Peter Ferrara

DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz described the Medicare reforms proposed by GOP Vice-Presidential nominee and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) as "literally a death trap for seniors." White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that Ryan's reforms would "change Medicare as we know it."

But it was Obamacare that already changed Medicare as we know it, transforming it literally into a death trap for seniors. Obamacare cut Medicare by $716 billion over the next 10 years alone, mostly by slashing Medicare payments to doctors and hospitals. And that is just a down-payment on what is to come.

Ryan explained all this to the recent AARP convention, calling it "the President's raid on Medicare." Ryan reported, "The first step to a stronger Medicare is to repeal Obamacare, because it represents the worst of both worlds. It weakens Medicare for today's seniors and puts it at risk for the next generation. First, [Obamacare] funnels $716 billion out of Medicare to pay for a new entitlement we didn't even ask for. Second, it puts 15 unelected bureaucrats in charge of Medicare's future."

Medicare's Chief Actuary Rick Foster reports that by the end of this decade, Medicare will be paying less to doctors and hospitals for health care for seniors than Medicaid pays for health care for the poor. And Medicare will be falling further and further behind Medicaid each year. Ultimately, Medicare payment rates will be one-third of what will be paid by private insurance, and only half of what is paid by Medicaid.

But Medicaid does not pay enough for the poor on the program to get timely, essential health care, particularly the sickest and those most in need of the best health care. Academic studies show that the poor suffer worse health outcomes as a result, including premature death.

Under Obamacare, soon enough seniors will be lined up behind welfare mothers in trying to find doctors who will see them, and hospitals that will admit them. These cuts affect seniors already retired today, not just those years into the future.

Foster reports that even before these cuts already two-thirds of hospitals were losing money on Medicare patients. In a few short years, hospitals that serve seniors in particular will begin closing, and retirees will have increasing difficulty obtaining access to care. As Harvard University health economist Joe Newhouse explains, seniors will likely have to seek care at community health centers and safety net hospitals.


Peter Ferrara

Peter Ferrara is General Counsel for the American Civil Rights Union, a Senior Fellow at the Carleson Center for Public Policy and a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis.