We keep hearing from the Obama Administration, and from other associated Democrats, that Republican proposals to reform Medicare especially the plan put forth by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) will end Medicare as we know it. The latest I've seen push this is new Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schulz (D-FL) on CBS' Face the Nation this morning. She said Ryans plan would throw seniors to the wolves and result in insurance companies dropping them for pre-existing conditions, and denying them care. [Quotations are approximate, written down from short-term memory during the show.]
As with so many statements coming out of the Left these days, there are a few things wrong with these statements. Among these are:
- Medicare as we know it is already ending. Democrats insured that when they stole a half trillion dollars from the program as part of their Obamacare bill (disingenuously titled the Patient Protection and Affordable Cara Act). Democrats claim that taking that amount of money from the program, and cutting its already substandard reimbursement rates, will make the program viable for a much longer time than would have been the case before. These claims completely ignore reality and/or are deliberate falsehoods.
- Underlining the above, Medicares actuary says that, under what is now the current law, Medicare will be bankrupt within a decade. Translated, that means Medicare is now a dead man walking.
- That means something must be done to save the program. Is the Ryan plan the way to do that? Good question. But the Ryan plan is the only one on the table. The Democrats havent presented a plan. It looks like the Democrats plan is to suck their collective thumbs and expect a miracle. (Frankly, that makes less sense than relying on holding the winning lottery ticket!)
- The Obama Administration and the rest of the Democrats are especially incensed at the Ryan plans use of health care policies issued by existing health insurance companies. Rep. Ryan says that just mirrors the practice used in Medicare Part D (the prescription drug program), which he says is costing 41% less than expected unheard of for a government program. He says that is because Part D makes use of the competition inherent in the private sectors free market. If verified, this would make a fairly compelling argument for something like this plan.
- As noted above, a primary part of the Democrats argument against using private insurance companies is the claim that puts seniors at risk because the companies will deny seniors needed medical care. Their solution is to keep all decisions under Medicare. In this case, however, the cure is worse than the disease. The AMAs National Health Insurer Report Card for 2008 (apparently the latest year available) shows that Medicare denies claims at twice the insurance company average, and at a higher rate than any individual private insurer surveyed. In other words, keeping seniors in Medicare as we know it, and away from the private insurance companies, is dangerous to their health.
The Ryan plan may not be the best attempt at a solution. (And, of course, no initial proposal ever gets through Congress unmodified.) But the hysterical pseudo-arguments the Democrats are putting up are making the Ryan plan look pretty good. All the Democrats are providing is demagogic scaremongering. And thats not worthy of any participant in a democracy.