GOP Would Privatize Medicare, Gut Medicaid

On Tuesday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled a draft budget resolution for 2012. Ryan’s program would privatize Medicare and gut Medicaid.

“Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, is waging radical class warfare and ideological privatization schemes and selling it as a debt reduction plan,” writes Karen Dolan in AlterNet. Indeed, Ryan’s plan is larded with tax cuts for wealthy citizens and profitable corporations, which according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), would actually increase the national debt over the next decade. The CBO projects that the debt would reach 70% of GDP by 2022 under Ryan’s plan compared to 67% under the status quo.

At TAPPED, Jamelle Bouie predicts that Ryan’s budget plan will become the de facto platform for the GOP in the 2012 elections. Presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty is already gushing about the plan. He notes the irony in Republicans seizing upon a plan to eliminate Medicare when they campaigned so hard to “protect” the program during the fight over the Affordable Care Act.

Attacking Medicare is politically risky. The conventional wisdom is the program is all but invulnerable because it is so popular with the general public, and especially with senior citizens — who reliably turn out to vote in large numbers.

Suzy Khimm of Mother Jones argues that, in order to win this political fight, the Democrats need to emphasize what they’re doing to grapple with the rising costs of Medicare — such as creating an independent board to regulate the reimbursement rates for all procedures covered under Medicare. Republicans have harshly criticized such a board as an example of health care rationing. Their proposed plan, however, would ration care far more severely, based on ability to pay. Ryan’s plan would give seniors a voucher to defray part of the cost of buying private health insurance. The voucher wouldn’t cover care equivalent to that which is offered under Medicare. So, under Ryan’s plan, care would be rationed based on each person’s ability to pay for extra coverage.

In a separate piece, Khimm notes that the GOP is taking a further political gamble by proposing massive cuts to Medicaid. She cites a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation which found that only 13% of respondents favored major cuts to Medicaid. Republicans may be betting that they can cut Medicaid because they associate it with health care for the very poor, a constituency with little political capital and low voter turnout. But while Medicaid does serve the poor, a large percentage of its budget covers nursing home care for middle class retirees and services for adults with major disabilities–care that their families would otherwise have to pay for.

How to save $15 billion in health care costs

New research suggests that the federal government could save $15 billion by reducing unnecessary emergency room visits through investment in community health centers, Dan Peterson of reports:

This week, new research, from the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative, pinpoints just how much we stand to lose in health care efficiency savings if the funding is cut as proposed; $15 billion. Put another way, for every $1 invested in CHC expansion, there is a potential savings in health care costs of $11.50.

Peterson reports that money to expand the CHC program may be cut from the budget. The report explains that if the funding is lost, then CHCs will not be able to serve the 10-12 million additional patients who were supposed to get care through expanded CHCs under the Affordable Care Act. If Congress refuses to allot $1.3 billion for cost-effective primary care, $15 billion in projected savings will evaporate.

If Republicans are serious about balancing the budget, they should happily expand the Community Health Center network.

Danish Antibiotic Resistance Education

D.A.R.E. to keep pigs off drugs. The U.S. hog industry is heavily dependent on low-dose antibiotics to keep its swine infection-free. This practice comes at the cost of increased antibiotic resistance. Sixteen years ago, the government of Denmark, the world’s largest exporter of pork, took the bold step of asking its pork industry to reduce the amount of antibiotics given to pigs. Ralph Loglisci of Grist notes that the experiment has been a huge success: The industry has slashed antibiotic use by 37%, antibiotic resistance is down nationwide, and production has held steady or increased.

Gay-bashed, uninsured

Twenty-nine-year-old Barie Shortell’s face was shattered in an apparent anti-gay attack in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in February. Joseph Huff-Hannon reports on AlterNet on an obstacle in Shortell’s already-long road to recovery:

After blacking out, and spending 10 hours in surgery and five days in the hospital, Shortell is now taking another whipping from one of the insidious antagonists of 21st-century American life — the private health-care system. Shortell, like many of his fellow American twentysomethings, is uninsured.

