Adapt or Die

Posted: Jun 02, 2011 12:01 AM
Adapt or Die

This piece was co-authored by Jim Martin.

We are invested in saving Medicare, but we understand the senior health program is shackled by skyrocketing healthcare costs and overloaded by the approximately 10,000 seniors becoming eligible for Medicare daily. As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, stated, “Medicare is going to change, or it won’t be there for anyone.”

Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform proposal has become the epicenter of political discussions. His leadership and the boldness of his Republican counterparts to support the much-needed, Medicare-saving reforms is evidence of their commitment to the people and the promises they made during the campaign.

Under the current structure, Medicare will be short tens of trillions of dollars when delivering the benefits Washington promised seniors, pointing this government program straight toward bankruptcy. Unfortunately, under ObamaCare, the program is not only underfunded, but it will soon become under-doctored. After cutting $500 billion from Medicare, the president hopes those “savings” will come by paying doctors, hospitals and other health care providers less – essentially dis-incentivizing the treatment of America’s Greatest Generation.

According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, “the president’s plan is going to cause pain for seniors. It’s going to spend progressively less than everybody else is spending on health care. The seniors are going to have a harder time finding a doctor who will see them, facilities that will admit them.”

When lowering the reimbursement rate for doctors and hospitals can no longer provide enough savings, President Obama has empowered an unelected board of 15 bureaucrats to ration care for today’s seniors. Democrats wrongfully claim Republicans are “killing” Medicare, but under their proposal, the health care program is already on its death bed.

RyanCare, on the other hand, ensures current and soon-to-be seniors will have unaffected access to existing Medicare programs, while those under 55 will receive quality health care benefits under a sustainable Medicare structure that will be available for generations to come.

Under Rep. Ryan’s budget proposal which was boldly passed in the House by a nearly unanimous Republican caucus, younger Americans will qualify for the same health benefit program that current federal employees (ironically including Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who have come out against this structure for seniors) receive. More specifically, the legislation would subsidize seniors’ purchase of private health insurance, forcing competition among insurance providers and leading them to provide the best possible options and the most affordable price for future Medicare recipients.

Unfortunately, Rep. Ryan’s proposal has come under attack – not because it is bad policy, but because it is “bad” politics. As veteran policy wonks, we understand, however, that good politics makes weak policy. Most recently, Democrats attempted to use “Medi-scare” tactics in New York’s 26th Congressional District to attack the courageous Medicare reform proposal. While they are swift to attack, Democrats have failed to develop their own Medicare solutions – even while they controlled both the White House and Congress for two years.

Our country – a nation so many seniors put their lives on the line to protect – is wrestling with a $14.3 trillion debt. We need strong leadership to make the tough decisions that put this country and our economy back on track, while preserving the important programs our seniors are due, and we applaud those elected officials who have chosen to keep their promise to seniors by strengthening Medicare for our children and grandchildren.

The status quo means Medicare will go bankrupt and seniors will lose their coverage completely. Washington has been given a choice when it comes to Medicare: Adapt the program or let it die.

Jim Martin is Chairman of the 60 Plus Association