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Democrats distort GOP Medicare plan

By CALVIN WOODWARD
June 2, 2011

House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Democrats are distorting the fundamentals of a Republican plan to reshape Medicare, falsely accusing the GOP of pushing a proposal that tells the elderly “you’re on your own” with health care and that lets insurers deny coverage to the sick.

Medicare always pushes hot buttons with voters. Both parties know this and spare no effort to exploit the issue, with truth as the frequent casualty. That’s the case now as Democrats go after a far-reaching plan introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and largely embraced by congressional Republicans.

The new chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., led the charge this week in an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” The DNC and its Republican counterpart are the primary money-raisers in politics and often temples of exaggeration as they convert controversy into cash for the campaigns.

A look at Wasserman Schultz’s statements and how they compare with the facts:

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WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: “They would take the people who are younger than 55 years old today and tell them: `You know what, you’re on your own. Go and find private health insurance in the health care insurance market; we’re going to throw you to the wolves and allow insurance companies to deny you coverage and drop you for pre-existing conditions. We’re going to give you X amount of dollars, and you figure it out.'”

THE FACTS: First, the Ryan plan explicitly forbids insurance companies from denying coverage to anyone who qualifies for Medicare, including those who have pre-existing illnesses. Second, it does not merely send money to the elderly and leave them to their own devices in arranging for medical care.

The plan calls for Medicare to stay the same for people 55 and older. But starting in 2022, new beneficiaries would get their health insurance from competing private insurers instead of from the government. The government would offer subsidies to pay for the coverage and set standards that insurers must follow. One condition, says the plan, is that participating insurers “agree to offer insurance to all Medicare beneficiaries, to avoid cherry-picking and ensure that Medicare’s sickest and highest-cost beneficiaries receive coverage.”

Nor would the government merely send “X amount of dollars” to the elderly and let them figure out whether they can afford coverage. The subsidies would go to the plan selected by the beneficiary. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, in analyzing the plan, said it would not let insurers charge more to sick people. Premiums would be the same for everyone of the same age.

The Ryan plan raises plenty of questions about costs to the elderly over time and the adequacy of care. The Congressional Budget Office said future retirees would pay more under Ryan’s plan than if they went into traditional Medicare. By 2030, a typical 65-year-old would be paying two-thirds of his or her health costs.

But Wasserman Schultz and some other Democrats who accuse the GOP of wanting to “end Medicare” have skipped past the complicated crux of that debate, instead attacking provisions that do not exist.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press

5 Responses to Democrats distort GOP Medicare plan

  1. Sailcat

    June 2, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    The debate is slimy.

  2. dmk44

    June 2, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    For those of you who support Ryan’s voucher plans, I want you to open your eyes. I am 66 and was in a company health plan. The rates for this year for myself and my wife(60) for a plan went from $10,000 to $26,000, due to the fact we had a small group and the insurance company can charge premiums based on age-irregardless of past medical history. Incidentally, we are both very healthy. . I now shifted to Medicare. If you think seniors will get cheap insurance and the cost of it will be covered by Ryan’s voucher plan–guess again. So if you are less than 55 and have to give up Medicare, you will be screwed by the big Insurance companies who will have seniors at their mercy under the Ryan fiasco. . Save Medicare!! Ryan is not telling it like it is. .

  3. freecitizen

    June 2, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Politics is ALWAYS first and foremost about ME,MYSELF and I.

  4. woody188

    June 2, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    I wouldn’t worry about it. We’ll be insolvent way before 2022 and no one will be getting any coverage from the government then.

  5. Pondering It All

    June 2, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    “By 2030, a typical 65-year-old would be paying two-thirds of his or her health costs.”

    But that’s AFTER that person already paid hundreds of thousands into Medicare. A 55 year old (who is supposedly not going to get Medicare) has already paid into the plan for about 35 years! He paid into it so his health care would be secure after retirement. What does he get for all that money?

    There is ZERO security with Ryan’s voucher plan because the insurance companies can set their policy premiums beyond a level that most people could pay. (As long as they make it the same premium for all.) Anyone who can’t afford this year’s premiums can just go home and die: That’s the Republican plan in a nut shell. Ryan’s plan is like term life insurance, while Medicare is like whole life. Term is a lot cheaper, but offers no long term security.

    Are you sure that’s what you want? Don’t forget that a few bad breaks can deplete your retirement resources very quickly. Most bankruptcies are the direct result of medical bills, even for people who thought they had insurance. Passing laws you think will screw “the other guy” have a way of coming around to bite you in the ass!