According to ThinkProgress.org, Ryan’s new Medicare proposal hews to the same basic structure as his previous premium support plans — in essence, a system of insurance vouchers. Under the plan, future Medicare beneficiaries would have the option of choosing between traditional fee-for-service Medicare or a list of private health plans and receive a subsidy to help pay the chosen policy’s premium. Unlike previous Ryan budgets, however, seniors who are currently 55 or younger would be forced into this alternative system, likely breaking a pledge House Republicans made last year promising that current 55-year-olds would be able to stay on traditional Medicare.
Ryan emphasizes that his proposal still gives seniors the choice of remaining in regular Medicare. But what he doesn’t mention is that his plan makes Medicare so expensive that millions of seniors will likely be forced to switch into the private plans. While Ryan employs a different type of bidding system for private health plans under his 2015 blueprint that softens his plan’s topline effect on beneficiaries’ costs, an earlier Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of Medicare premium support systems found that plans such as Ryan’s would increase traditional Medicare premiums by a staggering 50 percent.
The millions of seniors who are forced over to private plans would also find themselves with different doctors and narrower coverage networks under Ryancare — ironic considering Republicans’ unabashed outrage over news that the Affordable Care Act had canceled about three or four million skimpy insurance policies. But unlike Obamacare, Ryan doesn’t require his replacement private plans to have a more robust base level of consumer protections and benefits than beneficiaries’ previous coverage.
Low-income seniors would be particularly hurt by the Ryan approach to Medicare, since it would also raise the Medicare eligibility threshold. Since Ryan’s plan also dismantles Obamacare, including the health law’s Medicaid expansion, this would be a major blow to the poor and elderly who are just on the cusp of Medicaid eligibility. These people would be unlikely to qualify for Medicaid absent the ACA’s expansion and many of them would be forced to continue working simply for the sake of retaining their employer-sponsored coverage, a phenomenon known as “job lock.” Seniors who aren’t lucky enough to receive employer coverage would have to try their luck in an individual market absent Obamacare’s consumer protections and industry reforms, meaning they may be charged exorbitant rates for having poor health or denied health insurance altogether.
A full CBO analysis of Ryan’s new budget plan is necessary in order to evaluate its overall effect on seniors. But the blueprint Ryan released this week suggests that it boils down to seniors paying a bigger chunk of money for their care or having fewer coverage options.
It is likely that Ryan’s Republican Party will regain complete control of Congress by this time next year. At that point, the only person standing in the way of the end of the traditional Medicare program will be President Barack Obama. It will be up to him to decide whether to sign into law the end of Medicare as we know it.
Ironically, having to watch with increasing anxiety as the two major parties haggle about the issue of health care/insurance has probably already caused lots of very expensive, stress-related health problems over the last five years.
Once Rep. Ryan gets through with what he wants to accomplish, an even higher percentage of Americans (nearly half the population has less than a month’s worth of savings) will no longer be able to afford to get sick or injured anymore.
Not suprisingly, Wall Street investment bankers, who more or less own the U.S. federal government, regardless of which political party is in nominal control, agree with Rep. Ryan that the safety net must be cut.
Michael Cembalest, a JP Morgan executive, complains of an “inexorable rise of entitlement payments” which is preventing, among other things, the Pentagon and related federal agencies from building up their so-called “defense” or “security” budgets as much as in the past.
This “unnecessary” and “wasteful” spending on the so-called “entitled” (aka elderly who’ve paid into the programs they receive) is also cramping the style of the Bush family/neoconservative wing of the GOP, which has been trying to dominate the world (the so-called New World Order) through military force for the last 25 years. This cabal doesn’t understand why Americans’ enthusiasm for starting new wars, including one against Russia, is waning.
As someone commented after Cembalest’s opinion appeared on ZeroHedge.com:
“First they make you poor...then they blame you for being poor...then they kill you.”