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TomCADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-28-09 10:06 AM
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National Journal - Republicans' Stealth Atttack On Medicare
Note: The same article appears in today's LA Times under the title in the OP.


What Steele Left Out
The RNC chairman's pledge to preserve Medicare is incompatible with his party's visions of sweeping change.
by Ronald Brownstein

Friday, Aug. 28, 2009

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele's pledge this week to "protect Medicare" might have been more convincing had it not come five months after nearly four-fifths of House Republicans voted to literally end the program as we know it for all Americans younger than 55.

They cast that vote on April 2 in support of a GOP alternative budget plan that would have converted Medicare from an open-ended entitlement that guarantees seniors virtually unlimited access to care into a voucher system that provides future retirees only a fixed sum of money to purchase private health insurance. That approach -- a variation of legislation Republicans actually passed through the House when they controlled it in 2003 -- has some advocates among health policy experts. But this longstanding GOP prescription for Medicare emphatically violates most of the six principles that Steele enshrined this week as the pillars of a Republican "Health Care Bill of Rights" for seniors.
* * *
With polls showing seniors uneasy about Obama's health care plans, Steele this week committed Republicans to six reassuring goals on Medicare. Among them were avoiding cuts in the program and ensuring that seniors can keep their current coverage. But those pledges are flatly incompatible with the Medicare agenda that Republicans have pursued for the past decade -- and reaffirmed with their vote this spring.
* * *
Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, a leading GOP fiscal thinker, revived the idea this year by inserting into the House Republican budget an especially aggressive version of premium support. Ryan proposed to maintain the existing Medicare program, which is open to seniors once they turn 65, for all current recipients and anyone else who is at least 55 today. But the bill mandated that all younger Americans, once they turn 65, would instead receive a voucher to purchase private insurance (with sicker and poorer seniors receiving larger vouchers). In Ryan's proposal, unlike the 2003 Republican plan, new retirees would not even have the option of buying into traditional fee-for-service Medicare once the voucher system is implemented; Medicare as it now exists would disappear once the last retirees still eligible for it passed away. House Republicans backed the GOP budget including that plan to phase out conventional Medicare this April by a vote of 137-38, but it was rejected amid unanimous Democratic opposition.

Ryan, like other proponents, argues that premium support would provide seniors "more direct control over health care decisions" while saving Washington money. But critics like Rother say that converting Medicare into a voucher would increase costs for all beneficiaries and over time force less-affluent seniors to accept lower-quality care. "It is a very dangerous idea," he says.

The virtues and risks of premium support have never been fully examined. But at the least, the GOP drive to replace Medicare with a voucher renders ridiculous Steele's pledge to maintain the program as it stands for seniors who like it that way. Far from preserving Medicare, as Steele insists, leading Republicans have repeatedly demonstrated that they want to remake it much more fundamentally than anything Obama has proposed.

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sinkingfeeling Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-28-09 10:11 AM
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1. This story should be in every newspaper and talked about endlessly on the 'news shows'.
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TomCADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-28-09 01:22 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. Listen To NPR's Interview of Michael Steele
It was not overly aggressive, but Steele tied himself into knots trying to reconcile the GOP's platform with their sudden "defense" of Medicare.
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Laelth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-28-09 11:37 AM
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2. k&r for exposure. n/t

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redqueen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-28-09 01:28 PM
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4. Yep... they want to end these programs, they always have. (nt)
Edited on Fri Aug-28-09 01:28 PM by redqueen
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