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GOP Presidential Litmus Test (i.e. doing away with Medicare)

May 26, 2011

 

IMPORTANT UPDATE RE: THE NEW REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL LITMUS TEST (i.e. support for the Paul Ryan plan to double seniors’ out-of-pocket costs after “essentially end[ing] Medicare” and leave up to 44 million Americans uninsured, including most nursing home residents, as well as disabled people of any age after slashing $1.4 trillion from Medicaid – all to pay for trillions of dollars in new tax breaks for millionaires, Big Oil and job-outsourcing corporations) :

 

ABC News: ‘Pawlenty Says If He Were President He Would Sign Paul Ryan's Budget’

 

PREVIOUS:

 

Newt Gingrich: No, it’s too “radical” and “right wing-social engineering.”    I mean, YES, YES!

 

Jon Huntsman: “I would have voted for it, including the Medicare provisions.”

 

Herman Cain: “Nobody's talking about the fact that the centerpiece of Ryan's plan is a voucher. Now, a lot of people don't like to use that term because it has a negative connotation. That is what we need."

Dick Cheney: 'I Worship The Ground Paul Ryan Walks On'

Sarah Palin: “I love Paul Ryan’s plan.”

 

Mitt Romney: ?????????  “The Ryan plan and my plan are on the same page, we have the same objectives,” Romney said. “My plan is different than his, it’s not identical. But I applaud the fact that he put forward a plan.”Still, Romney would not elaborate on what he himself would do, saying he’s still an undeclared presidential candidate and would give detailed proposals later. “I will be happy to describe my specific plan, but clearly at this stage that’s still a little premature,” he said.

 

235 House and 40 Senate Republicans: “Aye.”

05.26.11 | permalink

Paul Ryan gets defensive over “shocking” NY-26 GOP loss seen as “rebuke” to his plan to end Medicare

May 25, 2011

Paul Ryan gets defensive over "shocking" NY-26 GOP loss seen as "rebuke" to his plan to end Medicare

 

In response to these sobering headlines this morning …

 

Associated Press: ‘Medicare key to shocking Dem win in NY House race’

New York Times: ‘Democrat Wins G.O.P. Seat; Rebuke Seen to Medicare Plan’

 

…Congressman Paul Ryan, architect of the wildly unpopular, “radical” Republican plan to “essentially end Medicare and double seniors’ out-of-pocket costs so millionaires, Big Oil and job-outsourcing corporations can have another tax break, had this to say on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning:

 

‘There is a Medicare story to be told here ... and it's that the president and his party have decided to shamelessly distort and demagogue Medicare…. If you can scare seniors into thinking that their current benefits are being affected, that’s going to have an effect. And that is exactly what took place here. So yes, yes, it’s demagoguery, it’s scaring seniors.”

A) It must have been another Paul Ryan from Wisconsin who during the health care reform debate took to the House floor to “shamelessly distort and demagogue” the Affordable Care Act and “scare seniors”, falsely claiming the reform would “take coverage away from seniors”.  Not only do seniors on Medicare have all the same guaranteed benefits they’ve always had since the ACA was signed into law, Medicare is today stronger than ever before and seniors are today enjoying new benefits that will get even better over time.  As the AARP wrote to their membership: “The New Health Care Law and You. If you are on Medicare: Your guaranteed Medicare benefits are protected and you will receive improved benefits. Changes to Medicare will lower the out-of-pocket cost for the prescription drugs you need to stay healthy and expand the preventive care you can get for free.” 

