As House Republicans cue up their Medicare Phase-out legislation, we're about to be treated, once again, to an example of how political actors use press cowardice to deceive the public. Rep. Paul Ryan's plan, which is now the official Republican plan, phases out Medicare over 10 years. Yet you'll be treated to numerous articles that call this a 'reform' or 'overhaul' or even 'saving' Medicare. But each are no better than straight outright deceptions, whether by design or ignorance.
The Medicare system has been in place in the United States for a bit more than 40 years. The premise is simple: once you hit retirement age you move into a single payer health care insurance system in which Medicare takes responsibility for your care, regardless of the state of your health or income level. There are copays. No one's crazy about exactly how much is covered. Some doctors opt out. You've probably heard all of this at one point or another. But the key is that you're in the program. And for the rest of your life you're out of the private health insurance system. You're covered. Permanently and on the same terms as everyone else.
Now, this isn't just a good thing if you're a senior or have parents who are seniors or have anyone in your life who's a senior, which presumably means virtually everyone. It's also just necessary for pretty obvious reasons.
We all know about pre-existing conditions. You're a cancer survivor so no insurer will cover you. Or you have one of the myriad possible conditions that make you a bad risk. And no insurer wants to issue a policy for someone who odds say is likely to cost a lot of money. Well, guess what, people over 65 all have a preexisting condition: they're old! ...
The Ryan plan is to get rid of Medicare and in place of it give seniors a voucher to buy health care insurance from private insurers. Now, what if you can't buy as much as insurance or as much care as you need? Well, start saving now or just too bad.
Now, by any reasonable standard, that's getting rid of Medicare. Abolishing Medicare. Phasing it out. Whatever you want to call it. Medicare is this single payer program that guarantees seniors health care, as noted above. Ryan's plan pushes seniors into the private markets and give them a voucher. That's called getting rid of the program. There's simply no ifs or caveats about. That's not cuts or slowing of the growth. That's abolishing the whole program. Saying anything else is a lie. - Josh Marshall
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