The left-wing Associated Press (AP) news service circulated an article Friday October 5, which appears widely, claiming that former Massachusetts Governor Romney's Medicare Reform plan does not include a cap on Medicare budget increases and therefore the policy wonks and bureaucracies such as the Congressional Budget Office can't decide how much it will cost... or save.
In contrast to premium-support-based defined-contribution Medicare reforms with a cap on government spending such as current Medicare law (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare) and plans such as Aaron/Bowles/Coburn/Domenici/Heritage/Lieberman/Reischauer/Rivlin/Ryan/Simpson/Wyden, Romney -- according to the AP -- is saying competitive bidding alone will reduce government Medicare spending without reducing benefits to seniors.
I think he might be right simply because current Original Medicare, as amended by Obamacare, provides such minimal and limited benefits. There is also academic research that backs up Romney, most recently the work of three Harvard professors that "proved" that competitive bidding would have reduced the cost of Original Medicare 15% in 2009 in most parts of the the United States for both the government and beneficiaries using the Wyden-Ryan rules.
Whether that is all true or false or even knowable... who cares. Particulary who cares what consistently wrong inside-the-beltway bozos think. Seniors need politicians that will do the right thing not the Washington thing. But this October 5 AP article is misleading about current Medicare in ways that hurt and misinform both current and future senior citizens.
- First it is absolutely untrue, as the AP claims, that current Medicare is "open ended and pays all bills that come in." Medicare today already has strict lifetime limits that cap government expense and likely leave all but the richest seniors with catastrophic illness bankrupt. Of course rather than paying all bills that come in, current Medicare only pays 80% of an arbitrary number chosen by the government. The senior is responsible for the other 20% or more, depending on the provider, even for services Medicare covers. And Medicare also has all kinds of limits currently on what services it will cover.
- Second, it is untrue that only "retirees after 2022 will have the option to buy private insurance." Retirees have that option today and over 80% of us on Medicare today do so. In fact, almost 30% of us buy it through a highly successful government program called Part C Medicare Advantage, the model for the Wyden-Ryan plan for Medicare Reform. Most important, Part C Medicare Advantage provides the catastrophic coverage that Original Medicare lacks.
Despite these total untruths designed to mislead and harm seniors (and some other simply misleading information for seniors), the October 5 AP article is correct that Obama's "plan" for a death panel to cap medicare spending is more than a plan. It IS the law of the United States of America. It starts next year. It is purposely timed to harm seniors after the upcoming election.
-- Dennis Byron