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A New Plan For Medicare?

A New Plan For Medicare?

As a greater number of the population is growing older thanks to the aging baby boomers, and life expectancy continues to get better for the majority of Americans, one of the most contentious issues in the federal budget is the expanding cost of Medicare.† Earlier this year, the Republicans released a plan to “save” the program by turning it into a voucher program that most seniors would then need to supplement with their own income.

The proposal, written by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, was a dismal flop, and so unpopular it was believed to be one of the key elements of a special election win in a Republican New York district by Democrat Kathy Hochul.

Now, Ryan is proposing a new Medicare plan, and this time, he is doing it in conjunction with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon.† The Ryan/Wyden Medicare proposal would combine Ryan’s plan to offer vouchers so that seniors can purchase their own private insurance with their own additional finances with the already existing Medicare system, allowing seniors to chose between the two plans.† But it would also put a cap on Medicare spending, a dangerous path that could mean cutting services or access down the line.

Perhaps what is most interesting about the proposal is that, according to Ezra Klein, it actually is set up to act much as President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act does.† “[T]he secret of these types of premium-support platforms is that they are, in essence, a vindication of the Affordable Care Act. The cost containment is supposed to come through competition between plans….In other words, the competition is driven by tying the subsidy to the second-least expensive plan in the market. That way, the system gives beneficiaries a financial incentive to choose the cheaper plan. That is exactly– exactly! — how the Affordable Care Act works. The difference here is that the system will include a massive public option in Medicare, which is something conservatives refused to allow in the Affordable Care Act.”

In essence, there would be a public option (traditional Medicare) and a private option (private insurance) just as when health care reform is implemented fully there is the public exchange that can be used if you cannot afford or access private insurance.† Some are concerned that the same problem could face Medicare as could potentially face health care reform — that there will be a two tier health care system with the sickest on the lowest tier.† But at the very least, unlike Ryan’s original proposal, this version doesn’t phase out Medicare all together.

Still, just because it’s bipartisan doesn’t make it a “compromise.” Klein writes “The real gen≠esis of this proposal, I suspect, is that Wyden just believes this is the right direction for Medicare. Wyden believes in choice and competition. This isnít a trade. Itís not a compromise policy. Itís just a policy that both Ryan and Wyden support as a next step for Medicare.”

One thing it definitely does do?† Provide political cover for GOP presidential hopefuls Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, both of whom have been criticized for supporting plans that had elements much like “Obamacare” does.† No matter who comes out the winner, both will be able to count this as one issue that will hopefully be a non-starter.

 

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1:20PM PST on Dec 18, 2011

as a person at the tail end of the baby boom, I have to say that these folks that want to cut me off from medical care do not take in to account the years we worked and paid in to the system for our care.
When I became eligible for care, I had to first spend down every penny of my retirement account and become destitute before I could get ANY benefits. SO, I was forced by the government to be dependent on them. I could have paid for my own retirement and just gotten the medicare benefits. Now I have to depend on my disability check for the very food that goes in to my mouth, and the medication I need to live in the donut hole when I am in the insurance and big pharmaceutical lobbies. Something has to change here, and it is NOT ending or drastically reducing medicare and retirement.

12:16PM PST on Dec 18, 2011

I love Canada and our free healthcare, a lot better than going broke when something health related comes up

12:13AM PST on Dec 17, 2011

Medicare has already been cut at the county, state, and federal level with more cuts to come. Medical costs go up, but services go down. Seniors are already paying out the nose for a complicated Medicare program and now Congress is proposing another program that will likely cost them even more while being more confusing. And let's not forget that Medicare also covers a population of poor and disabled individuals. The "new" Medicare would be Congress's way of shifting these individuals to a tightfisted program in which medical care would be meagerly doled out in a discriminatory fashion which would essentially be a penalty for their lowly status. Seniors only saving grace, if you could call it that, would be their slightly better ability to pay the price for being robbed.

10:43PM PST on Dec 16, 2011

I had excellent health care until I became eligible for Medicare. Then, my employer dropped me and forced me to go to Medicare. I just got a bill for a pap smear, Medicare refused to pay it because it had only been 20 months since my last one, and they only pay once every two years. Before going on Medicare, I had a co-pay, which I knew I had to pay. Now, I never know how much I am going to be forced to pay. I am glad I have Medicare, but it is not what the people in Congress are pretending it is. As soon as you get old enough to need health care, the rug is pulled out from under you., If they had not taken so much out of the Social Security funds to finance other projects there would be no problem. Yes it is an entitlement. We are entitled to it because we paid into it all our working years. I had my first job when I was 12 years old.

9:00PM PST on Dec 16, 2011

Just so you guys know-America contributes a greater share of its GDP (around 16%) to Health than any other OECD Country (the average is around 8%-9%), yet America currently ranks around 35th in the areas of infant mortality & life expectancy. Doesn't seem you're getting much *bang* for your buck.

7:11PM PST on Dec 16, 2011

Why doesn't US have universal healthcare? All this BS about health insurance and Medicare is just smoke and mirrors to hide the real issue.

3:29PM PST on Dec 16, 2011

How dumb the public is perceived to be.
Take the stolen funds back from the programs you gave it to and take care of the people you told the funds would be there for.
The thieves in the Senate are just trying to cover their own tracks by making it look like they are now doing us a favor. They can't tell the truth because they are afraid they won't be reelected - oh how my heart bleeds for the liars. They should be in jail for all the thievery from medicare, social security, etc.

1:58PM PST on Dec 16, 2011

What a scam. We need Universal Health Care for all, free medical, free dental. free prescription medicines, no doughnut hole, no deductibles, no co-pay, no for profit private Insurance. What we do not need is trillions wasted on useless wars, occupations, tax breaks for billionaires, wall street crooks milking the economy, predatory consumer products. We are fast becoming a totalitarian ruled by the super rich and Corporations. Our politicians sell out to lobbyists to get re-elected into office. We do not have a democracy in America, we are fast losing our civil liberties, and human rights. We need a National Strike to protest the social and economic injustice that our country has become. Occupy.

1:56PM PST on Dec 16, 2011

What a scam. We need Universal Health Care for all, free medical, free dental. free prescription medicines, no doughnut hole, no deductibles, no co-pay, no for profit private Insurance. What we do not need is trillions wasted on useless wars, occupations, tax breaks for billionaires, wall street crooks milking the economy, predatory consumer products. We are fast becoming a totalitarian ruled by the super rich and Corporations. Our politicians sell out to lobbyists to get re-elected into office. We do not have a democracy in America, we are fast losing our civil liberties, and human rights. We need a National Strike to protest the social and economic injustice that our country has become. Occupy.

1:33PM PST on Dec 16, 2011

Let's not forget that Medicare is paid for in advance by working people and they should have the benefits they were promised and paid for. Get those who have big retirement incomes and bank accounts off of Medicare and Social Security so that those who actually contributed and who need it will receive it. Get illegals off of it, too, they did not contribute. Also, Congress would treat healthcare differently in this country if they got the same deal (or shaft) that we, the taxpayers, get. Support the 28th Amendment.

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