If you have paid close attention to the debate over Medicare vis-à-vis Paul Ryan’s budget plan—a plan endorsed by Mitt Romney as well as nearly every Republican in Congress—you will often hear fact-checkers and Republicans say a version of the following, as expressed in a Fox “News” headline in August of this year:
Fact Check: Obama running against outdated version of Ryan Medicare plan
Here is the argument, as presented in the article:
The Obama campaign would like voters to believe that Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan would “end Medicare as we know it” — privatizing the whole system and costing seniors more than $6,000 extra a year.
But the campaign, even before Ryan was selected as Mitt Romney’s running mate, has effectively been running against the wrong Ryan plan.
The president’s accusations largely refer to Ryan’s 2011 plan, ignoring the fact that the House Budget Committee chairman rolled out a different version in 2012 — taking into account Democratic critiques. Though the 2012 plan is more moderate, Obama and his surrogates have all but ignored the newer version as they amp up their accusations against the Romney-Ryan ticket.
Most glaringly, the campaign has omitted a key point.
While Ryan’s 2011 plan proposes to give seniors a government payment to buy private insurance, his 2012 plan offers seniors a choice.
Under the blueprint, seniors could use the payment to buy private insurance or stay in traditional Medicare.
Forget that phrase, “taking into account Democratic critiques,” which, the biased article alleges, compelled Ryan to change his plan. The point here is that the newest version of Ryan’s extremist plan gives seniors a “choice” between private insurance and Medicare as we know it, and that revised plan, despite what conservatives claim, still endangers traditional Medicare.
Democrats have argued that the choice, even under Ryan’s “more moderate” plan (!), would result in much higher costs for seniors, particularly sicker seniors, and would result in the end of Medicare as we know it because there is no requirement that private insurers “provide a standard set of benefits—allowing them to design benefits that attract healthier beneficiaries,” according to policy analysts at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Those analysts say:
Since the mid-1980s, private Medicare plans have attracted the healthiest, lowest-cost enrollees from the Medicare population—a phenomenon known as “adverse selection.” This trend would accelerate under the Romney-Ryan plan. If less healthy, more costly beneficiaries are left behind in traditional Medicare, then premiums for traditional Medicare would rise. In turn, more beneficiaries would leave traditional Medicare, causing premiums to rise further, and so on—creating a so-called “death spiral.”
Now, thanks to Tommy Thompson, former governor of Wisconsin, former Secretary of Health and Human Services under George Bush (“under his watch” the government was prohibited from negotiating drug prices on behalf of seniors), and currently the GOP candidate for U.S. Senate from Wisconsin, we can confirm the Democrats’ argument.
I hadn’t seen it until Monday night, but a video created in May of this year has Thompson saying:
… be able to take away the litigation that the trial lawyers are doing, so that doctors don’t have to keep doing extra things to protect themselves from getting sued, which drives up our costs.
Change Medicare and Medicaid like I did welfare — and who better than me, who’s already finished one of the entitlement programs, to come up with programs to do away with Medicaid and Medicare?
Let’s block-grant what the state has, and allow the states to determine what’s going to go into Medicaid. And Medicare, let’s wait until everybody that’s right now that’s under 55—that reaches 55 by age [sic] 2020—and give them a choice whether or not they want to purchase health insurance with a subsidy from the federal government, or stay on Medicare. I’m here to tell you, when you look at the situation nobody’s going to accept it, because Medicare’s going broke by the year 2022.
That’s the plan, folks. That’s what even the revised Ryan plan, or a similar one Tommy Thompson has in mind, is designed to accomplish. From the lips of a seasoned, “American conservative legend“:
“Do away with…Medicare.”