Posts Tagged ‘seniors’

The Jackson Sun: Voters will reject GOP over needless Medicare cutbacks

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

The Jackson Sun opinion editor Tom Bohs recently took Republicans to task for their vote to radically change Medicare into a vulture voucher system. The Paul Ryan, budget wonks say, would increase the out-of-pocket cost of health care for seniors by more than $6,500 a year.

Sens. Bob Corker, Lamar Alexander voted for it. As did Reps. Phil Roe, Jimmy Duncan, Chuck Fleischmann, Scott DesJarlias, Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn and Stephen Fincher.

From The Jackson Sun:

Republicans shot themselves in the foot by proposing to end traditional Medicare and replace it with vouchers for private insurance. If they don’t drop this scheme, it will cost them dearly in the 2012 election cycle.

Not only would privatizing Medicare through a system of insurance premium vouchers wildly complicate the purchase of health insurance for senior citizens, it is unnecessary.

Not only would privatizing Medicare through a system of insurance premium vouchers wildly complicate the purchase of health insurance for senior citizens, it is unnecessary. Seniors already have private insurance options under Medicare through Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare supplement plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. The only thing the voucher system would take away is the government option for Part A (hospital) and Part B (doctor services) that seniors know and largely love — talk about biting the hand that votes for you.

Under the voucher plan proposed by Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, seniors would be allotted money they could spend on health insurance purchased through private insurance companies. The advantage, according to Ryan and other Republicans, is that people would be able to choose the health insurance that best suits their needs.

That is the biggest false hope I have ever heard perpetrated on old people. What is the best health insurance policy for anyone? The best policy is the one that pays the bills when you get sick without splitting hairs over whether a particular illness, procedure, service, doctor or medication is excluded in the fine print of the insurance contract.

It is a fallacy that different people have different health insurance needs. What health problem don’t you want coverage for? The idea that some people are in better health than others and don’t need as much health insurance is nonsense. No one can predict life’s illnesses and health mishaps, let alone those of old age. It would be like buying car insurance that only covered you on some days of the week.

The other reason Ryan’s approach to privatizing Medicare to save money surprises me is that it is unnecessary. The system is solvent for many years to come. Shortfalls after that easily can be addressed long before they materialize. Ryan is solving a problem that doesn’t exist, and making seniors and other voters angry in the process. He should focus on problems that are real and on the table right now such as the national debt, high unemployment, mortgage defaults and a host of social, military and international affairs challenges we face.

But the thing I find most disturbing about privatizing Medicare is that it complicates the last bastion of senior citizen comfort. People who are old, sick or near the end of life don’t want to be burdened with complicated insurance decisions. Can Republicans not let old people just finish out their years with peace of mind without a lot of rah-rah, take responsibility, every man for himself flag waving? All that’s fine when you’re young or 40 or 50 and still building your lifestyle and personal security. But when you are 70 or 80 or older, the last thing you need is a bunch of insurance companies trying to get their hands in your pocket.

The final problem with Ryan’s Medicare voucher scheme is that it might not – and I would hazard an educated guess it would not – be sufficient to purchase health insurance that would provide anywhere near the coverage afforded by Medicare. What would people do when their benefits ran out? Ryan doesn’t address that. Again, it would be every man for himself. Of course, there might still be Medicaid available to those brought to penury by uncovered medical expenses. But that only puts the burden on others, to say nothing of the emotional and psychological blow it would inflict on seniors.

Good grief. Medicare works. Leave it alone and find something to tinker with that really needs fixing. [Jackson Sun, 5/28/11]

FACTS & BACKGROUND:

 

REALITY: TENNESSEE’S ENTIRE REPUBLICAN U.S. HOUSE & SENATE DELEGATION VOTED FOR THE PAUL RYAN BUDGET

Tennessee Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander voted for Paul Ryan’s budget to privatize Medicare. [Senate.gov Roll Call Vote, 5/25/11]

Tennessee’s entire Republican delegation (Reps. Phil Roe, Jimmy Duncan, Chuck Fleischmann, Scott DesJarlais, Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn, Stephen Fincher) voted to turn Medicare into a voucher system. [U.S. House Clerk, April 15, 2011]

More than 1 million Tennesseans are enrolled in Medicare. [statehealthfacts.org, accessed April 15, 2011]


REALITY: REP. RYAN’S VOUCHER SYSTEM WOULD COST SENIORS THOUSANDS IN OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES

The Economist: Rep. Paul Ryan’s Plan Shifts The Burden Of Risk Onto Seniors By Only Delivering A Voucher For An Amount Ryan Thinks Ought To Be Enough For Health Care, Not Guaranteeing All Care. [Economist, 4/5/11]

