There’s No Choice But Change

The outrageous distortions about the Ryan Medicare reform plan are coming from people who are accelerating the program’s path to insolvency.

Medicare is being used as a piggy bank by Democrats, with $575 billion in payment cuts used to finance two massive new entitlement programs in Obamacare. And this April, the president proposed taking another $480 billion out of the program to lower the deficit.

Payments to providers will be cut so deeply that seniors will find it harder and harder to get care. Doctors will stop taking Medicare or go bankrupt. A whopping 87 percent of doctors say they will stop seeing or will restrict the number of Medicare patients they see, further shrinking the pool of providers and further restricting access to care.

The powerful, 15-member Independent Payment Advisory Board will use price controls to meet ever-elusive spending targets. Rationing is inevitable, especially of newer medicines and technologies.

House Energy and Commerce chairman Fred Upton explained, “Last year, Medicare expenditures reached $523 billion, but the income was only $486 billion — leaving a $37 billion deficit in just one year. And with 10,000 new individuals becoming eligible each day, it’s only going to get worse.”

Medicare is $38 trillion in the red, and it accelerated five years toward insolvency in just the last year, according to the Medicare Trustees’ latest report.

Sen. Marco Rubio captured it best in a new video, saying, “Medicare will go broke in as little as nine years … and anyone who is in favor of doing nothing to deal with this fact is in favor of bankrupting it.”

House Budget chairman Paul Ryan recognized that reality with his plan to begin modernizing the program, starting ten years from now. He wants to give baby boomers the option of private coverage in a plan that works much like the one members of Congress have today.

Access to coverage would be guaranteed, and payments would be tailored to meet a person’s age, health status, and income level.

Medicare is a government-run, politically-driven health-care program with so many gaps that people have to buy supplementary coverage. Not surprisingly, one fourth of today’s seniors have voluntarily decided to opt out of traditional Medicare by joining private plans in Medicare Advantage. These plans are competing for their business, offering better benefits often at lower costs to beneficiaries.

Rather than slashing this popular program as Obamacare does, it should be put on an equal and sound financial footing to continue to give seniors choices in the future. This model of seniors selecting from competing private plans is what Paul Ryan is proposing ten years hence, with premium-support payments to help pay for the cost of that plan.

Here are the facts of the Ryan plan: Paul Ryan’s plan does keep the payment reductions in Medicare under current law for ten years; he doesn’t use them to create two massive new entitlement programs but to preserve Medicare.

Beginning in 2022, beneficiaries are guaranteed a choice among Medicare-approved private health options. As the Congressional Budget Office notes: “Plans would have to issue insurance to all people eligible for Medicare who applied.” In other words, all Medicare beneficiaries are guaranteed that a health plan will be available for them.

This is in stark contrast to what would happen to Medicare under current law. Without a serious course adjustment, Medicare will become a third-rate, price-controlled program that rations a lower quality of care through waiting lines and other restrictions. If the antiquated, open-ended, fee-for-service model isn’t reformed, then we will continue to pour deficit-funded dollars into the program or raise taxes to levels that would topple the economy as millions of baby boomers hit retirement.

The only way to save Medicare is to change it.

Posted on National Review Online: Critical Condition, May 26, 2011.

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The outrageous distortions about the Ryan Medicare reform plan are coming from people who are accelerating the program’s path to insolvency.

Medicare is being used as a piggy bank by Democrats, with $575 billion in payment cuts used to finance two massive new entitlement programs in ObamaCare. And this April, the president proposed taking another $480 billion out of the program to lower the deficit.

Payments to providers will be cut so deeply that seniors will find it harder and harder to get care. Doctors will stop taking Medicare or go bankrupt. A whopping 87% of doctors say they will stop seeing or will restrict the number of Medicare patients they see, further shrinking the pool of providers and further restricting access to care.

The powerful, 15-member Independent Payment Advisory Board will use price controls to meet ever-elusive spending targets. Rationing is inevitable, especially of newer medicines and technologies.

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) explained, “Last year, Medicare expenditures reached $523 billion, but the income was only $486 billion — leaving a $37 billion deficit in just one year. And with 10,000 new individuals becoming eligible each day, it’s only going to get worse.”

Medicare is $38 trillion in the red, and it accelerated five years toward insolvency in just the last year, according to the Medicare Trustees’ latest report.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) captured it best in a new video, saying “Medicare will go broke in as little as nine years…And anyone who is in favor of doing nothing to deal with this fact is in favor of bankrupting it.”

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan recognized that reality with his plan to begin modernizing the program, starting 10 years from now. He wants to give baby boomers the option of private coverage in a plan that works much like the one members of Congress have today.

Access to coverage would be guaranteed, and payments would be tailored to meet a person’s age, health status, and income level.

Medicare is a government-run, politically driven health care program with so many gaps that people have to buy supplementary coverage. Not surprisingly, one fourth of today’s seniors have voluntarily decided to opt-out of traditional Medicare by joining private plans in Medicare Advantage. These plans are competing for their business, offering better benefits often at lower costs to beneficiaries.

Rather than slashing this popular program as ObamaCare does, it should be put on an equal and sound financial footing to continue to give seniors choices in the future. This model of seniors selecting from competing private plans is what Paul Ryan is proposing 10 years hence with premium-support payment to help pay for the cost of that plan.

Here are the facts of the Ryan plan: Paul Ryan’s plan does keep the payment reductions in Medicare under current law for ten years;  he doesn’t use them to create two massive new entitlement programs but to preserve Medicare. 

Beginning in 2022, beneficiaries are guaranteed a choice among Medicare-approved private health options. As the Congressional Budget Office notes: “Plans would have to issue insurance to all people eligible for Medicare who applied.” In other words, all Medicare beneficiaries are guaranteed that a health plan will be available for them.

This is in stark contrast to what would happen to Medicare under current law. Without a serious course adjustment, Medicare will become a third-rate, price-controlled program that rations a lower-quality of care through waiting lines and other restrictions. If the antiquated, open-ended, fee-for-service model isn’t reformed, then we will continue to pour deficit-funded dollars into the program or raise taxes to levels that would topple the economy as millions of baby boomers hit retirement.

The only way to save Medicare is to change it.

CLIP OF THE WEEK

The Path to Prosperity (Episode 2): Saving Medicare, Visualized

In this video, Rep. Paul Ryan explains the real danger our growing debt poses to Medicare, and describes a plan of action to save this critical health-security program.
Watch now >>

 

 

GALEN IN THE NEWS

ObamaCare Repeal Means Waivers for Everybody

Grace-Marie Turner
The Washington Examiner, 05/22/11

There are now 1,372 companies, labor unions and states that have applied for and been granted waivers from an early provision of the health overhaul law that says health policies must provide at least $750,000 a year in insurance protection. And one-fourth of the latest batch of waivers went to restaurants, spas, and other businesses in Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco district. Clearly, if you have friends at the White House and pay your dues, you, too, can be exempt from Obamacare’s rules. Obamacare is barely in place, and we see administration officials using it to pick winners and losers based upon political favorites. The waivers are just one more reminder of why Obamacare will not stand.

Read More »

White House Waivers Make a Splash

Grace-Marie Turner
The Washington Times, 05/26/11

In a bizarre near-admission that the so-called “Affordable Care Act” is anything but, the White House issued a blog post defending the waves of waivers it has been issuing that exempt employers “from the annual limit provision of the law if it would disrupt access to existing insurance arrangements or adversely affect premiums, causing people to lose coverage.” In other words, Obamacare would cause people to lose their insurance coverage or cause costs to go up if they don’t grant these waivers. Wasn’t Obamacare supposed to do just the opposite? This sweeping, 2,800-page law bristles with illogical mandates that invite organizations to seek special favors and exemptions. This is crony capitalism at its worst. All of this reminds people of how angry we were at all the special deals — such as the “Cornhusker Kickback,” the “Louisiana Purchase” and so on — that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid handed out to get Obamacare through the Senate in 2009.

Read More »

States Need Tools to Stem Medicaid’s Red Ink

Grace-Marie Turner
The Daily Caller, 05/24/11

This week, Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) introduced legislation to reform Medicaid by giving states more flexibility and control and creating new incentives to improve the quality of care in the program. They start by giving governors their first request — repealing the maintenance of effort requirement that forces them to keep Medicaid enrollment high even as health spending is squeezing other state services. Their “Medicaid Improvement and State Empowerment Act” would give “health grants” to states to provide coverage for low-income Americans and give states more flexibility to provide care that suits the needs and resources of their states and not the dictates of Washington bureaucrats. The bill would also maintain current payments for acute care for patients who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid and the disabled. Bringing the governors into the conversation is an important move. Medicaid is the ground war in the larger constitutional power struggles playing out through ObamaCare. The states will be the power centers over the next two years as they work to chart a new path and wrest and redesign their Medicaid programs to stem the flow of Medicaid’s red ink.

Read More »

HEALTH REFORM

How We Would Cut America’s Debt
Joseph Antos, Andrew G. Biggs, Alex Brill, Alan D. Viard, The Washington Post, 05/23/11

Obamacare Tax Subsidies: Bigger Deficit, Fewer Taxpayers, Damaged Economy
Paul Winfree, The Heritage Foundation, 05/24/11

Obama skirts rule of law to reward pals, punish foes
Michael Barone, The Examiner, 05/24/11

Rep. Erik Paulsen vows to revamp FDA and cut medical device tax
Brad Allen, MinnPost, 05/20/11

MEDICARE

Next Steps on Medicare Reform Now
Mark B. McClellan, The Hill, 05/20/11

Republicans and Mediscare
The Wall Street Journal, 05/23/11

INTERNATIONAL HEALTH SYSTEMS

NHS Budget Squeeze to Blame for Longer Waiting Times, Say Doctors
James Ball and Denis Campbell, The Guardian, 05/19/11

Brain cancer treatment: A life extended, savings depleted
Charlie Fidelman, The Gazette, 05/25/11

CONSUMER CHOICE MATTERS® NEWS

Characteristics of the CDHP Population, 2005-2010
Paul Fronstin, Employee Benefit Research Institute, 05/11

STATE ISSUES

Vermont Gives the ‘Public Option’ a Clinical Trial
David Gratzer, The Wall Street Journal, 05/21/11

Candid Romney Would Own Up To Mass. Fiasco
Sally Pipes, Investor’s Business Daily, 05/20/11

RomneyCare could be radioactive for GOP
Philip Klein, The Examiner, 04/13/11

Events

Caring for People Covered by Both Medicare and Medicaid: A Primer on Dually Eligible Beneficiaries
Alliance for Health Reform Briefing
Friday, June 3, 2011
12:15pm – 2:00pm
Washington, DC

2011 Faith & Freedom Conference and Strategy Briefing
Faith & Freedom Coalition Event
June 3-4, 2011
Washington, DC
Grace-Marie Turner will speak about repealing and replacing ObamaCare on Saturday, June 4.

9th Annual Health Care Conference
Washington Policy Center Event
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
8:00am – 1:30pm
Seatac, WA

Seventh Annual State of Personalized Medicine Luncheon
Personalized Medicine Coalition Event
Thursday, June 9, 2011
12:00pm – 3:00pm
Washington, DC

The Future of Medicare and Medicaid
American Conservative Nation Public Forum
Thursday, June 9, 2011
7:00pm – 8:30pm
Washington, DC
Grace-Marie Turner will speak about the outlook for Medicare and Medicaid.

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