Right wing fiction writers are at it again. This time the target is Medicare.
You will recall previous works including, “WMDs in Iraq; A Slam Dunk," “Record Temperatures and Droughts; Blame the Gays Not Carbon Emissions” and “America's Twin Problems; Rich Need More Money...Corporations Need More Power.”
The latest work is so bizarre, it's hard to determine if one should laugh, cry or shake one's head. Maybe all three!
This fairy tale has the Republican Party, the ones that fought Medicare for the last half century, now rushing to save it! The villain is a ruthless big spending socialist president, always eager to encourage the “culture of dependency” and eager to “buy votes,” who has mysteriously decided to anger and alienate his own base in a tight election by “robbing” Medicare of over $700 billion!
And you thought the TV show “Grimm” was weird!
Time out for some straight talk for seniors.
The Congressional Budget Office reports that President Obama does take more than $700 billion out of Medicare, but not by cutting benefits to seniors as Romney has repeatedly and falsely claimed.
President Obama's program achieves these savings through an emphasis on preventive health care, greater efficiency and productivity in the system, cutting down on over-payments and reducing fraud and abuse. Obama also gives less to entrenched hospital, doctor, drug and insurance company lobbies.
Under the president's proposal, these savings will be put back into the health care system through what is called “Obamacare” and used to pay for insurance for children and lower-income Americans, and to end the notorious “doughnut hole” that is eating into so much of seniors' wealth.
What is lost in the Republican effort to blur the issue is that Ryan's budget makes the exact same cuts. Yes, the very same cuts they denounce, they advocate.
However, Republicans go further by eventually transitioning the entire Medicare program to a voucher system.
Seniors would be given a voucher to use to purchase private insurance. If the voucher does not cover the cost of insurance, seniors will have to pay the difference. The Congressional Budget Office says Ryan's original plan would force seniors to pay an additional $6,500 a year in medical and insurance expenses.
Over time, it gets worse. These vouchers deliberately will not keep pace with rising health care costs, forcing seniors to pay even more.
Eventually, these vouchers will cover such a small percent of health insurance, Medicare as we know it today will cease to exist. Then, for most seniors, especially the sick ones, affordable health insurance will be nearly impossible, just as it was before the creation of Medicare.
And after all this, these savings will be used not to reduce the national debt, as advertised, but to pay for more military spending and further tax cuts for the wealthiest few! Got that? Seniors will pay more, so the rich and the military can have more!
And here is the best part. Ryan and Romney tell current seniors not to worry, as these changes will not apply to them; only to those under 55. Get that? We should vote for this and not worry because these changes do not apply to us, only our children!
In fairness to Ryan, Ryan is constantly changing his “reforms” so what is said today about them may be out of date tomorrow, but in the end it's all a big risk.
Seniors should be very wary before taking the Ryan Romney deal, regardless of what Paul Ryan ... or his mother ... tells you.
A Johnston resident, Charles Lawrence is retired from WPRO AM-FM and is a freelance writer. He served in the Vietnam War as a member of the Air Force.