Simply put, it does the following:
• Anyone over 55 years old wouldn’t see any change to Medicare as it is currently constituted.
• Anyone younger than 55 would be given an option. Either they could choose a private insurance company (similar to the Medicare Advantage program instituted in the 1970’s), or they could enroll in Medicare as a fee-for-service program that would continue to pay directly for care. The difference is they would be given a quantified amount to pay for their insurance where there would be caps depending on financial need.
No onecurrently receiving Medicare would be affected and everyone else would have a ten- year window to plan for the changes ahead. This may be a perfect plan, a lousy plan or something in-between depending on your perception, but it is a plan to confront the problem.
The President doesn’t like to speak of how he has altered Medicare, but his spokesperson, Stephanie Cutter, admitted on Face the Nation that there is a $700 billion cut to Medicare in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). She stated that this was a reduction of payments to insurance and drug companies, but they are clearly cuts and they go into effect on January 1, 2013. She also stated that the President plans another $300 billion in cuts in his current plans.
American politicians are afraid of discussing cuts to any program; after all, whenever there’s a cut, someone gets less than they currently receive. But many people are also legitimately frightened by our out-of-control budgets at all levels of government, and the realization that we have made future commitments that are completely unsustainable. You may not believe that, but more and more Americans clearly shiver as cities are going bankrupt while we’re mortgaging our future with annual trillion dollar budget deficits and a national debt of $16 trillion.
The question that we all must face is can either Medicare or Social Security remain sustainable when we have deficits this large? With the national debt ballooning, expenditures for entitlement programs will be squeezed out by interest payments. What happens to these programs when interest rates rise which we all know will have to happen sometime and probably not too long from now?
The President and his allies have confronted the issue, but appear reluctant to say they have. This is made worse by the fact that it’s unlikely that Congress will ever approve the cuts. After all, for each of the past several years, Congress has approved a bill to “adjust” (raise) Medicare payments to doctors so that seniors don’t scream when their doctors refuse to provide services.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are betting that the American people will not be scared into believing that Medicare is going away. They believe that Americans realize that there is a severe crisis, and that things have to change before we’re forced to change. And they have faith that seniors understand that even though they won’t be personally affected by Ryan-Wyden, changes must be made for the benefit of their children and grandchildren. Time will tell whether they are correct. But let us be clear, Mr. Romney has never adopted the Ryan-Wyden Plan and he is the presidential candidate not Paul Ryan.
You now have the facts in terms as simply as can be stated and hopefully in as unbiased a way as possible. You are smart enough to make your own decision.
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