Medicare on the Campaign Trail

Medicare. Mention the word at a dinner party, and you will engender some of the most passionate and diverse opinions available to public debate. Google it and you get 106 million results. Yet both presidential candidates are attempting to reduce it to a few sound bites. I am not going to attempt to summarize the Medicare program; last time I did that for a candidate it took me several thousand words of jargon that amounted to less excitement than a party with your in-laws extended family. All you need to know is this: Mitt Romney says Barack Obama is lying, and Barack Obama says Mitt Romney is lying. The irony in it is that they are both right.

It aint right.” Four years ago that was President Obama’s stance on an $800 billion cut to Medicare. Now, Obama proposes a cut from Medicare that will add 8 more solvent years to the program. At $716 billion, that is the most expensive, and hypocritical Band-Aid in history. President Obama claims it to be a fix, that the money is targeting waste and fraud, and that retirees will not lose any coverage or benefits. What he does not say is that it will be used to pay for the massive spending that will come from Obamacare; not a penny will cut the deficit.

There are more secrets President Obama is keeping from the public. When he tells you that the Romney/Ryan voucher plan will end Medicare as we know it he is right. He just conveniently leaves out the fact that Obamacare already ended Medicare as we knew it. Nearly 25% of all Medicare beneficiaries belong to a program called Medicare Advantage. Obamacare effectively ends Medicare advantage, or at very least, takes away its advantage. As many as half of the beneficiaries on Medicare advantage may lose their coverage. Currently, Medicare advantage programs are run through private insurance companies to provide Medicare coverage, as well as additional coverage not included in original Medicare, often at a lower cost to the beneficiary. Under Obamacare the federal government would presumably replace private health care companies and standardize Medicare coverage nationwide, rather than at local and regional levels as private insurance companies do. Maybe this is not true, but Patriotslog rarely sees the government manage anything efficiently and effectively. Either way, ending the program 25% of seniors are a part of certainly does not keep Obama’s promise of not touching medicare…then again, I suppose it does not touch medicare parts A and B—what is refered to as origonal medicare. The problem is many retirees require more than that, and if it is only the basic origonal Medicare that will remain “untouched”, President Obama is being very deceptive, whether intentional or not.

The fact is Mitt Romney is right. President Obama is drastically changing Medicare, and taking $716 billion from it to try to cover the Obamacare expenses. However, President Obama is also right; the Romney/Ryan plan transforms Medicare, at least for those who want it to. Romney/Ryan propose exactly the opposite of President Obama; rather than taking the private part of Medicare and giving it to the government, they propose taking the government part of Medicare and giving it to the private market in the form of health care vouchers.

Mitt Romney insists that we need to cut Medicare, or at least reform it, in order to keep it solvent and available for future generations. Then, to prove how fickle and cowardly politicians are, he insists that he will keep the $716 billion that President Obama will cut. “SOUND THE ALARM!! We need to cut Medicare expenses; but I promise I’m not doing that!” The Paul Ryan plan would cut Medicare, but Romney says if elected he will not. Instead, in order to keep as many votes as possible, Romney does a tip toe waltz around the issue, so delicate that Fred Astaire would even be impressed (I understand I am probably one of the few people under 40 who knows who Fred Astaire is, so if you younger readers would like to become more cultured, here is his biography (-: ). Romney is proposing a voucher plan, a plan that would send every Medicare enrollee a check, and then have them find coverage on the private market. The dollar amount being tossed around by the media is that it will cost seniors an extra $6400 per year; but here is the kicker; nobody has to choose that plan. This begs the obvious question that Mitt Romney has apparently overlooked: if it will cost extra money, and a person can choose to stay on original Medicare, why would they change? It seems there is more to it than we are being told. Maybe everyone will eventually be forced to use the vouchers, maybe medical costs will fall (I was laughing as I typed that), maybe there is another aspect we are not yet aware of, Maybe Mitt Romney will pay for the extra cost with his own personal fortune (I was laughing even harder as I typed that), or maybe the stat that it will cost an extra $6,400 per year is a flat lie. Research suggests that it is, but why would Romney propose a voucher plan that would cost the government an equal amount of money? Unless there is a huge shift in public sentiment, it does not seem likely that privatizing Medicare will be profitable when original Medicare is available.

    The most interesting thing about the entire debate is that the American public does not side with either candidate. Polls show that a majority of Americans support keeping Medicare as is, and would rather see taxes raised to cover benefits than to see benefits cut. However, there is a possible solution. A majority in a similar poll showed that people would rather raise the initial age of benefits from 65 to a higher number than cut benefits to keep it solvent. When Medicare began, life expectancy was under 70; it is now around 80. That is a decade of extra benefits to every person, and with the baby boomers swarming into social security, that is hundreds of thousands, if not millions of extra payout years. Shrinking that number could be the one essential element to keeping Medicare alive. If only somebody would tell our presidential candidates.

 

–Matt Young

27 August 2012

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About patriotslog

I am studying to achieve a double major in political science and journalism from the University of Kentucky. I am married to a wonderful woman named Sierra. I am starting this blog because I feel the political climate in Washington is carving deep canyons for our children to climb out of. Our representatives, on both sides of the isle, do not represent us, they represent the lobbyists.This blog is not to give answers, but to make people think. I believe the more we think about our ideas the better they will become; as opposed to becoming more and more intrenched in far left or right wing brainwash, where it seems nobody thinks anymore. I hope y'all enjoy.

Posted on August 27, 2012, in Patriotslog Articles, Politics, Poverty and Welfare, Taxes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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