 

B) Ryan doesn’t deny that future seniors under 55 will see their guaranteed benefits disappear under his plan after leaving them to the mercy of the private insurance industry. But Ryan doesn’t pass the laugh test claiming today’s seniors wouldn’t see their current benefits affected under his plan –Ryan seems to think pointing out the facts about his plan is “demagoguery”:

  • In 2012 alone, nearly four million seniors nationwide would pay $2.2 billion more for prescription drugs under the Republican plan.  [DPCC Report]
  • Wonk Room: ‘Why Seniors 55 And Older Will See Changes In Medicare Under Ryan’s Budget’
  • Under The Republican Plan, At Least One Million Seniors and People With Disabilities Will Pay Over $110 Million More For Their Annual Wellness Visits In 2012. At least 1,000,000 seniors are expected to see their physician for an annual wellness visit in 2012. These visits are critical to positive health outcomes for seniors across the country. As a result of the Republican plan, these seniors would each pay an additional $160 for the first visit and $105 for a subsequent visit. [HHS, 3/16/11; Kaiser State Health Facts, accessed on 5/5/11]
  •  All Seniors Enrolled In Medicare Will Be Forced to Pay More for Health Care Services Under the Republican Plan.  The Republican plan will require that seniors pay deductibles, co-insurance, and copayments for many preventive services currently covered by Medicare; including cancer screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies as well as annual wellness visits. Seniors could be forced to pay for many other health services that Medicare currently covers free of charge to the patient, including mammograms; colorectal, cervical and prostate cancer screening; cholesterol and other cardiovascular screenings; diabetes screening and flu shots. [HHS, 11/4/10]

 

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05.25.11 | permalink

“GOP shapes Medicare response” – i.e. wax nostalgic about wasteful subsidies to Big Insurance

May 24, 2011

 

Politico: “GOP shapes Medicare response” – i.e. wax nostalgic about wasteful subsidies to Big Insurance

 

Buckle up, America – Congressional Republicans are preparing to respond to the well-deserved criticism they’ve received in town halls across the country for their votes and intended votes for a wildly unpopular, “radical” plan to “essentially end Medicare and double seniors’ out-of-pocket costs so millionaires, Big Oil and outsourcing corporations can have another tax break.

 

And that response is …

 

to wax nostalgic about billions of dollars in wasteful and needless subsidies once given to the big insurance companies to inefficiently reinvent the Medicare wheel at the expense of all beneficiaries.   No, seriously.

 

From Politico’s Ben Smith today:

 

Sen. Chuck Schumer vowed yesterday to make the Medicare changes in Paul Ryan's budget a defining campaign issue for Senate Republicans in 2012 -- but Republicans plan to respond by reviving criticism of cuts to the Medicare Advantage program that were built into the 2010 health care bill.

 

Republicans in Congress are so desperate to distract the American people about their plan to end Medicare that they plan to dust off the old 2010 play book and try to pull the same dirty, trick play: that is to purposely try to scare and mislead seniors into believing that their Medicare benefits are getting cut under the new health care law.    Ignoring the conclusions to the contrary at the time from independent fact checkers and the AARP, during the 2010 election, one after another, Republicans falsely accused their Democratic opponents of cutting Medicare’s guaranteed benefits and they did so with the help of millions and millions and millions of dollars worth of deceitful TV ads from Corporate front groups. 

 

The fact is, it’s been over a year since the Affordable Care Act became law and no senior has seen their guaranteed benefits cut … period. What the new health law did cut, as part of its efforts to rein in waste and abuse in the system, was billions of dollars in wasteful in subsidies to private insurance companies that offer the so-called Medicare Advantage program, a program which needlessly and inefficiently reinvents the Medicare wheel at the expense of all beneficiaries.  

 

As the Economic Policy Institute put it before the ACA became law: “In a nut shell, Medicare Advantage plans are private plans funded through Medicare to provide similar benefits, but at a 14% higher cost on average, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent Congressional agency. Eliminating these overpayments would free up $157 billion over 10 years.”

 

And as Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted in a 2009 report: “The overpayments, which have totaled nearly $44 billion between 2004 and 2008, average more than $1,100 for each beneficiary enrolled in a private plan. By increasing Medicare costs, these overpayments also drive up premiums for beneficiaries in traditional Medicare by $86 per year for a couple, according to the chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. More than 31 million seniors and people with disabilities enrolled in regular Medicare are forced to pay higher premiums each month to subsidize these excess payments.’

