The Republican budget ends Medicare as we know it

May 4, 2011

Lois Capps

OPINION By CONGRESSWOMAN LOIS CAPPS

The federal budget deficit is a big problem, one that must be addressed to shore up our long term economic future.The issue is not whether we reduce the deficit, but how we do it.

The latest flavor of the month in this debate is the so-called “Ryan Budget” which House Republicans passed, in a partisan vote, last week.

The Republican budget has a lot of problems. For example, despite the $4.3 trillion in cuts it calls for, two-thirds of which are for programs helping low and moderate income citizens, the plan would barely reduce the deficit in the next ten years. That’s probably because the plan also calls for $4.2 trillion in tax cuts, which would go disproportionately to the wealthiest among us. In fact, most of the deficit reduction the plan claims actually comes from an accounting gimmick involving war funding.

But the most controversial proposal is probably the plan to end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher program. This would be a huge mistake.

The first problem? Seniors wouldn’t be guaranteed health care under this plan. Instead, starting in 2022, seniors would be given a voucher for a fixed amount of money to partly pay for a private insurance plan.  But there is no guarantee of coverage.  And there is no guarantee the voucher would ensure a senior has the kind of coverage she has come to expect from Medicare. None.

The second problem? According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), this voucher would cover less than half of the cost of the benefits individuals receive in today’s Medicare. In fact, CBO estimates that average out-of-pocket costs for seniors would double –  from $6,000 to $12,000 – while the government’s share would actually drop. Moreover, seniors’ share of costs would increase even more over time because the voucher’s value would not rise as fast as health insurance premiums.

In fact, limiting the voucher’s value is how the Republican plan reduces costs to the federal government – it simply shifts the health care costs to Medicare beneficiaries, people who often live on modest, fixed incomes. It does nothing address rising health care costs and actually repeals efforts currently underway to do just that.

Another problem? The Republican budget repeals health care reform and its protections to ensure a senior can’t be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition, the ban on co-pays for preventive services, and the closing of the dreaded “donut hole.”

The CBO is clear about what would happen under the Republican budget voucher plan: some seniors will forgo insurance all together, while others won’t get coverage because plans are too expensive or they don’t cover particular services.  Ironically, these problems – access and cost – are the reasons that Medicare was started in the first place!

Before Medicare, seniors were America’s most likely group to be uninsured—barely 14% of them had health insurance coverage.  Before Medicare, almost one-third of all seniors were in poverty—and countless others would have been, if not for large sacrifices borne by their families. Without Medicare’s guarantee of coverage, many seniors needed to make a horrible choice—go to the doctor or put food on the table.

Medicare put an end to that by providing guaranteed access to quality, affordable care for all seniors.  It is responsible for keeping millions of our parents and grandparents out of poverty, giving them a little peace of mind after a lifetime of work. And it has freed up their adult children to invest in the future of their own children, instead of having to worry about whether or not their parents will get the health care they need.

Medicare is a remarkable success story, one that has helped all Americans. Yes, we know it has its problems and they must be addressed. But the overall goal of the program is just as important today as it was when the program began:  guaranteeing seniors access to affordable, quality health care.

The Republican plan to privatize Medicare ends that guarantee. Seniors will pay more for health insurance – much more – than they do today, if they can get coverage at all. Some will get substandard coverage and some won’t be able to afford a policy at all.

Forty years ago, we promised as a nation that health care for seniors would be guaranteed.  The Republican voucher proposal breaks that promise. It’s the wrong way to fix our deficit problem.


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WiseGuy

If more people followed Lois Capps’ lead, the United States would not be in the financial mess it is currently. Ms Capps voted AGAINT the unnecessary and horrendously costly war against Iraq. She has also supported increased regulation of Wall Street to prevent the kinds of fraud and scams that has ripped off trillions of dollars and enriched crooks.


Lois Capps is wise and knows what she is doing and her power in Congress continues to rise. We should all hope she is willing to serve in Congress for a long, long time. We need MORE politicians like Lois Capps who has served honestly and without scandal and continues to work hard trying to protect the interests of her constituents.


Thank God for Lois Capps!


WiseGuy

Lois Capps is correct (as usual.)


A medical voucher system creates another avenue for fraud and another level of bureaucracy. It would cost tax payers dearly. The people who proposed this are either unwise or expect to personally profit somehow, at taxpayer’s expense.


TheRazor

Medicare definitely needs to be fixed, but eliminating it outright would be detrimental to our society. The Ryan plan, which Republicans are now starting to back away from — because even they realize it’s a problem — would provide “vouchers” for buy insurance in the private market. What Ryan plan supporters are advocating is essentially leaving middle class homeowners and seniors to throw themselves at the mercy of the private insurance industry with no guarantee of adequate coverage or any coverage at all.


At the same time, I can understand that Medicare is a huge part of the federal budget, and it’s also a huge problem. I think that Medicare cuts should be made with a scalpel, not an axe. Congresswoman Capps has not proposed any alternative solutions that could reduce the deficit. I would love to hear some ideas from our legislators — ideas that are practical for this country, that is.


Maxfusion

Please address the real problems Lois. Welfare, an out of control bureaucracy, and illegal immigration. That’s why costs are so high. The producers are fed up. Fix it or we will, and rest assured, it won’t be pretty.


Typoqueen

Wrong. Medicare has nothing to do with Welfare but welfare is a mess and so is Medicare. Illegal imm. doesn’t effect the Ryan Bill or Medical. Medical needs fixing but not at the expense of throwing our seniors out like their used garbage. Clean up/fix what we have, don’t get rid of it.

.Illegal immigrants pay into SS and they pay taxes that they never collect on so technically they are paying our bills.


easymoney

Excuse me but illegals are mostly paid under the table in the construction industry and I was in direct competetion with many who hired them.

All of our entitlements need an overhaul but I do not seeing any legislators jumping up and dealing with it, especially not lois capps.

AndIi certainly do not want to throw the seniors out with bath water, as I am a card carrying AARP member.


Typoqueen

There are some small under the table construction co. that hire and pay under the table but not the bigger reputable companies. There is too much to lose for a contractor to pay under the table. But I know where you’re coming from, some in our line of business are forced to lower thier bids because of that issue. Yes there are some small unlicensed contractors that do that but much more that don’t. Legit contractors don’t pay under the table. The majority of illegals are farm workers (I believe) and they definitely pay taxes and SS and they don’t’ collect on the SS. On the other hand something needs to be done with the illegal issue and I do believe that they put a strain on the system but I don’t believe it’s as much as an issue as most of you do. Now days with this economy there are just as many if not more Anglos not paying thier med. bills. I read that most illegals pay thier med bills as they’re afraid of not paying them and that they pay cash on the spot.


OnTheOtherHand

You’re right on the money with this one Typoqueen.


While some illegals do get paid under the table with no taxes paid, a lot more use phony SSA IDs to get “legitimate” jobs and pay SSA and Medicare Taxes with no realistic expectation that they will ever get the benefits. In other words there are actually helping to keep SSA and Medicare from going under.


You are also right about them straining the system in other ways (welfare, education, justice system) and we do need to address those problems. They also drive down the cost of labor by working for less than legal citizens are willing to do. This puts a big strain on blue collar workers which is not overcome by the lowered prices we pay for services and products.


But the overall effect is that they aren’t quite as big of a drain on the country as some people claim. Good Post


srichison

Medicare has nothing to do with welfare? Oh, really? What the hell – just eliminate it, then. Obviously no one who gets it needs it (that would be welfare, wouldn’t it?). Just typical social engineering rhetoric since welfare is a dirty word these days. Just because some of us are seniors doesn’t mean we are needy.


Typoqueen

I’m not sure if you’re referring to me but if so then I don’t know what you’re talking about. Welfare isn’t the same as Medicare, different funds different policies, completely different. The topic isn’t about Welfare. Personally I’m not for eliminating either. Welfare isn’t a dirty word to me, I’ve been lucky to not need it but like Medicare I’m glad they’re there if I do need them (although I’m pretty sure that I will need Medicare one day).


WiseGuy

Medicare could use some refinement—including greater scrutiny to eliminate fraud and the criminals that prey upon the system—but the basic concept is a very good one. We simply have to work to make it the best system possible and not fall prey to all the selfish and pessimistic sentiment that wants to destroy a system that helps the most needy and suffering in our nation.


Americans, if they work together in the spirit of love, can make miracles happen on a daily basis. Helping our fellow man is one of the most valuable things a person can do for himself and others.


slomike

From the May 4 Wall Street Journal Washington Wire.


“EmailPrint


+ More

Text

By Patrick O’Connor


Republicans have some selling to do.


Changes to Medicare and Medicaid remain wildly unpopular and more than two-thirds of registered voters want to repeal Bush-era tax cuts for households that make more than $250,000 a year, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll.


More than twice as many voters oppose efforts to change Medicare than those who favor limiting benefits under the popular health-care program for seniors. And a distinct majority opposes new limits on Medicaid, the federal-state health program for the poor.


What’s worse for the GOP, the numbers don’t change much when voters were told how much federal spending Medicare and Medicaid consume.”


WiseGuy

Lois Capps continues to be a wise and wonderful congressional representative for the Central Coast.


Thank you Mrs. Capps!


srichison

This isn’t really an issue of Medicare or someone’s version of a budget. It’s an issue of polarization and almost all of you are guilty of it. You’re one side or the other, and there is no longer any middle ground. Face it – Lois Capps is, and always has been, a hack. She’s part of the problem going way back. We keep electing her. Whose fault is this mess? Look in your mirror – then I’m sure you will return to your flaming keyboards.


We’re years, maybe decades from any type of solution because we keep sending the party hacks back to Washington.


WiseGuy

There is nothing greater that society or a nation can do than to make healthcare available to ALL who need it. That is the mark of a truly civilized and successful community.


racket

Maybe I watch too much late night TV, but I am poisoned to your sentiment by the late night fraudsters who guarantee a taxpayer-paid mobility scooter to anyone who asks for one.


racket

Wiseguy,


Your comment above continues to disturb me.


If the onus is upon us to make health care available to all that need it, why do we stop at our nation’s borders?


Why is it conscionable that our government allow people to die around the world from disease and infirmity from which there are known (and often inexpensive) cures?


Is it some jingoist nationalism that mandates that the our government limit its paternalism to its subjects? We are the richest nation in the world — why isn’t it in our charter to protect the frail worldwide from the ravages of time and age and illness?


WiseGuy

We start by getting our own house in order and helping where we can. Nothing to fear, or be “disturbed” about.


The Gimlet Eye

Really? Everybody? Wow! What a utopian gravy train! Aren’t you really talking about “charity”? Whatever happened to that word? Why isn’t EVERYTHING free? There is no free lunch! Everything costs! What you refer to is a socialist state, or welfare state. Such a state IS NOT an alternative to a capitalist state, not at all. It is a recipe for destruction and suicide.