The Canard Over Current Seniors, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 15 2012 @ 11:41am

by Chris Bodenner

A reader writes:

The Ryan Medicare plan absolutely will effect people currently on Medicare.  If you establish that in 10 years the Medicare risk pool will stop growing and start shrinking, you do damage to how the program works.  First, you increase the risk in the pool and drive up cost by stopping younger healthier seniors from entering the plan.  Second, as the pool shrinks Medicare looses power to dictate reimbursement rates.  Doctors will begin not to accept Medicare patients because not only will the volume of patients no longer justify the low reimbursement rates, but those left in the pool will be older, sicker and more expensive to treat.  The program that they say will be in place will not only become much more expensive to maintain then projected, but it will collapse on itself.

Why Wasserman-Shultz can't communicate this, I do not know.  Democrats, particularly in Congress, are generally their worst spokespeople.  It is absolutely maddening.

Another is on the same page:

While it appears that Ms. Wasserman Schultz is not a policy wonk and was not prepared for the question, the assertion that the Ryan plan for Medicare would affect current seniors is not a canard.   Mr. Ryan’s plan affects current beneficiaries in two (albeit indirect) ways:

First, the only reason that many doctors put up with the low reimbursement rates offered under Medicare is because of the sheer size of the program.  Start creating incentives to shrink the program, and it becomes less enticing for doctors to continue to take Medicare patients. So seniors would continue to have their traditional Medicare but fewer doctors willing to treat them.

Second, the Ryan plan destroys the political/social contract between older citizens and younger workers.  Why should I continue to pay for the healthcare of people who happen to be over 55 when the Ryan plan says I have no chance of ever getting that kind of coverage?  I find that prospect insulting, frankly.  I refuse to be part of that system.  Ryan’s plan creates a generational divide that will eat away at the consensus behind providing health care for older citizens, which is what I suspect he wants.

Lastly, the Guy Benson "narration" really set me off.  Democrats HAVE a plan to start putting Medicare on a sustainable path – it’s called ObamaCare.

Another expands on that point:

One of the primary purposes of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is to slow Medicare cost growth, primarily by limiting fee-for-service payments and making Medicare Advantage payments more competitive. Plus, there are a host of pilot programs to examine other ways to contain overall health care cost growth for the country. Ryan's plan doesn't constrain health care cost growth; it merely shifts the cost for care to private citizens. In fact, the CBO acknowledges that total health care costs are likely to be higher under Ryan's plan and would grow much faster.

Another adds:

Fact: The Ryan plan would repeal Obamacare – including the closing of the donut hole. That would effect CURRENT seniors on Medicare – costing them up to thousands a year.