Medicare Food Stamps
by John Lynch, Issues Committee
Democratic Executive Committee of Collier County
It should come as no shock that the Republicans have begun the dismantling of Medicare and Medicaid. Rep. Paul Ryan presented the party's 2012 budget proposal on April 5th. He proposed that, for those over 55, there would be no change to Medicare. Those under 55 in 2012 would be cast into the "new" program. Ryan proposes the system be privatized.
Seniors would seek their medical insurance from private medical insurers and they would receive "premium support" in the form of an annual coupon. From early analysis, it appears that they are proposing a form of medical food stamps. You can be assured that the proposal contains no effective mechanism to control medical cost inflation or bury the outmoded fee for service payment system. This will result in seniors having decreasing support in a more and more expensive world. The fact that the US is well behind the rest of the developed world in life-expectancy, morbidity, infant mortality and general health, speaks volumes about our approach to healthcare.
Words like "ludicrous" and "shameful" are too soft to describe this proposal. While he was at it, Ryan dealt with Medicaid. He suggests that the Federal Government would supply block grants to the States. States would be able to create their own version of medical services to the poor, impoverished children and the chronically ill. Current management by states does not engender much confidence in the will of states or their capacity to treat people well.
The largest unfunded liability in the Medicare system is the prescription drugs program. At the same time as this was introduced by the Bush administration, they refused to permit entities like Medicare to negotiate drug prices (as every other developed country in the world does). The Drug Lobby was delighted...just as the health insurance companies will be with this latest attempt by Republicans to support large corporations at the expense of ordinary people.
Republicans say that Paul Ryan is bold and brave to propose entitlement reform. He may well be. Words like doctrinaire, trickle down economist and ruthless should also be applied--- because he also proposes that the wealthy will have their tax levels reduced from 35% to 25%.. In addition, he wants to lower the corporate tax rate (not that any large corporation pays much tax). This is all in aid of discredited economic thought: that somehow or other jobs will be created because of more disposable income for the rich.
Once more, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Fortunately, there are hopeful signs that protests and the power of the ballot will reverse these cruel and counter-productive proposals.
John Boener said that, "We don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem". He's half-right.