Scaring Seniors, Revisited

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) released his proposed 2013 budget yesterday and before the ink was dry, the left was attacking

it like vultures on a carcass. Ryan was being portrayed as the bogeyman of seniors’ concerns about Medicare. As part of his effort to control an out-of-control bureaucracy, his plan includes:

  • Increasing the Medicare eligibility age to 67.
  • No changes for seniors currently on Medicare.
  • Giving future Medicare recipients an alternative to the traditional program by allowing purchase of private insurance on the market with premium supports.

What is peculiar about the vociferous attacks on Rep. Ryan is that the left has been strangely silent about the Obama administration’s own planned Medicare cuts, while Ryan is being portrayed as the evil henchman trying to undo Medicare. Consider the Obama administration”s plans on chipping away at Medicare “as we know

it.” Plans from his 2013 budget include:

  • Increasing Part B and D deductibles for current and new Medicare enrollees beginning 2017.
  • Imposing home health care copayments for new beneficiaries beginning 2018.
  • Introducing surcharges on Part B premiums for first dollar coverage beginning in 2017.
  • Strengthening the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) to reduce long-term drivers of cost growth (this is the rationing board that will decide what treatments are cost-effective and who gets what).

Despite the premium increases and surcharges to seniors in Obama”s budget, it does not take the prize for any deficit reduction. Consider:

  • Ryan’s budget will reduce federal spending by $5.2 trillion more over 10 years than the Obama administration’s.
  • Ryan’s budget will reduce the growth of the deficit by about $3.3 trillion more over 10 years than the Obama administration’s.
  • Ryan’s budget will reduce the growth in debt held by the public to 61 percent of GDP in 2023, compared to the Obama administration’s CBO analysis of 96 percent of GDP.

So it appears that both budgets will implement changes to Medicare, but apparently one set of changes is better than the other as media reports would have it. Future Medicare recipients should be jumping for joy over premium increases and reductions in physician payments and limits to services, while they should be filled with doom and gloom over the idea of using premium support payments from the government to pick the type of plan they want. Readers, what is your take on this?



Comments (2)

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  1. Joe Barnett says:

    A defined benefit is a definite benefit, whereas today Medicare’s promises are vague, and therefore can be changed at will — the government’s will.

  2. Sterling Burnett says:

    If they want to really “cut” the deficit, they should simply cap the annual budget with now growth allowed for inflation for 10 or 20 years. The politician who proposes this can say “I’m not cutting anything. I’m just capping spending at todays levels which everyone agrees are unsustainable.”
    Reducing the rate of growth is not a cut.

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