ryan was careful to call the inadequate, costly voucher system he would have set up in its place "Medicare." But is it Medicare? Does Ryan's draconian and dystopian budget kill Medicare or not? With just over 3 weeks left before voters in Wisconsin's first congressional district decide whether or not to replace Ryan with Rob Zerban, Blue America has deployed dozens of newspaper ads like the one below and 8 billboards across the district like the one up top, letting voters know that Ryan wants to do what rightists have always wanted to do for their Wall Street paymasters: end Medicare.

Ryan and other Republicans are insisting their plan doesn't kill Medicare (because, after all... they still call their hot mess of as plan by the same name). And when Rob Zerban released the ad below, they went berserk trying to get it pulled off TV as false. But it's still running. And Rob, obviously, is standing by his assertion that the Ryan plan ends Medicare-- and both media outlets and independent economists agree that Ryan’s budget would voucherize Medicare, costing seniors an extra $6,500 per year-- fundamentally ending the program’s promise to cover healthcare costs for seniors and gradually phase out the whole system.

Clearly, Ryan’s plan would undermine Medicare by leading richer and healthier seniors to abandon traditional Medicare in favor of private health care plans-- leaving Medicare with poorer and sicker beneficiaries. This would increase Medicare’s costs, which would inevitably force Medicare to raise premiums, or slash services. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Ryan “plan also would likely lead to the gradual demise of traditional Medicare by making its pool of beneficiaries smaller, older, and sicker-- and increasingly costly to cover.”

  Yet a new TV ad released today by the Ryan campaign claims the Ryan budget “protect[s] and strengthen[s]” Medicare, and “empowers future seniors.” It's another example of why Ryan got the nickname Lyin' Ryan.

  “We don’t say anything we don’t mean-- Paul Ryan’s budget ends Medicare,” said Rob Zerban. “Call it premium support, CouponCare, or a voucher system, but the bottom line is Ryan’s budget forces seniors to pay thousands of dollars in extra healthcare costs now, while leading Medicare towards financial ruin in the long-term. If the fact-checkers should investigate anything, it’s Paul Ryan’s bold-faced lie that his plan strengthens Medicare and empowers seniors-- when scores of news outlets, think tanks, and independent economists agree it does just the opposite.”

Krugman weighed in on this in June of 2011. “[T]he fact is that Republicans are trying to end Medicare. The program we now call Medicare is one in which the government acts as your insurer, paying your major medical bills; coverage is guaranteed to all seniors. The program Republicans want gives you vouchers and tells you to go buy your own insurance, if you can. That’s not at all the same thing.” And it wasn't just Krugman. The Wall Street Journal, which wants to send Medicare, agreed that that is what Ryan is trying to accomplish: “The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills.”

A little over a year later, 2 months ago, Bloomberg News was saying agreeing that Ryan's plan kills Medicare, even if he keeps the name. “Ryan’s budget bill also would end traditional Medicare by capping spending and offer vouchers to buy private insurance.” And the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained it in slightly greater detail:
The higher premiums would lead more of Medicare’s healthier enrollees to abandon it for private plans, very possibly setting off a spiral of rising premium costs and falling enrollment for traditional Medicare. Over time, traditional Medicare would become less financially viable and could unravel-- not because it was less efficient than the private plans, but because it was competing on an unlevel playing field in which private plans captured the healthier beneficiaries and incurred lower costs as a result. Ryan also would allow private plans to tailor their benefit packages to attract healthier beneficiaries and deter sicker ones, which only makes this outcome more likely.
Iowa Senator Tom Harkin explained it to voters in his state: “When Mitt Romney named Congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate, he reminded Iowans of the choice we face in this election. One of the proposals in the extreme House Republican budget that Congressman Ryan crafted is its plan to end Medicare as we know it.” So, Rob is standing by his ad-- and Blue America is standing by our ads as well. Here's where you can help both Rob and Blue America Stop Paul Ryan. We have to do it for future generations.

And, yes, of course, Mitt Romney is just as bad. Not only has he bought into the Ryan plan, he has his own unambiguous record of disinterest in the struggles of middle class families. While he was governor of Massachusetts he raised the costs on nursing homes 8 times, no big deal for your garden variety financial predator... but devastating for normal people who work for a living. We need to defeat Ryan in his congressional district and watch Obama and Biden defeat him on a national level when they pulverize Romney in 4 weeks.

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At 11:14 AM, Blogger John said...

"Would Ryan's Plan Really Kill Medicare Or Not?"

I expect Joe Biden will make the definitive statement on that in the VP debate tomorrow, no?

John Puma


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