SEE ALSO: Med Page Today, Nov. 26, 2008: “Private Medicare Costs More Than Traditional Plans Without Quality Improvement”

By eliminating these wasteful subsidies to the private insurance industry, Medicare is today stronger than it has ever been before.  Not only did the health law strengthen Medicare’s solvency by 12 years and not only do Medicare beneficiaries still have all the same guaranteed benefits they’ve always had, but seniors now have NEW benefits like free preventive care services and tens of thousands of enrollees who fall into the infamous Part D “donut hole” are saving an average of $800 per person thanks to a new 50-percent discount on covered brand-name drugs.  And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, billions of dollars in waste, fraud and abuse in the system is getting tackled in a serious way – you may have see this recent headline: “In ‘Largest-Ever’ Bust, Medicare Fraud Task Force Arrests 111’ 

 

And the fact is, far from their campaign promises to protect Medicare, all but 5 House Republicans voted to dismantle the cherished social contract with seniors and dramatically shortchange them on their care.  As The Economist puts it, the GOP plan ends the guarantee that all American seniors will have health insurance.”  

 

The fact is, House Republicans voted to replace Medicare with a voucher system where seniors in their 60s, 70s, 80s and older are given a coupon and sent out into the private insurance market – a coupon that won’t keep up with the rising costs of health care and will leave seniors paying over $6,000 more out of their pockets for care.   Not stopping there, the Republican plan would also slash $1.4 trillion from Medicaid, leaving up to 44 million Americans uninsured, including most nursing home residents, as well as disabled people of any age.  And despite Republican claims to the contrary, not even today’s seniors would escape cuts in their Medicare benefits under the GOP plan as it would repeal provisions in the new health law that are working to fill in the Part D “donut hole” and help seniors pay for the medicines they need. In fact, under the GOP plan, next year alone, seniors currently in the donut hole would pay an additional $2.2 Billion for their Rx drugs.

 

Bottom Line: If Republicans in Congress think mourning the loss of needless subsidies to the big insurance companies will distract the American people about their plan to end Medicare as we know it, they’re sorely mistaken. 

05.24.11 | permalink

Senate GOP Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don’t Vote to End Medicare

May 23, 2011

 

Senate GOP Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don’t Vote to End Medicare and Double Seniors’ Out-of-Pocket Costs to Pay for Another Millionaires' Tax Break

 

Decisions, Decisions: Face The Ire of Their Constituents…or the Republican Party Establishment?

 

SEE: Associated Press: ‘Poll: Medicare doesn't have to be cut’ – see also Huffington Post: ‘Medicare Cuts Unpopular In Swing States, Polls Suggest’

 

See Also: Tea Leaves: Fire Red NY-26 District in Jeopardy for Republicans After the GOP Candidate’s Support for the Ryan Plan Becomes Central Issue in Special Election

 

With the Senate expected to vote this week on the House Republican plan to turn Medicare into Coupon Care and double seniors’ out-of-pocket costs so millionaires can have another tax break, the latest polls out show Senate Republicans have a tough choice to make.  Will they join 235 of their House colleagues in voting for a plan the American people are “not buying” and too face the ire of their constituents back home?   Or will they vote ‘no’ and incur the wrath of the Republican Party establishment that left former Speaker Newt Gingrich begging for mercy last week after he dared to call the Ryan plan what it is: “radical change.”   

 

Senate Republicans need only look at the special election taking place in New York’s 26th congressional district tomorrow to see how a vote to end Medicare would be as well received back home as a bed bug infestation.  In what was supposed to be a shoo-in and instead has remarkably become a toss-up, Republican Jane Corwin is running neck-and-neck in the polls in a heavily-Republican district (that has elected only three Democrats since 1857) in a race where Corwin’s enthusiastic support of the Ryan plan has taken center stage. 

 

Senate Republicans need only look at Newt Gingrich to see how they’re “damned if they don’t” vote to end Medicare so Big Oil and GE can pay even less taxes.  The spectacle of the former House Speaker’s whiplash-inducing 180 and apology tour after calling the Ryan plan “right-wing social engineering” made clear there’s a new litmus test for the Republican party and if you’re not for ending Medicare, the reaction is acidic.

