The Death of the Death of Medicare

Since the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed the so-called Ryan plan to voucherize Medicare, the public outcry has been almost universal. Democrats, independents, even Republicans confronted Republican Representatives at Congressional town hall meetings with objections to the plan.

As a result of the backlash, Republicans sent a letter to President Obama demanding that Democrats stop criticizing their plan because Democrats are scaring people – an odd request coming from the people who ran a true scare campaign against the Affordable Care Act by stating that it would result in “death panels” for seniors. At any rate, telling the truth is not a scare tactic, and the truth is that the Ryan budget plan would end Medicare as we know it.

As economist Paul Krugman states in his opinion piece for The New York Times:

If you replace a system that actually pays seniors’ medical bills with an entirely different system, one that gives seniors vouchers that won’t be enough to buy adequate insurance, you’ve ended Medicare. Calling the new program ‘Medicare’ doesn’t change that fact.

He points to a study by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office which shows that, under the Ryan proposal, seniors will be forced to pay an astonishing 61 percent of their health care costs by 2022. And 68 percent of health care costs by 2030.

Here’s the CBO graph from Krugman’s piece which illustrates the study:

Looking at it another way, under the Ryan proposal, 15 cents of every health dollar would go to pay for the administrative costs of insurance companies as compared to the 3 cents needed for our current government-administered Medicare plan.

Thankfully, it appears the Republican attempt to end Medicare is dead for now. Nevertheless, Republicans say they will bring the plan back at a later date.

Maybe they should be reminded of a statement by one of their own past leaders. In a letter to his older brother, the Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote:

Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are [a] few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid. — President Dwight D. Eisenhower to Edgar Newton Eisenhower, Presidential Papers, Document #1147; November 8, 1954

Today, that splinter group consists of political organizations masquerading as “grassroots” movements funded by large corporations and billionaires.

One such organization is the 60 Plus Association. To celebrate passage of the Ryan plan in the House of Representatives, 60 Plus sent out a postcard asking voters to call Congressional Representatives like Paul Gosar and thank them for “saving” Medicare.

Click here to see 60 Plus’s Gosar postcard.

As a 501 (c) (4), 60 Plus doesn’t have to disclose the identities of its donors. But, according to the Washington Post, the organization received an unrestricted educational grant in 2002 from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, also known as PhRMA. 60 Plus runs ads in support of Republican candidates. Moreover, it’s headed by James L. Martin who, according to his official biography, “helped to organize and direct several advocacy groups including the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC).” And the national spokesman for 60 Plus is 1950s pop star Pat Boone, who has written that “liberalism is like a cancer-causing virus.”

Despite its political leanings, 60 Plus describes itself as “a bipartisan organization that represents the interest of seniors.” Hmmm…maybe the organization should consult a dictionary for the definition of bipartisanship.

Bipartisanship is exemplified by the near universal public opposition to the Ryan plan.

This entry was posted in Arizona Politics, Medicare, National Politics, U.S. Budget and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.