How Paul Ryan's Plan "Ends Medicare"

Posted: Apr 28, 2011 5:03 PM
A brilliant post by Jeffery Anderson at the Weekly Standard should be required reading for conservatives weary of hearing Democrats lie about the Ryan plan "ending" Medicare.  The fibs are coming fast and furious:

Before we get to Anderson's incisive statistics and commentary, a few important points.  (1) Both links above lead to dishonest Democratic attacks that either imply, or directly assert, that current seniors will lose Medicare benefits under the Ryan plan.  Untrue.  Nobody over the age of 54 will see any changes to their Medicare benefits or arrangement.  They're all "grandfathered in" to the status-quo system. 

(2) If Democrats are so concerned about current seniors losing their Medicare, why did they slash half a trillion dollars from the program last year?  And why are the feds forcing millions of seniors off of the popular Medicare Advantage program?  Why, to pay for a new government entitlement program the country didn't (and still doesn't) want, of course!  Now, onto Anderson's stubborn facts:

In light of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s shameless ad saying that the Paul Ryan-authored House Republican budget would “end Medicare,” it is worth noting that the Congressional Budget Office says that, in 2030, the Republican plan would give the average senior $18,276 in premium support to help purchase private health insurance ($15,000 in 2022, increased by 2.5 percent annually, to keep up with inflation). In addition, lower-income seniors would get another $9,504 to put into a medical savings account (an MSA) to use for additional medical expenses, bringing their annual tally of taxpayer-funded support to $27,780. 

Remember, that $18,276 figure is just the average premium support future seniors will receive, according to the CBO.  The way the House-passed Ryan program is designed, richer and healthier seniors will get lower government subsidies; sicker and less fortunate seniors will receive more support.  How...reasonable.  And truly indigent seniors will remain dual-eligible for Medicaid, which provides even more federal healthcare assistance (in addition to the Medicare plan's MSA subsidies).  So, setting Medicaid aside -- and focusing solely on Medicare -- how much federal spending will that amount to in 2030?

The Medicare Trustees Report (Table IV.C1) says that in 2030 there will be 80.424 million seniors enrolled in Medicare. Thus, in that year, Ryan’s plan would spend $1.470 trillion on Medicare premium support alone, in addition to the funding for the MSAs. That’s about 50 percent more than we would spend that year, under the Republican budget, on national defense.

As Anderson quips, spending nearly $1.5 Trillion annually on a major government program sure seems like a strange way to "end" it -- doesn't it?