 

No doubt Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) can expect the same tongue-lashing from the Party establishment today after going from “thank[ing] God” for the Ryan plan to now declaring he will not vote for it in an op-ed today.  Brown echoed what a chorus of independent analysts has long-since concluded: “Why can’t I go along with the Ryan Medicare plan?  First, I fear that as health inflation rises, the cost of private plans will outgrow the government premium support— and the elderly will be forced to pay ever higher deductibles and co-pays.”    No doubt Senator Brown is today receiving fewer angry calls from seniors he represents at the same time finding it more difficult to get his Party’s elite to take his. 

 

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05.23.11 | permalink

It’s Been an Especially Extreme Week for the GOP

May 19, 2011

 

It’s Been an Especially Extreme Week for the GOP

 

First, Supporting the Wildly Unpopular House Republican Plan for Eliminating Medicare to Pay for Another Tax Break for Millionaires Became the New GOP Litmus Test as Former GOP Speaker Gingrich Incurred the Wrath of the Party Establishment After Calling the Ryan Plan What It Is -- “Radical Change” :

 

CNN:  Newt Gingrich sparked this firestorm on Sunday when talking about Ryan's Medicare proposal, saying, "I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. I don't think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate."  Since then Gingrich has apologized to Ryan and conducted interviews with conservative commentators in what appears to be an attempt of damage control.
[…]
White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer is also weighing in on the Gingrich controversy, saying on Twitter Wednesday that the "biggest takeaway from the Gingrich flap – ending Medicare as we know it is the new GOP litmus test."

Meanwhile, at the same time the GOP establishment was turning up the heat on Newt for assailing the “radical” Ryan plan, House Republicans continued to feel the heat back home in their districts for voting for it :

Las Vegas Review-Journal: ‘Heck town hall meeting sparks passions’
VIDEO: Town Hall Constituents To Rep. Allen West: ‘Hands Off Medicare!’

Palm Beach Post: At town hall meetings, critics confront GOP Rep. West over Medicare cuts
Duluth News Tribune: Sparks fly in Cravaack’s visit to Iron Range.

Sun Sentinel: Rep. Allen West faces tough questions at town hall in Pompano Beach.

AP: Freshman Rep. Cravaack defends Medicare vote

Herald-Review: Schilling defends possible changes to Medicare during town hall in Decatur


Then on Tuesday, Senate Republicans blocked legislation supported by more than 70% of the American public to eliminate $21 billion in wasteful and unnecessary subsidies for the five largest, most profitable oil companies in the world that made $30 billion in profit in just the first quarter of 2011 :

 

New York Times: The Senate on Tuesday blocked a Democratic proposal to strip the five leading oil companies of tax breaks that backers of the measure said were unfairly padding industry profits while consumers were struggling with high gas prices. … The defeat on Tuesday was expected since most Republicans were dug in against what they saw as a politically motivated plan in advance of the 2012 elections. … Under the proposal, Democrats would have eliminated five different tax breaks enjoyed by the multinational oil companies, producing an estimated $21 billion over 10 years.

 

And Throughout the Week, More and More House and Senate Republicans Climbed Aboard the “Default Deniers” Crazy Train, Despite Warning from the Economic, Financial and Business Communities of the Dire Consequences of Failing to Raise the Debt Ceiling, including “likely push[ing] the U.S. into recession and drag down the stock market” :

 

Politico, May 17: Default deniers: The new skeptics They are the newest breed of government skeptics, the swelling ranks of Republicans who don’t believe the Obama administration when it says a failure to raise the debt limit will prove catastrophic.   And they stand ready to make negotiations over raising the cap on debt as grueling as possible, making Treasury officials and Wall Street more nervous than ever that the country could suffer an unprecedented default with consequences no one can predict.  The suspicion, which once flourished on only the conservative outskirts of economic circles, has seeped into the mainstream in recent weeks, gaining broader acceptance among establishment Republicans, even as the administration issues increasingly dire warnings. 

