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Republicans Attack Health Security. Part 1: Medicare

RepublicansAttackMedicare

Mitt Romney’s selection of Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his vice presidential running mate lays bare for all to see that attacking the health care security of American working families is the core domestic policy plank in the 2012 Republican platform.

Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” budget outline became the official document of House Republicans earlier this year (although Congressman Ron Paul was one of five Republicans who voted against it). It proposes a radical revision of Medicare, which would retain the name of the program but it would effectively end the program has has prevented successive waves of senior Americans to avoid poverty in their retirement years. According to the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) the Medicare program has reduced the poverty level among senior citizens in the US by two-thirds.

Ryan-Medicare-PlanRyan’s budget plan would end Medicare as we know it with an annual voucher that seniors would then have to use to buy private insurance and pay for their health care bills. The amount of the vouchers would not keep pace with the cost of health care inflation, which is greater than the general rate of inflation in the economy. It is a plan that is so radical that one GOP presidential candidate called it “right-wing social engineering.”

Typical of a Republican budget wonk, Ryan ignores the health security of senior citizens who use Medicaid and focuses only on the numbers on his spreadsheets. Ryan wants to privatize Medicare and make seniors take the risk and pick up the costs of the transition.

And while Romney and Ryan claim that the Affordable Care Act cut Medicare funding, there is a fundamental difference between the two approaches – the ACA cuts extend the solvency of the Medicare program by eight years. The ACA Medicare cuts were in the form of reimbursement reductions to hospitals, Medicaid prescription drugs and supplemental private insurance plans under Medicare Advantage. They had no impact on seniors’ access to care. In addition, the Affordable Care Act also began closing the prescription drug doughnut hole for seniors.

Like a growing number of Republicans, Ryan believes that there is no proper role for government in health care, that we are all on our own on this challenge and on other issues that confront our families and our communities.

Of course, at the heart of the Ryan budget are huge tax cuts for the wealthiest among us. The goal, it seems, is to de-fund government thereby making it irrelevant in the operation of society, leaving power and control in the hands of his patrons — multi-national corporations and the few hundred families that control the nation’s wealth.

Beyond ending Medicare as we have known it, Ryan and his extremist Republican allies want to end civic life as we have known it. There are no common interests. There is no community to share. There is no greater good.

So this is the fight before us — the fight that Republicans have chosen to have in Louisiana and across the country. We need to fight back and we need your help to do it!  Help us defeat this Republican social engineering at it’s worse. Your $10 commitment today will help your party to fight back against these concerted Republican attacks on health security of every one of us.

Tomorrow: The Republican Attack on Medicaid.

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Originally published: Aug 14, 2012