The seniors that I’ve met with on my 16-county tour across the 4th Congressional district don’t really care about the political talking points and poll numbers used by Washington politicians to talk about Medicare. They all want to know the same thing: “How will the Paul Ryan/ Scott DesJarlais plan for Medicare affect me, and will I have to pay more? ”
If the Ryan/DesJarlais plan is enacted, our seniors will immediately see drastic changes. That’s because the Ryan/DesJarlais plan charges seniors more for prescription drugs and makes seniors pay out-of-pocket for preventative care. Seniors can expect to see additional out-of-pocket costs in the future because the Ryan/DesJarlais plan turns Medicare into a voucher program.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that the 2011 Ryan/DesJarlais plan for Medicare would lead to seniors paying an additional $6,300 out of pocket annually. The CBO has not evaluated the 2012 budget proposal, but says that it too could lead to higher out-of-pocket costs to our seniors. Given the out-of-pocket expenses in the 2011 Ryan/DesJarlais proposal that moves to full privatization of Medicare, there’s no reason to expect anything but increased costs to seniors under their current hybrid-privatization model.
Congressmen Paul Ryan and Scott DesJarlais can say they’re “Saving Medicare,” all they want, but those words are of little comfort to current seniors on Medicare and future Medicare beneficiaries that will see a decrease in Medicare benefits and an increase in what they are asked to pay out of pocket.
Some of the proposed changes to Medicare would be gradual for our seniors, but under the Republican plan, the “donut-hole” in Medicare would immediately be opened up, leading to seniors paying more for prescription drugs. Seniors would also be immediately asked to pay out of pocket for preventative care. This means women wanting to be screened for breast cancer or men wanting to be screened for colon cancer could immediately expect to have higher co-pays than what exists under the current law.
The Ryan/DesJarlais plan to privatize Medicare and turn it into a voucher program “saves Medicare” by shifting healthcare costs to seniors. I can think of few seniors that consider paying more out of pocket each month to be a savings. The value of the “voucher” will have little room for flexibility; while the cost of healthcare to consumers is guaranteed to rise.
Our seniors will lose under the voucher program when they’re asked to pay more out of pocket, while big insurance companies, hospitals, and doctors are the ones that seek to gain financially. No commercial payer can wield the same volume of purchasing power that the federal government currently has through Medicare contracting.
When seniors are given a voucher and told to “go shop around,” for a health insurance plan, the purchasing power of Medicare will end. Insurance companies, hospitals and doctors will undoubtedly take advantage of this opportunity to increase their own reimbursement rate, and given little flexibility in the value of the voucher, only one outcome is possible: the insurance companies will ask seniors to pay more and more out of pocket.
The solvency of Medicare has been a point of debate and discussion in the halls of Congress for years, as it should. The Medicare Board of Trustees estimates that under current law, Medicare would remain solvent through 2024. The Medicare Board of Trustees has also said that altering current law, as Ryan and DesJarlais have vowed to do, would make Medicare go broke as soon as 2016.
While there are many unknowns in the Ryan/DesJarlais plan for Medicare, increased costs to seniors is a guaranteed. Their plan to continue giving tax breaks, and even increasing current tax breaks, to big oil companies, millionaires, billionaires, and corporations that ship our jobs overseas is not an unknown, it's what they've said they'll do.
When addressing Medicare's solvency, the question has to be asked: "Do we value keeping the promises we have made to our seniors more or less than we do continuing to give large tax breaks to big oil companies, millionaires, billionaires, and companies that ship our jobs overseas?”
Charging our seniors more for their healthcare is not “saving Medicare.” Our seniors and soon-to-be seniors have been paying into Medicare for all of their working lives, and altering Medicare in a way that passes the costs on to our seniors is breaking the promises that we have made to them.
Charging our seniors more for their healthcare does not reflect our values in Tennessee. In Tennessee, we keep our promises.
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Senator Stewart, I challenge you to do a Google search on “Democrats Medicare plan.” Now, what did you find? All I found was attacks on the Ryan plan from the Democrats. As you have pointed out, Medicare is in danger of insolvency in the not too distant future. Yet, I can not find your fellow Democrat’s plan that would solve this problem. Was taking $700 billion from Medicare to help fund Obamacare the answer?