Politifact: Rep. Paul Ryan’s Budget Plan Would Force The Average Senior Receiving Medicare To Pay $6,350 More Out-Of-Pocket For Health Care. [Politifact, 5/6/11]

Center for Economic Policy Research: A Person Born In 1957 At Age 65 Will Require An Additional $182,000 In Retirement Savings In Order To Purchase Private Insurance Rather Than Accept Coverage Through Medicare. [Center for Economic and Policy Research, “Letter to Rep. George Miller”]

 

REALITY: THE REPUBLICAN BUDGET ENDS MEDICARE AS WE KNOW IT

Wall Street Journal: “The [GOP Budget] Plan Would Essentially End Medicare.” [Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]

Los Angeles Times: “Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare Privatization Plan Increases Costs, Budget Office Says.” [Los Angeles Times, 4/8/11]

CBO: The Ryan Budget Plan Would Increase Debt In The First Ten Years. [TPM, 4/5/11]

The Fiscal Times: “The Big Winners” In The Republican Budget Would Be “High Income Earners And Corporations, Who Top Tax Rate Would Be Reduced From 35 To 25 Percent.” [Fiscal Times, 4/5/11]

 

REALITY: THE REPUBLICAN BUDGET RELIES ON “QUESTIONABLE ASSUMPTIONS” AND “FISHY FIGURES”

Washington Post: “The Ryan Budget Plan Relies On Dubious Assertions, Questionable Assumptions And Fishy Figures.” [Washington Post, 4/9/11]

National Journal: “Ryan Plan Pushes Optimism To The Outer Limits.” [National Journal, 4/5/11]

Tenn. Republicans Vote to End Medicare, Abandon 1 Million Tennesseans

Friday, April 15th, 2011

NASHVILLE – Chip Forrester, chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party, issued the following statement in response to the House of Representative’s vote today to end Medicare as a part of Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget:

“There are more than 1 million Tennesseans on Medicare, and 80 percent of them are over age 65. This budget shreds the contract that this country has with Tennessee seniors after a lifetime of work. We promised seniors that the cost of health care and long-term care would not bankrupt them and their families in their retirement. By ending Medicare, this plan will force seniors to pay more out of pocket and negotiate with private drug and insurance companies. By slashing Medicaid it takes away the last protection for seniors late in life.”

Tennessee’s Republican Congressional delegation voted unanimously in favor of passing the bill.

Facts

“House of Representatives Votes To End Medicare!” | Forbes.com | April 15, 2011

Tennessee’s Republican delegation votes to end Medicare | U.S. House Clerk | accessed April 15, 2011

Tennessee: Medicare Population Demographics | statehealthfacts.org | accessed April 15, 2011

 

ACT NOW TO PROTECT MEDICARE!!

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Excerpted from notice sent by Beth Uselton:

Your Medicare could be taken over by TennCare
On April 5, this Tuesday morning, the House Health and Human Resources sub-committee will vote on House Bill 0369, Health Care Compact, putting TennCare in charge of your Medicare. In a Compact there are no guarantees of benefits and coverage. It comes with a lick and a promise. “We have seen those promises before,” says Beth Uselton, “and over 300,000 Tennesseans lost their coverage under Governor Bredesen.”

If passed by the sub-committee and by the full House of Representatives, the bill would require Tennessee to join the Health Care Compact. The Compact would withdraw Tennessee from all federal health care programs, including Medicare, and put TennCare in charge.
— ——————————————————————-
Call members of the House Health Sub-committee
– this weekend and again on Monday –
Ask them to vote against the Compact bill
State Legislators leave Nashville on Thursday at noon and return on Monday afternoon. Members of the House sub-committee need to hear from you.
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“Good God, Tennessee can’t even manage TennCare, how do they think they can manage the rest? Please oh please leave my medicare alone!”
That is a comment left by a reader of the Knoxville News-Sentinal after the paper ran this article explaining the bill and its effect in Tennessee. The reader has cause for concern. If this bill is passed, TennCare would take over the administration of Medicare for over one million seniors and people with disabilities in Tennessee.
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What is the Health Care Compact?
Interstate compacts create multi-state agreements to address problems such as transportation issues, water rights or environmental protection. Compact agreements, which have to be passed by state legislatures, then approved by Congress and signed by the President, override federal law.

Proponents of the state Health Care Compact are using it as a political strategy to try and opt out of the new federal health care law and exempt Tennessee from the requirements of it, including the protections, benefits and new rights to health care afforded to Tennesseans. This strategy is being backed by the Tea Party and pushed by a new front group, the Health Care Compact Alliance.

Seniors have concerns! And, for good reasons!