Up to 30% of people in their twenties are uninsured. The Affordable Care Act should reduce the number of uninsured twenty-somethings, but as Huff Hannon notes, the number of uninsured young adults is expected to continue to rise for some time. The ACA allows young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26, but this reform is of little help to the millions of families who lost job-linked health coverage during the recession.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint.

Related Stories:

Paul Ryan, Republicans Sign On To End Medicare

Victims of Anti-Gay Beating: Violence Against LGBTs Has To Stop

80 Percent of Antibiotics in the US Go To Farm Animals


Photo courtesy of bluewinx15 via flickr

By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger


Hope S.
Hope S6 years ago

Privatization along with deregulation that the Repuliccans want would lead to more corruption by corporations whose only interest is the bottom line. The private sector mainly Wall Street is salivating of Medicare is a program meant to protect people in retirement, disabled, or the children and spouses of one who has died after working the required number of years to be eligible. Medicare is a program to provide health care to the very poor and indigent among us. These programs are not meant to be profit driven or subject to the whims of stocks.

Goverment must be run by our elected representatives and not by the private sector which is profit driven.

See: "Who Rules America" which is several years out of date but has only grown worse.

If we are to be a government by the people and for the people, then we must be careful in electing those who will represent all of us and not just the top 1%.

We need new tough laws on gifts to Congressmen, and keep the protections of our people and environment through The Consumer Financial Protection bureau, The Dodd Frank Act, The Clean Air and Clean Water Acts; to cite just a few.

jane richmond
jane richmond7 years ago

If you have great insurance for yourself who cares about the other guy.-- GOP philosophy.

Dan B.
Dan Brook7 years ago

The regressive Republican Party of No is obstructionist, mean-spirited, thuggish, religiously fanatical, scientifically ignorant, corrupt, hypocritical, xenophobic, racist, sexist, homophobic, evolution and global warming denying, oily, Medicare and Social Security slashing, union busting, authoritarian, selfish, greedy, lacking compassion, warmongering, and otherwise dangerous.

NEVER vote for Republicans.

Kris J.
Kristina J7 years ago

The only thing they need to do to fix medicare/medicaid is to crack down on the absurd amount of fraud. There have been many people who complain of trying to report fraud to the agencies, only to be ignored. This has to stop. Every doctor in the country knows countless ways to milk the system, and I am sure there are at least a couple honest ones who can help plug those gaps. Privatizing turns it into a for-profit venture, which of course only helps the billionaires who are running it, who will earn bonuses based on how much they can cut coverage, payment, salaries, and outsource everything possible. Capitalism has run amuck in this country, and corruption is so widespread and out in the open that it is everywhere to see. Lets hope the same misguided seniors who voted these teabagger wackos into office for fear of 'death panels' and the end of their precious and beloved medicare in the form of a public option, will wake up from their stupor and vote them out in 2012, before it is too late.

Patricia S.
Pat S7 years ago

It was a problem with Bush, but now it's been getting worse and worse. Need to do something about it asap! Check out what our national debt is!!

pat B.
pat B7 years ago

Show up a rally .

pat B.
pat B7 years ago

Medicare and medicaid WORKS. That is not good for the profit for corporations who fund their elections.

pat B.
pat B7 years ago

Guess they want grandma dead. That way they won't be a drain on the system. With the repugs it is all about profit and eliminating safety nets for our own citizens.
You have to remember that global corporations pay for our so called politicians now since Citizens United.Those politicians are now beholden to the corporations and the corporations agendas...NOT what is good for American citizens. And those same politicians are chafing at the bit for the time that their term is over (and with a huge pension for themselves AND their families) when they can work as a lobbyist and make a mil or two A YEAR.

Sharon Baumgardner
Sharon B7 years ago

They better watch what they do. There are an awful lot of us "baby boomesr" that depend on Medicare and Medicade. And there are so many things now Medicare and Medicade wont cover. So they better think long and hard before they start cutting. Maybe they better cut their salaries,and their pensions. They should have the same as us..not anything better.

Suzen R.
Suzen R7 years ago

"It is my sincere hope that this government shutdown will remove ALL of the Republicans currently in office during the next elections."