I am sure that you are far better versed on these issues than I, but if you, the Democrats or Republicans can’t speak to the average person about how your party will help solve these problems, then don’t expect the average voter to be casting a vote for you in November. All I have heard thus far is a lot of rhetoric and attacks. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say, stop the attacks. Put forth solutions and let us decide which candidate has the best solution.
Staunch Democrats will vote Democrat. Staunch Republicans will vote Republican. Those of us in the middle want real solutions. As far as I am concerned, you have offered nothing in your commentary that would lead me to believe that you or your Democratic brethren have anything to offer on this subject other than to continue the attacks while offering no solutions of your own.
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What is your plan for saving Medicare Mr. Stewart? Or, can you only tell us what is wrong? All I see here are party talking points about why we shouldn’t like someone else’s plan. At least they have one.
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Maybe if Eric Stewart paid his taxes on time Medicare would not have to raise the fees on seniors. What a hypocrite.
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I understand there are so many lies flying around that it's impossible for anyone to distinguish between what is and what isn't. However, one of the biggest lies of the Affordable Care Act is that the president took $700 billion away from Medicare to pay for it.
Now, I'm just an average person just like anyone else, but one of the things my parents always told my siblings and me is to always search for the truth when we have doubts. Here's what I was able to conclude about the alleged robbery of Medicare to pay for the Affordable Care Act, and I relied on multiple sources from both sides of the issue:
First of all, it's Medicare Part A, the hospital part, and not Medicare Part B, D which seniors pay a monthly premium for coverage. Medicare Part A is the inpatient hospital portion of the program, usually reserved for inpatient, nursing home care, some home healthcare needs.
I'll try to explain the "cut" in more simpler terms and as I was able to understand it: Say, everyday for the last 10 years you payed for an expensive lunch five days a week. You then decide to start saving and sacking away the money you spend for future projected needs by preparing your own healthier homemade cooked meals. You place that money you'd normally have spent on that expensive lunch into a special account. On one end, you did "cut" out that expensive lunch, but on the other end you're actually saving.
The way I read into the Medicare verse the Affordable Care Plan, the cuts are actually a reduction in the future of Medicare growth over a 10 year period. Where reductions, or spending less, are actually a good thing, as you get to save what you're no longer spending.
According to factcheck: "The biggest savings from the Affordable Care Act come from reductions in the future growth of payments to hospitals — about $415 billion over 10 years. If Medicare doesn’t need to spend that income immediately, it’s credited to Part A’s trust fund, and Medicare gets a Treasury bond that it can cash in later. Anytime Medicare needs to cash in that bond, Treasury must pay it. Even if Treasury spent the original money on something else (which it sometimes do), it must pay the bond."
So the misinformation, that the president has robbed Medicare to pay for the Affordable Care Act (or "ObamaCare", whatever that's suppose to mean) is misleading and purposely spreading fear among the most vulnerable and naive. But that's what they're banking on. Fear and ignorance. Ignorant is not a bad term here, and in no way am I using the word to insult. The word here just means "unknowing," or lack of knowledge. That would include me.
The other myth, or lie, about the president robbing Medicare of $700 billion is, if truth be known, Medicare doesn't even have $700 billion in its trust fund. Also, it's the understanding the president can't even take money from the Medicare Trust. As Medicare holds the Treasury Bonds and can cash them in anytime it needs the money.
It's pointless to go on, but the above are just the basics, and the truth is if the $700 billion isn't cut from the growth of future Medicare spending, money from the trust would be spent out more quickly. But even still, Medicare will not go "bankrupt" as purposeful misinformation runs amok, but it could be forced to pay out less. Leaving those who rely on Medicare insurance having to possibly pay more out of pocket.
"Also, like so many other things, the Medicare blame is being placed solely at the door step of President Obama. Here's another revelation:
Also, the trustees have been warning about the exhaustion of the Part A trust fund since 1970, but Congress has never allowed the fund to be depleted. Congress has always taken some action, often raising payroll taxes to extend the life of the fund."