 

MSNBC: GOP congressman: Default would benefit the U.S.  By now, it shouldn't be a surprise that House Republicans are against raising the debt ceiling -- unless it's joined by a significant effort to reduce spending.  But it is surprising when one GOP member says that defaulting on the debt and going through "a period of crisis" could actually be a good thing. California Congressman Devin Nunes (R) said in an interview:  “By defaulting on the debt, in the short and long term, it could benefit us to go through a period of crisis that forces politicians to make decisions” on major policies that affect the budget, he told POLITICO.

 

Think Progress: Toomey: ‘I Doubt’ That Failing To Raise The Debt Ceiling ‘Would Be Disruptive To The Economy’: As former Reagan economic official Bruce Bartlett noted, “failure to raise the debt limit not only threatens a default that could potentially roil the entire world financial system, but would potentially deprive federal workers of their salaries, deny payments to businesses for goods and services sold to the federal government, renege on Social Security benefits to retirees, and shortchange savers who depend on interest income.” Bank of America analysts noted that not raising the debt ceiling “would necessitate politically unpopular and potentially economically crippling budget cuts that would likely push the U.S. into recession and drag down the stock market.” It would also make paying off the debt much more expensive (through higher interest rates). Those sure sound like adverse effects.

 

 

05.19.11 | permalink

House GOP Back Home On Recess, Back Facing “catcalls,” “booing,” “hostile questions”

May 17th, 2011

House GOP Back Home On Recess, Back Facing “catcalls,” “booing,” “hostile questions” After Voting to End Medicare to Pay for Another Tax Break for Millionaires, Big Oil

 

WGN 9 Chicago Evening News, 5/16/11: “‘Hands off my Medicare!’ was the message outside as Representative Paul Ryan was inside the Palmer House Hilton speaking to the Economic Club of Chicago.  The Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee talking about his plan to cut and balance the budget which includes a controversial proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher program. Dozens of protesters marched outside chanting “Tax the Rich!” and carrying signs that read ‘Hands of My Social Security!’ and ‘Paul Ryan Plan: Let Them Eat Cat Food.’”

 

 

Watch It Here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85te2BA1DdU 

 

 

Columbian (Vancouver, WA), 5/16/11: Crowd pulls few punches at Herrera Beutler town hall: U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler faced a boisterous, partisan crowd Tuesday evening at her first Vancouver town hall, where she fielded sometimes hostile questions about her vote to restructure Medicare and her reluctance to support raising the federal debt limit… Several hundred people showed up at Skyview High School for the session. They passed a couple dozen protesters near the entrance who hoisted signs saying, “Save Medicare: Tax the Rich” and “People not Profits.” … “My first priority is to preserve and protect Medicare for the present generation and for future generations,” she said. But when she insisted that the Republican budget blueprint for 2012 “protects Medicare,” a chorus of boos and catcalls and shouts of “liar” erupted in the auditorium.

 

MSNBC, 5/16/11: For one Rep., a mixed reaction on the Medicare voteFirst-term Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler faced down some catcalls and booing at a two-hour town hall meeting with about 500 constituents Monday night at Skyview High School in Vancouver, Wash.

 

KSAZ FOX 10 (Phoenix), 5/16/11: Congressman Quayle Takes Heat for Medicare Decision: ANTHEM, Ariz. - It was one of the most provocative and memorable ads from last year's campaign. Ben Quayle, the son of former vice president Dan Quayle, while running for Congress proclaimed Barack Obama the worst president ever.  And he also made a memorable promise to voters: "I love Arizona, I was raised right, someone has to go to D.C. and knock the hell out of the place.” Monday night at a town meeting in Anthem, it was Ben Quayle who got beat up a bit while meeting with his constituents.  Many people in the crowd were fired up about about his stance on the proposed changes to the Medicare system. Quayle favors the Republican plan which would give seniors vouchers to buy health insurance on the private market.

