Ending Medicare as we know it

I can’t imagine this is going to be popular:

The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills. … Mr. Ryan’s proposal would apply to those currently under the age of 55, and for those Americans would convert Medicare into a “premium support” system. Participants from that group would choose from an array of private insurance plans when they reach 65 and become eligible, and the government would pay about the first $15,000 in premiums. Those who are poorer or less healthy would receive bigger payments than others.

This is exactly what Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., has been threatening, er, promising, to do to Medicare since he released his “Roadmap for America’s Future,” last year. This is the budget plan that somehow earned Ryan a reputation as a fiscal policy wonk, even though it won’t actually balance the budget for decades, slashes Medicare and Social Security spending, raises taxes on most Americans while giving the wealthiest taxpayers enormous breaks.

Ryan’s plan does nothing – absolutely nothing – to control health care costs. It saves money by giving seniors less money to buy private insurance than Medicare would have spent on health care. This is a recipe for disaster. It would return us to a time when many seniors simply could not afford health care.

After all their complaints that the health care reform act cut Medicare spending, it’s somewhat surprising to see the Republican leadership embrace this radical and unpopular idea.

American citizens – who, by all indications, overwhelmingly oppose such drastic cuts to Medicare, had best start paying attention.

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