By Teresa Welsh |
Republican Mitt Romney's desperate attempt to revive his presidential campaign by picking House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan as his running mate has not made Ryan's Medicare plan a better idea. It's still a lousy scheme that would be disastrous for the middle class because it would replace healthcare security for seniors with crushing medical expenses.
The Ryan privatization plan does nothing to strengthen Medicare or control rising healthcare costs. Instead it would make seniors pay more than $6,400 for their healthcare in order to give tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and corporate special interests like Big Oil.
The Ryan plan trades seniors' guaranteed healthcare benefits for vouchers to buy private health insurance. The value of the vouchers would grow at a slower rate than the private insurance premiums. When premiums, co-payments, and deductibles are raised, seniors would be on their own.
The Ryan-Romney plan is designed to end Medicare as we know it. The plan would herd new enrollees into a privatized Medicare program while current Medicare enrollees become older and sicker. That would increase costs in the Medicare program, which has always been far more efficient and cost-effective than private insurance.
The Ryan-Romney plan would repeal the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, and cut preventive benefits and drug discounts for seniors now and in the future, while shortening the life of the Medicare trust fund by seven years.
Meanwhile, Romney and Ryan would raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, making it even harder for people to retire, let alone retire with any security.
The ACA is already closing the Medicare prescription drug donut hole and preserving the program for future generations. The law eliminates waste, fraud and abuse, including overcharges by private insurers, so that young people will have access to the same quality Medicare system seniors enjoy today.
The Ryan-Romney plan would leave many seniors without nursing home coverage by making deep cuts to Medicaid that would bankrupt millions of middle-class families struggling to shoulder the costs of long-term care. Nursing home care in the U.S. costs $74,800 a year on average, but the median household income is only $52,000. No working family can manage these expenses.
The Ryan-Romney Medicare plan is not a legitimate healthcare proposal—it's just another GOP attack on our country's shrinking middle class and the promise of the American Dream.
About Ethan Rome Executive Director of Health Care for America Now
James Capretta Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center
Nina Owcharenko Director of the Heritage Foundation's Center for Health Policy Studies
Joseph Antos Wilson H. Taylor Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute