Obama’s War on America’s Seniors

The American Spectator

Seniors citizens probably provided less support for President Obama in the 2008 election than any other voter bloc. That reflects the wisdom of age. But for President Obama, apparently it’s payback time, because he is conducting a comprehensive economic assault on America’s senior citizens.

First He Trashed Medicare

A Democrat campaign theme this fall is that those scary Republicans want to end Medicare as we know it. But that is not possible, because President Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and the Democrats have already done that, in Obamacare.

The Chief Actuary for Medicare has publicly reported that the Medicare payment rates for the doctors and hospitals serving seniors will be cut by 30% over the next 3 years. By 2019, those Medicare payment rates will be lower than under Medicaid, which leaves the poor often unable to find doctors and hospitals willing to serve them. Medicare’s Chief Actuary reports that ultimately under Obamacare Medicare payment rates will be only one-third of what will be paid by private insurance and only half of what is paid by Medicaid. Good luck to Grandma in finding a doctor then.

If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep him, President Obama promised in trying to sell Obamacare to the nation. But the question under Medicare now, after Obamacare, is whether your doctor will be willing to keep you.

Last month’s Annual Report of the Medicare Board of Trustees revealed that Obamacare’s total cuts to Medicare run to over $1 trillion over the first 10 years of full implementation, and to nearly $5 trillion over the first 20 years. These are cuts for seniors who are already retired!

Ultimately, by the end of the Trustees’ Report projection period, Medicare Part A is cut by 60%. Medicare Part B is cut by 43%. Translation: this means the end of Medicare as we know it.

These are all primarily cuts in Medicare payments to the doctors and hospitals for the services, health care, and treatments they provide to the nation’s seniors. That includes hip and knee replacements, sophisticated diagnostics through MRIs and CT scans, treatment for cancer and heart disease, and the services and care from the specialists that keep seniors functional and alive. If the government is not going to pay, then seniors are not going to get the health services, treatment and care they expect.

Indeed, the Medicare Chief Actuary reports that even before these cuts two-thirds of hospitals were already losing money on Medicare patients. Health providers will either have to withdraw from serving Medicare patients, or eventually go into bankruptcy.

These draconian Medicare cuts were the basis for the CBO score repeatedly cited by President Obama that Obamacare would actually reduce the deficit while expanding or adopting three entitlement programs. Too bad the President never disclosed that in trying to sell Obamacare to the nation. Indeed, in his weekly radio address to the nation on August 14, it was these draconian Medicare cuts that President Obama was touting in lauding Obamacare for “adding at least a dozen years to the fiscal health of Medicare — the single longest extension in history.” (Only a dozen years because most of the money raided from Medicare is taken to finance Obamacare.) The President thinks he can play seniors for fools.

Obama’s Medicare policy is like trying to maintain our national defense by refusing to pay the people who make the tanks, the planes, the ships, the guns, the bullets, and the bombs. How long do you think our national defense would last under that policy? The same goes for Medicare now under Obamacare.

Contrast this policy atrocity with the proposed reforms to Medicare under Rep. Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America. Ryan is the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee who will become the Committee Chairman after this fall’s elections. The Congressional Budget Office has scored Ryan’s Roadmap as achieving full and permanent solvency for Social Security, full and permanent solvency for Medicare, and a permanently balanced federal budget, without tax increases.

Ryan’s Roadmap, which he fully explains in a website devoted entirely to the Roadmap, includes no cuts in Social Security or Medicare, or changes of any sort, for today’s seniors. The reforms apply only to those who are under age 55 today. For those future retirees, he would reform Medicare into Medicare Advantage for everyone. Medicare Advantage is the option already existing under Medicare allowing seniors to choose private insurance coverage for their benefits under the program, which nearly one-fourth of seniors have already chosen because it gives them a better deal.

Just as in Medicare Advantage today, future seniors under Ryan’s Roadmap would be able to use Medicare funds to choose from a wide range of private insurance options, including the highly beneficial and empowering Health Savings Accounts. The funding for these options would grow more slowly over time for higher income and healthier seniors, and so they would have to pay some more out of their pockets for the coverage. That is how the long-term Medicare financing gaps are closed and full solvency for Medicare achieved. Additional funding is provided, however, for low and modest income, and less healthy, seniors, so they are fully protected from any higher costs.

But this is too much filthy capitalism for President Obama, and his modern new socialist Democrats, so they wrongly trash it. But unlike Obamacare’s wild and irresponsible Medicare cuts, this is a carefully designed and structured reform plan, which is far better for future seniors, taxpayers, and America.

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