Paul Ryan’s Medicare Swindle

Robert Parry in In These Times examines how Paul Ryan’s budget test would turn healthcare for the elderly into one big free-market death panel.

Ryan’s plan privatizes Medicare, replacing it with premium support for insurance companies. That means the government would kick in a fixed amount of money towards insurance premiums for Americans over age 65. Ryan also wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which requires insurers to cover people with preexisting conditions. Ryan’s plan doesn’t guarantee that Americans over 65 could get insurance in the first place. Even if they could find an insurer willing to take them, there is no reason to believe that premium support would cover more than part of the cost.

Maybe the plan is to save money by pricing most seniors out of health insurance entirely. If you can’t get insurance in the first place, you don’t qualify for premium support.

Mitt Romney and health care

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney kicked off the exploratory phase of his campaign this week, Lynda Waddington reports in the Iowa Independent. Ironically, this prospective frontrunner is best known for bringing Obama-style health care reform to Massachusetts.

Aswini Anburajan of TAPPED wonders whether Romney’s record on health care will hurt him in the primary. Repealing health care reform is one of the major themes for the Republican Party, and Romney is the architect of a similar system. However, Anburajan notes, campaigning to all but abolish Medicare hasn’t hurt GOP Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan’s political status, even though seniors are a big part of the GOP base..

Part of the reason why Ryan hasn’t felt a backlash from seniors is that his plan preserves Medicare for people who are currently over 55 and will only decimate the program for younger people.

Demonizing pregnant users

At RH Reality Check, Lynn Paltrow takes the New York Times to task for a sensationalized story about children born to women who are dependent upon prescription painkillers. Paltrow notes that the same alarmist language was used to hype a non-existent epidemic of crack babies in the 1980s. The evidence suggests that the impact of drug use during pregnancy on the developing fetus is relatively minor compared to the effects of other factors that are correlated with drug use, such as poverty, poor nutrition and lack of prenatal care.

If we assume there’s a clear causal relationships between using drugs and hurting babies, it’s easier to lay all the blame on the mother. The truth, Paltrow argues, is much more complicated. Drug use is just part of a constellation of unhealthy factors that conspire to give the children of poor and marginalized women a worse start in life.

Positing a distinct syndrome caused by drug abuse is often a first step towards stigmatizing, and even criminalizing, poor women who give birth to sick children.

Hungry women and children

Speaking of threats to the health of poor women and their children, the new budget deal slashes $500 million from nutrition programs, with the Women Infants and Children (WIC) food support program at the USDA taking the hardest hit, Tom Laskawy reports for Grist.

If you get your meals through an umbilical cord, the Republicans want to protect you; but if you have to eat groceries, you’re on your own.

Big Pharma hikes HIV drug prices

Elizabeth Lombino at reports that more than 8,000 people nationwide are on the waiting list for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), a government program that helps poor people living with HIV/AIDS pay for medications. Lombino notes that even as the ranks of patients who can’t cover their drugs continues to swell, pharmaceutical companies continue to raise their prices. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is calling upon pharmaceutical companies to lower prices to help grapple with what has come to be known as the ADAP crisis. So far, it’s been to little effect.

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

Happy Anniversary, Romneycare!

The Republicans’ War on Women


Photo courtesy of bluewinx15 via flickr
By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger


Teresa W.
Teresa W2 years ago

Alice is right.

Teresa W.
Teresa W2 years ago

Is anyone surprised?

lyn L.
l L6 years ago

The point is paul ryan and his plan is not wanted by senior citizens, own it. We don't like lying republicans or anything they are about. Republicans/they are for and only for corporate america. They are not for any seniors. They want to throw grandma under the bus for their corporate friends again and again and again. Anything they offer is a trick and it's profit margin is only for corporations. They prove this by their refusal to tax corporations and continously have the bleeding attitute towards americans. repubicans bottom line is that they are not on the side of any americans now or ever. The religous right and corporate religion are their backers and working against the interest of americans for the corporations. Need a great falling away from the religious right and corporate religion who are locked in with the republican party. good luck.

Alice H.
Alice H6 years ago

Throwing the poor out of medical care is not the answer.
a) it is evil
b) poor people will end up in the hospital emergency care -- their care will be worse and it will cost more.

Tana Williams
Tana Williams6 years ago

"Crack babies" have been proven to be a ploy whereby researchers, hospitals and doctors could profit from the misery of others. I should know, I had one and she never had any problems. I was very happy when researchers began to refute the idea, because it sounded like crap to me.

Charles Y.
Charles Yheaulon6 years ago

Dan B, I never have and never will. If we could get our meds from Canadia we could save money for ourselves and for Medacare,......isen't that what repubs. want?

Liberty G.
Liberty Goodwin6 years ago

"Carole Dunn said: The idea of forcing seniors to go out into the private marketplace for health insurance is ludicrous. Just out of curiosity, I checked out rates for myself at the age of 64. The best deal I heard was a premium of $600 a month and an annual deductible of $5,000. If you can afford that, God bless you."

Gosh, folks, the Obama bill does the same thing - throws people out onto the "mercy" of the insurance companies. The "affordable" health care act forces people to pay premiums to the insurance companies, whether they can afford it or not. Don't talk to me of "subsidies" - they are always too small and only for the poorest. Those of modest means are always thrown to the wolves. And, even if you can wring out the premium costs, good luck with the deductibles and co-pays,
as Carole found.

We need to have consumer health care (not 'insurance") cooperatives, state or regional, where we make the decisions and there are no middlemen to get rich on our hard-earned money. We also need the options of alternative & complementary medicine enjoyed by so many in other countries - resulting in a mix for less money and better health results than our allopathic/Big Pharma monopoly system..

April Thompson
April Thompson6 years ago

Paul Ryan cango to hell!

lyn L.
l L6 years ago

about allotted monies in plan benefits, when i pay my co pay it is not plan benefits and should not be subtracted as if the plan totally paid for the medicine, when it didn't. In the plans comes the next phase of the con game and is how we get into the gap and that is another story. Everytime they go to fix something; they get perks and we lose something that may make life comfortable. Now here comes the fix- again and in 9 years we are going broke. sure right. They can say anything but I notice no cponversation that we can shore this up. Don't hear any of that. I am a dem and I talk straight talk, even to them. I love my dems and like our mission statrement but this can't keep going on, sucking up to the reps and playing their games.

lyn L.
l L6 years ago

ctd: When they sought to fix it again the drug plan had an program or insurance allotment that came with the package. The way they credit your co-pay with the insurance allotment; they subtract both your co-pay and insurance payment and the monies that are alloted are much less. I think that our co-pays should not be subtracted from the balance of our allotment. Todays dem being interviewed revealed, the overhead costs by insurance companies cuts into the plan itself. another reason the fix it -people are always around with their fix- it m/o. Now people who make decisions about healthcare can be deadly. A patient working with their dr should be the way to go. Today I learned that our president's plan about medicare, I don't agree with and why. He thinks that it is possible that primary physicians know everything perfectly about the entire boody and you don't need specialist. Not smart. His take on it Hospitals should keep patients in the hospital and fix the problem the first time and stop the re-admissions that cause higher costs. Well to shoot that down, no insurance company is going to pay for long stays. Long stays gives opportunites to contract other diseases like pneumonias and mersa's and staph infections and bedsores compounding the situations. A patient has no more decision controls in what happens to them by his standard, Even if/when mal practice may be a factor. Now they want to fix everything --again-- Now the panic is on and we are down this rabbit hole in their