Early in the 2016 primary process, Trump presented himself as a different kind of Republican in many ways. One of the Orange Hued Mogul’s most significant and early promises was his pledge that he wouldn’t cut Social Security and Medicare. This put him at odds with his Presidential rivals and the Republicans in Congress who have long stood for cutting those vital programs and turning them over to the special interests in the private sector like Wall Street and the private health insurance industry.
Since the election, Trump and his advisers are singing a much different tune. Trump’s position on Medicare on his website has morphed into the standard right wing stance on that program. Trump’s website promises that he will “modernize” Medicare and allow for more “flexibility.” Those are the code words used by the likes of Paul Ryan when they talk about ending Medicare as we know it and turning it into a voucher program. Moreover, key Trump adviser KellyAnne Conway said that Trump was now open to hearing about Paul Ryan’s Medicare privatization plan.
Ryan’s Medicare plan would end the Medicare guarantee for people under the age of 55 and turn it into a voucher program for them. (Current senior citizens wouldn’t be immediately effected.) Senior citizens would be given a voucher to purchase health insurance on an Obama Care like exchange. What is seldom mentioned is that the Ryan plan – like all of the GOP Obama Care replacement plans – would bring back pre-existing condition clauses. Needless to say, most senior citizens would have a difficult time finding – let alone affording – a private health insurance plan when you factor into the equation the return of the hated pre-existing condition clauses.
One of the biggest problems with Ryan’s Medicare phase out plan is that the vouchers wouldn’t keep up with the rate of medical inflation. Your average senior citizen would end up paying an additional $6,000.00 per year in additional out of pocket medical expenses. According to the Center For American Progress, ending Medicare could “increase costs for seniors by $60,000.00 for seniors reaching the age of 65 in 2023.” Simply stated, senior citizens would pay a lot more for vastly inferior coverage under the Ryan plan.
The long term effect of Ryan’s plan would be to destroy traditional Medicare for those who are near retirement or are already retired. Under his plan, the private health insurance companies would cherry pick the healthiest senior citizens – leaving the ill seniors in the traditional program. Obviously, this would hike the costs for traditional Medicare and create pressure to eliminate it in it’s entirety. As Newt Gingrich said in the 1990s, the Republicans want Medicare to “wither on the vine.”
In addition to being costly for senior citizens, the Ryan Medicare phase out plan is breathtaking in it’s cynicism because it exempts current senior citizens. If the Ryan voucher plan is so great, why exempt current senior citizens? In addition, the GOP believes that today’s retirees will support his awful plan and throw their children and grand children under the bus.
I want everybody to know that Fischer, Sasse, Fortenberry and Smith have all voted to turn Medicare into a voucher program – in some cases multiple times. During the recent campaign, Don Bacon said he opposed the Ryan plan. He could be lying since Paul Ryan campaigned for him and raised money for him. (In 2012, Fischer said she opposed Medicare phase out but she voted for it as early as 2013.) In any event, I would recommend to my friends in CD02 that they inundate Bacon with messages of opposition to ending Medicare as we know it.
Already, the Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill are vowing to vigorously fight the phase out of Medicare. Nancy Pelosi recently promised that Democrats would remain united in the battle to stop Ryan’s plan, a goal she described as crucial to defeating it, just as unity enabled the Democrats to kill Bush’s 2005 push to turn Social Security over to Wall Street.
Chuck Schumer echoed Pelosi’s vow: “Medicare is one of the most successful government programs ever created – it’s been a success story for decades. The Republicans’ ideological and visceral hatred of government could deny millions of senior citizens across the country the care they need and deserve. To our Republican colleagues considering this path, Democrats say: make our day. Your effort will fail, and this attack on our seniors will not stand.”
The radical right in the GOP have always hated Medicare and Social Security since these programs have proven that government can improve the quality of life for millions of Americans. Medicare and Social Security have reduced poverty among the elderly from 50% to 9%.
Medicare is a fight that we must and can win. It would only take three Republican Senators to stop Trump’s Medicare privatization scheme. Back in 2005, when Bush was popular and had 55 GOP Senators, he made an effort to privatize Social Security and turn it over to Wall Street. The proposal turned out to be so toxic that most Republicans wouldn’t come out in support of it. The defeat of Bush’s Social Security scheme also marked the beginning of his political decline. We can turn the Medicare fight into a similar defeat for Trump and the GOP! Now let’s get it done! The American people are on our side!