 

Rep. Andy Harris takes Medicare budget debate to Berlin, Ocean City [Ocean City Today] “Harris brought the budget battle to Worcester County Saturday when he spoke at the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel in Ocean City and at Showell Elementary School. […] Harris defended the fiscal 2012 budget proposal introduced by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and approved by the Republican controlled House of Representatives. […] The auditorium was filled with senior citizens concerned about Medicare and, as with the numerous town hall meetings of 2009, the crowd reached pitched debate on health care issues. George Benton of West Ocean City was concerned about the costs for future generations and that costs could increase for existing beneficiaries within several years. “The Paul Ryan bill will kill Medicare as we know it,” argued Benton. “These good people want their tax dollars to go toward their grandchildrens’ costs. We’ve been borrowing all this money from China to pay for the Iraq War and for Bush-era tax cuts on the wealthy.” [Ocean City Today, 5/13/11]

 

WPBF (Palm Beach, FL), 5/16/11: Congressman's Meeting Interrupted By Shouting.  Another town hall meeting organized by U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, devolved into a shouting match Monday night. About 100 people came to hear the congressman speak. Police escorted one person out of the meeting.  But not everyone agreed with West's ideas on how to fix the nation's problems.

 

"I didn't agree with his explanation about Medicare. I'm very concerned about cutting Medicare and changing Medicare without looking at the revenue side," resident Dave King said.

 

Meanwhile, Speaker Boehner has decided to keep his head in the sand about the overwhelming public opposition to the Republican plan to do away with Medicare so billionaires(?) like Donald Trump can have another tax break, telling Face the Nation on Sunday:

 

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: But you can ask any one of our members and they’ll tell you that on average eighty percent of the people at these town hall meetings--were supportive of taking big steps to put our fiscal House in order.


In reality, according to a recent poll conducted by The Hill:


By a 20-point margin, more Americans oppose Medicare cuts as part of action to control the deficit.

By a 32-point margin, American women and, by a 27-point margin, Americans age 40-64 oppose these cuts to Medicare.

57 percent of Independents and 89 percent of Democrats support rolling back tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 in an effort to reduce the deficit.

05.17.11 | permalink

The Truth Hurts for Republicans in Congress That Voted to End Medicare

MEMORANDUM


Date: May 12, 2011

To: Editorial Boards

From: Americans United for Change

Subject: The Truth Hurts for Republicans in Congress That Voted to End Medicare to Pay for Another Tax Break for Millionaires

 

 

What Hypocrisy, What Dishonesty, What Nerve: The Same Republicans That Falsely Accused Democrats of Gutting Medicare on the Campaign Trail and Then Turned Around and Voted to Abolish Medicare When They Got to Washington Are Now Crying Foul Over Well-Deserved Criticism of Their Actions, Deceit …

 

Talking Points Memo: ‘GOP Freshmen On Medicare Attacks: Let's Let Bygones Be Bygones’ 

Politico: ‘GOP frosh protest Dems' rhetoric on Medicare’

 

New York Times: “Republicans Decry Tactics the Party Used Last Year

 

Washington Monthly: ‘House GOP freshmen conveniently forget 2010’

 

It was a breathtaking display of hypocrisy.  House Republicans gathered at the Capitol steps this week to cry foul over the well-deserved criticism they’re receiving, especially from their constituents back home, following their April 15th vote for a misguided and radical budget plan – a plan that seeks to “essentially end Medicare” by replacing it with system of ever-shrinking private insurance vouchers while at the same time doling out over $4 trillion in new tax breaks for millionaires, Big Oil companies, and corporations that outsource US jobs.  Before the squeals get any louder, let’s get the facts straight.

 

It’s understandable that Republicans in Congress would love to “wipe the slate clean” when it comes to Medicare especially after many of them joined in the most well-coordinated, well-funded misinformation campaign of 2010, where seniors were purposely misled into believing that their Medicare benefits would be cut under the President’s new health care law.  Ignoring the conclusions to the contrary at the time from independent fact checkers and the AARP, one after another, Republicans falsely accused their Democratic opponents of cutting Medicare’s guaranteed benefits and they did so with the help of millions and millions and millions of dollars worth of deceitful TV ads from Corporate front groups. The Golden Rule sure didn’t apply on the campaign trail, but now it should, they argue. 

 

But there’s a seismic difference between the rhetoric GOP used in 2010 and the criticisms leveled their direction today: FACTS. 

