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Tuesday, May 31, 2011
ConWeb Editor Smackdown on Medicare
Topic: The ConWeb

CNSNews.com editor Terry Jeffrey mounted a major defense of Rep. Paul Ryan's proposed changes to Medicare in his May 18 column. Insisting that "Ryan's Medicare reform plan is not radical change," Jeffrey wrote:

First, it would not in any way impact Medicare for people 55 or over today. They would keep the current system.

Second, younger Americans would have more than a decade to get ready for the new system.

[...]

This does not get America back to 1965, when seniors were not dependent on the government for health care. They will still be dependent.

But it will introduce a little market discipline into the system, where instead of having the government ration care -- like they do in completely socialistic systems -- people will have some latitude to pick and choose what type of plan they want to purchase.

Not so eager to defend Ryan's Medicare plan, however, is Newsmax editor Christopher Ruddy, who in his May 26 column certainly does not agree with Jeffrey that this is "not radical change":

Unfortunately, not only does the Ryan Medicare reform package fail to provide the safeguards that, to my mind, are essential if we are to fulfill our nation’s commitment to seniors, but also it actually proposes that the current Medicare program be replaced with a new “premium support” voucher system for all those currently under age 55.

Today, Americans in the Medicare program are able to get basic coverage, which they can supplement with Medicare Advantage or private health insurance if they choose. But under the Ryan plan, this system will end in 2021 and all Americans who turn 65 that year and after will be given vouchers to purchase health insurance on their own.

If this plan is enacted into law, Medicare eventually will become fully privatized after the current program, which will remain in place for all those age 55 and over, is phased out.

An obvious question immediately arises when considering Ryan’s plan: Will the dollar amount of the vouchers enable the seniors of tomorrow to buy a level of health care that today’s Medicare beneficiaries enjoy? The answer to that is no.

According to the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the Ryan plan, “Beneficiaries would . . . face higher premiums in the private market for a package of benefits similar to that currently provided by Medicare. Moreover, the value of the voucher would grow significantly more slowly than CBO expects that Medicare spending per enrollee would grow under current law.”

Simply put, the Ryan plan will cut Medicare spending dramatically by reducing the level of care that the program provides to current beneficiaries. It effectively shifts more of the financial burden onto the shoulders of the private sector and forces individual seniors to pay more out of pocket for their healthcare than they do today.

Ruddy goes on to assert that "Congressional Republicans should take a common-sense approach to reform," adding: "In my view, rampant fraud, abuse, and waste have been the hallmarks of the Medicare system. It is poorly administered. If Congress and the states worked diligently in reducing these excesses, the program would work effectively."

Media Research Center chief Brent Bozell, meanwhile, is just making stuff up. In a May 27 appearance on "Fox & Friends," Bozell claimed that Ryan's plan provides "a 70 percent increase in Medicare," while "Obama is taking $500 billion out of Medicare." In fact, Ryan's plan keeps Obama's cuts and increases out-of-pocket costs for seniors.


Posted by Terry K. at 11:45 AM EDT

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