The Big Lie: Romney and Ryan’s plan to cut government spending and turn Medicare into a premium support plan will not affect anyone 55 or older.
The Truth: Both Romney and Ryan have proposed drastic cuts that would immediately affect seniors by raising drug costs, eliminating preventive care, and threatening the Medicaid coverage that millions of seniors rely upon.
This weekend Paul Ryan will take his 78-year-old mom to the largest senior living facility in the world to defend his plan for Medicare. It’s a plan so good Ryan would never force it on his mother or ask anyone over 54 to try it. Don’t worry seniors! says Ryan. This plan won’t affect you. You’ll get the Medicare you love and people 54 or younger will pay for it until your last breath from a government-subsidized respirator.
It’s an insane argument. You sure love your Medicare, so help us turn it into something you’d never want for people younger than you.
Republicans have figured out something very odd about the American electorate. Voters, at least in polls and focus groups, hate the idea of government-run health care almost as much as they love Medicare. So first the GOP attacked the President as a socialist — and a proponent of government health care — and then they turned to attacking him for trying to hurt government-run Medicare. You can’t trust that socialist with your socialized insurance!
They made this argument even as the Affordable Care Act added years to the solvency of Medicare, along with new prescription drug and preventive care benefits.
This tortured logic only makes sense to people who are paid to believe it and perhaps to seniors who are desperate to keep what they have. But the fact is that it’s based on a lie.
The cuts that Romney and Ryan are proposing will have an immediate effect on people over 55 the day they begin putting their policies into effect. How bad will that effect become? We can’t know because the Romney campaign refuses to put their actual plan on paper. They know doing so would be suicidal. But here’s what we know for sure anyway.
On day one, millions of seniors on Medicare will be paying $250 more a year for drug coverage. Free preventative care will be gone along with the savings the President negotiated from providers. As a result, the Medicare you love will only have four more years of solvency, meaning drastic cuts will be imminent. Worried doctors may begin opting out of the program. If you believe Mitt Romney, that’s what he’ll give you on day one.
Soon Medicaid will be capped and sent to the states. Millions of seniors who rely on Medicaid for their Medicare will be forced to come up with money for basic care.
Medicaid pays for up to one-third of all nursing home care in this country. Those no longer eligible for nursing home coverage will be forced to live with their families who can’t handle their care or even forced out on the streets. It’s estimated that 50 percent of the Americans who are on dialysis get some help from Medicaid. If that funding were cut, the effects on staffing and servicing would be immediate. Even seniors who need dialysis and aren’t on Medicaid will be affected. This would happen early in Romney’s first term.
In 2014, the millions of uninsured Americans aged 55-64 about to receive affordable or free health care thanks to the Affordable Care Act will be out of luck. Not only will they not receive that coverage, but they also won’t have access to the state marketplaces that make choosing care simple. They will be denied care because of preexisting conditions — meaning that the patients Medicare receives will be sicker and more desperate for care as they reach 65, or wherever Romney and the GOP set the new eligibility age.
When the actual voucher plan goes into effect, private insurers will poach the healthiest seniors, weakening whatever is left of traditional Medicare under Romney’s plan. Seniors then will be forced to pay more than $6,000 a year for what seniors get now–forcing them to chose between seeing a doctor or their grandkids. The program will lose its power to negotiate decent rates and the costs of current senior care will be passed on to Americans who were under 54 in 2012. For the seniors still on original Medicare, the one-time Medicare guarantee will become a hollow promise that doesn’t have the strength of the once powerful program to keep it operating efficiently. Doctors will stop accepting the plan and options will dwindle away like the program itself.
Basically, we have one health care system in America that really works and consistently keeps costs low: Medicare. Romney and Ryan will begin chipping away at that from day one. That’s their promise.
Here’s something to remember: When you’re looking for someone to save Medicare, don’t vote for the party that never wanted it in the first place and has tried to kill it ever since.
Image credit: AP Photo/Charles Dharapa