 

The fact is, Affordable Care Act did not cut guaranteed benefits for seniors … period.  What the new health law did cut, as part of its efforts to rein in waste and abuse in the system, was billions of dollars in wasteful in subsidies to private insurance companies that offer the so-called Medicare Advantage program, a program which needlessly and inefficiently reinvents the Medicare wheel at the expense of all beneficiaries.   As the Economic Policy Institute summarized before the ACA became law: “In a nut shell, Medicare Advantage plans are private plans funded through Medicare to provide similar benefits, but at a 14% higher cost on average, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent Congressional agency. Eliminating these overpayments would free up $157 billion over 10 years, a substantial down payment on health care reform.” 

 

And as Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted in a 2009 report: “The overpayments, which have totaled nearly $44 billion between 2004 and 2008, average more than $1,100 for each beneficiary enrolled in a private plan. By increasing Medicare costs, these overpayments also drive up premiums for beneficiaries in traditional Medicare by $86 per year for a couple, according to the chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. More than 31 million seniors and people with disabilities enrolled in regular Medicare are forced to pay higher premiums each month to subsidize these excess payments.’

 

By eliminating these wasteful subsidies to the private insurance industry, Medicare is today stronger than it has ever been before.  Not only did the health law strengthen Medicare’s solvency by 12 years and not only do Medicare beneficiaries still have all the same guaranteed benefits they’ve always had, but seniors now have NEW benefits like free preventive care services and tens of thousands of enrollees who fall into the infamous Part D “donut hole” are saving an average of $800 per person thanks to a new 50-percent discount on covered brand-name drugs.  And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, billions of dollars in waste, fraud and abuse in the system is getting tackled in a serious way – you may have see this recent headline: “In 'Largest-Ever' Bust, Medicare Fraud Task Force Arrests 111’ 

 

And the fact is, far from their campaign promises to protect Medicare, all but 5 House Republicans voted to shred the cherished social contract with seniors and dramatically shortchange them on their care.  As The Economist put it, the GOP plan ends the guarantee that all American seniors will have health insurance.”  

 

The fact is, House Republicans voted to replace Medicare with a voucher system where seniors in their 60s, 70s, 80s and older are given a coupon and sent out into the private insurance market – a coupon that won’t keep up with the rising costs of health care and will leave seniors paying over $6,000 more out of their pockets for care.   Not stopping there, the Republican plan would also slash $1.4 trillion from Medicaid, leaving up to 44 million Americans uninsured, including most nursing home residents, as well as disabled people of any age.  And despite Republican claims to the contrary, not even today’s seniors would escape cuts in their Medicare benefits under the GOP plan as it would repeal provisions in the new health law that are working to fill in the Part D “donut hole” and help seniors pay for the medicines they need. In fact, under the GOP plan, next year alone, seniors currently in the donut hole would pay an additional $2.2 Billion for their Rx drugs.

 

As our organization asked GOP Representatives who voted for the Ryan budget in a recent TV ad: “What were you thinking?”

 

SEE ALSO: AARP: Fact Sheet: What the Health Care Law Does Now for People 65+ 

 

Bottom Line: Republicans in Congress Can Whine All They Want About the Heat They’ve Come Under In Recent Weeks, But The Fact Remains: They Approved a Plan in the U.S. House to End Medicare as We Know It to Pay For More Tax Breaks for Millionaires, and There’s No Running or Hiding From It

The GOP Budget is Wildly Out-of-Step With the American People: From the Washington Post, 4/20/11:  The Post-ABC poll finds that 78 percent oppose cutting spending on Medicare as a way to chip away at the debt. On Medicaid — the government insurance program for the poor — 69 percent disapprove of cuts.In his speech last week, the president renewed his call to raise tax rates on family income over $250,000, and he appears to hold the high ground politically, according to the poll. At this point, 72 percent support raising taxes along those lines, with 54 percent strongly backing this approach. … The proposal enjoys the support of majorities of Democrats (91 percent), independents (68 percent) and Republicans (54 percent).

05.13.11 | permalink

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