Archive for August, 2012

We Don’t Need the Ryan Plan − Medicare Is NOT Going Broke

According to researchers from the Urban Institute, writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, Medicare’s purported dire financial condition isn’t actually all that dire. Given the aging of our population, increases in enrollment have obviously contributed to spending growth. But, according to the Urban Institute, “in recent years “spending growth per enrollee slowed in Medicare and Medicaid, and per-enrollee growth rates in the next decade are projected to be very close to the expected growth in [Gross Domestic Product] per capita. These data do not support the need for major restructuring of either program.” (emphases added)[1]

In short, contrary to repeated assertions, Medicare is not broke, going “bankrupt” or running out of funds,[2]. Further, Medicare provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have improved Medicare’s economic outlook − extending the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund by 8 years.[3]

The real problem that needs to be addressed is rising overall health care costs. Overall healthcare expenditures per capita in the United States are higher than in any other country, and show no signs of slowing.[4] Addressing US health system costs in general is the only real solution to the fiscal issues ahead. The Affordable Care Act addresses many of these pressing concerns. Let it work.

[1] Holahan, J., McMorrow, S. Medicare, Medicaid and the Deficit Debate. Washington DC: Urban Institute, April 2012. Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, August 2012.
[2] See, e.g., “Medicare is Not Bankrupt” by Paul N. Van de Water, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (April 24, 2012), available at:http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index
[3] See, e.g., CMS Press Release: “Medicare Stable, But Requires Strengthening” (April 23, 2012), available at:http://www.cms.gov/apps/media/press/release.asp
[4] See, e.g. Kaiser family Foundation at http://www.kff.org/insurance/snapshot

August 30, 2012 at 6:48 pm Leave a comment

Fight for Medicare

The so-called Medicare wars are really a unilateral assault to the community Medicare program by those who favor privatization. Private plans are well known to cost more within and outside of Medicare. For decades, various experiments with private Medicare plans have proved more expensive than traditional Medicare. Nothing in Mr. Ryan’s plan is new or any more likely to save Medicare money. In fact, his plan would reintroduce vast overpayments to private Medicare plans that were rolled back by the Affordable Care Act. If the goal is to save Medicare, provide fair access to health care for its beneficiaries, and reduce spending – defeat efforts to turn Medicare into a private voucher system.

August 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm Leave a comment

Ryan Plan is Not About Helping Medicare or the Deficit

Here’s the truth follks: Rep. Ryan’s plan is about a governing philosophy, not about saving money, Medicare or reducing the deficit. If his plan was really about saving money, it would encourage movement back to traditional Medicare – which is less expensive than private plans. At the very least, his plan would equalize payments between traditional Medicare and private plans. But Mr. Ryan wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s payment reductions to private Medicare plans. Further, if Ryan’s private voucher system was really about deficit reduction, it would begin ASAP, not in 2022, as he proposes.

The Medicare “cuts” Mr. Ryan purports to be concerned about are almost entirely savings to Medicare’s expenses, which taxpayers and beneficiaries should welcome. They are largely from reducing wasteful overpayments to private plans and slowing increases for some providers, including hospitals, NOT from cuts in benefits. Neither taxpayers nor beneficiaries can afford to pay any more than is necessary to provide the same coverage available through traditional Medicare. Everyone should appreciate ACA’s efforts to hold down overall health care costs by looking to providers to create efficiencies in providing care.

The Affordable Care Act did not cut Medicare for beneficiaries; it added benefits (including an annual wellness visit, “Donut Hole” coverage for medicines, and no-cost preventive services). Thus, ACA represents a thoughtful approach to controlling health care costs, and reducing payments to private plans, while increasing Medicare coverage for valuable, cost-effective services. If his intent really was to save Medicare and money, Mr. Ryan would agree.

August 15, 2012 at 5:42 pm Leave a comment

Scary Ryan Medicare Plan

The Center for Medicare Advocacy is a national leader for Medicare and the people it serves. “We have represented Medicare beneficiaries since 1986,” says Judith Stein, founder and executive director of the Center. “We’ve seen Medicare coverage save lives and bring peace of mind to thousands of families. We know how Medicare works and what keeps Medicare strong. Mr. Ryan’s plan sounds the death knell for Medicare,” continues Ms. Stein. “The private plans added to Medicare since 2003 have cost Medicare and all its beneficiaries dearly. Unfortunately, Mr. Ryan’s vision is to privatize Medicare.”

The Ryan plan would provide each beneficiary with a limited amount to purchase an individual private policy. The Ryan plan would gut the community Medicare program. It would reduce coverage and increase costs for seniors – while doing nothing to address the real problem of rising overall health costs.

“Medicare has dramatically increased access to health care and economic security for millions of older and disabled people and their families since 1965. Mr. Ryan’s plan puts all this in jeopardy. He purports to save Medicare – but will actually end the Medicare program as we know it.”

More Information:

CMA Heath Policy Post: “Medicare ‘Reform’ – Beware the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” at: https://cmahealthpolicy.com/2011/12/16/medicare-reform-beware-the-wolf-in-sheeps-clothing/

CMA Alert: “So What Would You Do? real Solutions for Medicare Solvency and Reducing the Deficit” at: http://www.medicareadvocacy.org/2011/06/09/so-what-would-you-do-real-solutions-for-medicare-solvency-and-reducing-the-deficit/

August 13, 2012 at 5:15 pm Leave a comment


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