Talking Points Memo has a preview of legislation to be introduced today by Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) which would eliminate Medicare and Medicaid over the next 10 years and replace them with less generous health care plans for older adults and lower income and disabled people.
We strive to be nonpartisan at ChangingAging.org — but not when it comes to our social contract to protect the most vulnerable people in our country. We stand with the elders — current and future.
Despite looming financing problems, Medicare is among the most popular federal programs ever created and has served older adults well for decades. But instead of offering suggestions to fix Medicare’s financing problems by figuring out cheaper, smarter ways to deliver health care to older adults, the GOP plan is to dramatically curtail benefits. The irony? First, the Ryan plan calls for privatizing Medicare by creating a system nearly identical to the dreaded “Obamacare.” Second:
[F]or all those older Americans who voted GOP last year because those nasty Democrats were going to cut Medicare, I have just one word,” wrote New York Times columnist, and Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman: “suckers!”
He’s referring to ads like this one, which Republicans used to great effect to help win historic victories in the November midterms:
When it comes to eliminating Medicaid the reviews are even more damning:
Ryan would eliminate the federal parameters governing the program and instead have Washington send states lump sums of money to put towards health care for the poor. In some states, that will mean patients — the poor, disabled and elderly — will suffer dramatic benefit cuts, particularly during tough economic times.
AARP seems if anything more concerned about the Medicaid proposal than the Medicare plan.
“A wholesale overhaul of Medicaid to block grants would likely lead to reduced benefits and eligibility, resulting in powerful negative repercussions for the millions of Americans who rely on Medicaid for their health and long term care,” Nora Super, AARP’s director of federal government relations for health, tells TPM.
Medicaid is often conceived of as a less luxurious version of Medicare for the poor, but many elderly Americans benefit from both. The GOP has been at war with AARP over its support of the health care law.
What is needed are evidenced-based approaches to using Medicare’s dominant role in the medical market place to reduce cost growth, not slash and burn politics to divide the country and gut one of our most important and effective social safety nets.