Tag Archives: Medicare Reform

Is Medicare in a debt crisis? Does Medicare need to be reformed?

Medicare is a social program that pays for the health care and prescription drugs of seniors. Forbes magazine explains the basic facts of the Medicare funding situation.

First, the facts:

Often lost in the campaign rhetoric and obscured by the opinionated news dominating the television and print media are the following background facts about Medicare, America’s most burdensome entitlement program given both the demographics and the growth expected in health care costs:

• Medicare is a taxpayer funded, government-run insurance program that is financially unsustainable in its current form. By all estimates, Medicare is spiraling into bankruptcy, with an unfunded liability of almost $38 trillion and a hospital insurance trust fund that will become insolvent in 2024, according to the 2012 Medicare Trustees Report.

• Medicare was already the single insurance program most likely to reject a claim, compared to all of the eight comparable private insurance plans studied in the AMA 2008 National Health Insurance Report Card. This rejection rate was double that of the private insurers’ average – those very same insurance companies vilified by President Obama as denying coverage to Americans.

• An increasing proportion of doctors are already not accepting Medicare patients. A 2008 report by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, an independent federal panel, said that 29 percent of its beneficiaries who were looking for a primary care doctor had a problem finding one. A 2008 survey by the Texas Medical Association that found that only 58 percent of the state’s doctors accepted new Medicare patients, and only 38 percent of primary care doctors did, a number shrinking due to government- decreed payment that is lower than cost. In the 2008 HSC national tracking survey, more than 20 percent of primary care doctors accepted no new Medicare patients (only 4.5 percent accepted no new privately insured patients) and about 40 percent of primary care doctors and 20 percent of specialists refused most new Medicare patients.

The rest of the article compares the Obama and Ryan plans for reforming Medicare.

Here’s a snippet:

President Obama’s plan for Medicare will not simply reduce access to doctors. According to the Medicare Trustees, Medicare payment reductions under the new law will cause hospitals, nursing facilities, and home health agencies to operate at a loss – 15 percent lose money by 2019, 25 percent by 2030, and 40 percent by 2050. The Trustees Report concluded the obvious – health care providers “would have to withdraw from serving Medicare beneficiaries, or shift substantial portions of Medicare costs to their non-Medicare, non-Medicaid payers.” Can American families with private insurance who already pay almost $1,800 per year – extra – for the underpayment by Medicare and Medicaid, subsidizing public insurance by more than $88 billion dollars per year, afford to add even more because of the president’s law?

Signed into law by President Obama is another nefarious method of reducing Medicare payments. A wholly unaccountable, government appointed 15-member Independent Payment Advisory Board, the IPAB, does not just “recommend” changes to reimbursements. It has unprecedented power to reduce (but not to increase) payments to doctors that the Secretary of Health and Human Services is required to implement. To be sure, the IPAB acts independently of the people, immune from Congressional oversight, and even beyond control of the judiciary – ensured in language within the law that isolates it from repeal.

The Paul Ryan plan changes nothing about Medicare for Americans 55 and older. Those who are younger than 55 will be given the option of choosing a private plan and then paying for it with a voucher provided by the government.

Paul Ryan and his mother explain their commitment to Medicare

From Washington Times.

Excerpt:

Paul Ryan, making his first campaign appearance in Florida since becoming Mitt Romney’s running mate a week ago, told a supportive crowd of senior citizens Saturday that President Obama is raidingMedicare to fund his health care reforms.

“One out of six of our hospitals and our nursing homes will go out of business,” as a result of the changes to Medicare under the president’s signature legislative accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Ryansaid in an event at The Villages, the sprawling retirement community near Orlando.

Appearing on stage with his mother, 78-year-old Betty Ryan Douglas, the Republican vice-presidential candidate said he and Mr. Romneywould protect Medicare benefits for the current generation of retirees and save the entitlement program for the future.

“She is why I am here. She and her grandchildren — that’s why I’m here,” he said. “It’s what my mom relies on.

“Medicare will not be used as a piggy bank for Obamacare,” Mr. Ryan said.

The 42-year-old Wisconsin congressman talked about his mom starting her own business after her husband died when Mr. Ryan was a teen.

“And mom — you did build that,” he said, taking a dig at the president’s earlier remarks on small businesses and drawing cheers from the crowd and a fist pump from his mother, a part-time resident of Florida.

The bottom line is that there will be no changes to Medicare to the coverage of seniors over 55. The program will not be solvent for younger people and that’s why it needs to be reformed for Americans under 55.

Paul Ryan responds to his critics on Medicare reform

Here’s an article from the liberal Washington Post that quotes Ryan explaining why he made the video.

Excerpt:

We can no longer let politicians in Washington deny the danger to Medicare – the danger is all too real, and the health of our nation’s seniors is far too important. We have to save Medicare to avoid disruptions in benefits for current seniors, and to strengthen the program for future generations. House Republicans have put forward a plan to do just that. Democratic leaders in Congress have failed to produce a plan – it has been 755 days since Senate Democrats even passed a budget. Meanwhile, the President’s plan would empower a panel of 15 unelected bureaucrats to cut Medicare for current seniors, while failing to save the program for future retirees.

This video lays out the clear choice our nation faces on Medicare: Will Medicare become a program in which a board of bureaucrats manages its bankruptcy by denying care to seniors? Or will leaders work together to save and strengthen Medicare by empowering seniors to choose health care plans that work best for them, with less support for the wealthy and more help for the poor and the sick? House Republicans have advanced solutions to save Medicare. Instead of working with us, the leaders of the Democratic Party have opted to play politics with the health security of America’s seniors.

It’s probably the best video I’ve ever seen to explain the benefits of consumer-driven health care, as opposed to government-run rationing of health care by a board of unelected elites. Either we choose Paul Ryan’s plan or we pay our money and then wait in line for health care that someone else will approve, or not.

UPDATE: New video from Jennifer Rubin’s latest column:

I agree with him.