News Center

May 25th, 2011

The TRUTH About Medicare

By Betsy McCaughey

A toxic political strategy is heading to Iowa, threatening to bamboozle voters and allow the 2012 election to turn on a lie. Democrats are making the obscenely false claim that they will “save Medicare as we’ve known it.” Yesterday, Democrats used this deceptive strategy to take the special election in the 26th congressional district in western New York. Sadly, this corrupt strategy is likely to be repeated in states such as Iowa, where presidential candidates are vetted. Voters need to know the facts .

The truth is, the Obama health law, passed by Democrats last year, already eviscerated Medicare — though seniors won’t feel the effects for some time. And the reform plan Democrats are attacking — Rep. Paul Ryan’s vision — would undo much of the damage to Medicare while charting a new course to ensure the program doesn’t run out of money.

The Obama health law cut future funding for Medicare by $575 billion over the next decade and used $410 billion of that money to expand eligibility for Medicaid. It’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul, only it’s robbing Grandma to benefit Medicaid recipients.

The nation needs to spend less on government programs, and entitlement reform is key. The best way to reform entitlements is not to start new ones. Don;t miss the point here. The Obama health law is redistributing the wealth — taking money out of Medicare to create new entitlements and millions more government dependents. Seniors are being forced to sacrifice to pay for this.

According to projections from the Obama administration’s actuaries, Medicare will spend $14,731 per senior in 2019, instead of $16,162 if the health law had not passed. That’s less care for seniors. Such cuts might be justifiable if the “savings” extended the financial life of Medicare. Mr. Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius frequently make that false claim. But in truth, the Obama health law raids Medicare, leaving less money to take care of the next generation of retirees.

So what can that next generation, retiring a decade from now, count on? The Obama health law puts those decision in the hands of an unelected board called the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a cost-cutting panel.

The board is a radical departure from Medicare as we’ve known it. Congress cedes nearly all control of Medicare spending on the rationale that budgeting decisions should be shielded from outraged seniors and political pressures. On April 13th, the president reiterated that the board would decide what care is “unnecessary” for seniors, and that he would like to see IPAB’s unprecedented powers increased. Even the Congressional Budget Office cautioned that as the nation’s debt crisis worsens, benefits will be put on the board’s chopping block. IPAB is drawing fire from the AARP and Democratic Rep. Pete Stark (California).

Last week, President Obama indicated that he would like to reduce the deficit by taking an additional $200 billion from Medicare over the next decade. That would be IPAB’s job too.

Ryan’s plan, passed by the Republican majority in the House of Representatives was distorted into a scare machine to intimidate voters in the western New York race. The truth is, seniors would be safer under the Ryan plan than under Medicare Obama style. Beginning in 2022, the Ryan plan would give each new Medicare enrollee a choice of private health plans and a premium paid to the plan they choose. Ryan says the money would be there because his plan repeals the expansion of Medicaid and returns the funds raided from Medicare. Ryan also says seniors are safer choosing their own health plan rather than putting their care in the hands of the cost-cutting IPAB panel.

Let’s hope voters examine the plain facts — because one thing is clear. Obama and the Democratic Party are not saving Medicare “as we know it.”

Photo by Dave Davidson

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About the Author

The Iowa Republican





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