Not Your Guns – They're Coming for Your Medicare

Bruce Maples (bruceinlouisville@gmail.com)
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All those years, you thought Obama was coming for your guns. Haha – fooled you! But now, with Repubs in charge of everything and Paul Ryan calling the shots, guess what they’re coming for? Your Medicare coverage!

For years and years, Paul Ryan has pushed for the privatization of Medicare. It’s in his “Better Way” plan, and he has talked about it repeatedly. Now it’s more than talk.

Here’s the comparison:

Traditional Medicare Republican “Medicare”
  • Paid into by employers and employees
  • Government sets limits on cost of care by providers
  • Government pays providers directly
  • All Medicare participants receive the same benefits
  • Overhead costs of approx. 2%
  • Funded by ?
  • Citizens receive vouchers to buy insurance directly
  • Insurance plans can charge whatever they want, and include whatever they want
  • Vouchers may be distributed through block grants to the states, who can decide what to do with the money and how to distribute it
  • No controls on the cost of care by providers
  • Overhead costs same as retail insurance

However much some people want to say that “private business does everything better than the government ever could,” the truth is that Medicare is a hugely popular, very effective program. Overall, it is efficient in its use of funds, and seniors by and large prefer it over dealing with private health insurance.

And the cry that Medicare is “going broke” because of Obamacare? Let’s see what some experts say, courtesy of a story in the LA Times:

Medicare faces fiscal problems, but it’s not going broke, and according to both the Medicare trustees and the Congressional Budget Office, the Affordable Care Act has in fact alleviated those problems rather than caused them. The trustees reported in 2010 that passage of Obamacare had postponed the projected exhaustion date of the Medicare trust fund by 12 years — to 2029 from 2017. Projections of Medicare spending growth have consistently come down, year after year, at least in part due to changes in the program imposed through Obamacare.

So here we have a health-care program for some of our most vulnerable citizens, that does a good job of providing health-care coverage for our parents and grandparents – and Paul Ryan and the Republicans want to kill it.

medicare photo
Photo by oinonio

We at Forward Kentucky are going to be following this story closely, including how our own Senators and Congressmen vote on it. And if Republicans push this through in Washington, we will not be shy about hanging it right around their necks come the next election. We have already started reaching out to their offices, asking what their position is on turning Medicare into a voucher program. More to come on that; but in the meantime, start reading the stories on Talking Points Memo. Josh Marshall’s site is doing a great job of talking up this important story on the national level. We will do our best to match that on a Kentucky level.

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