The GOP Now Owns the Medicare Issue

A number of prominent ex-Journolist members and reliably left leaning media lackeys are working overtime repeating one line over and over to try to aid the Obama Campaign...that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are going to end Medicare and leave seniors without coverage. The exact opposite is true, as I'll demonstrate, but even more important is how this is going to turn over on the Obama Campaign. It's a hanging curve ball just waiting to be hit out of the park.

First of all, let's start with a simple truth. Medicare is going broke, and if nothing is done, the program will be bankrupt in around a decade.

The Obama Administration has accelerated this process by stealing around $716 billion from the program in order to fund a new entitlement, Obama Care. And contrary to what they're telling you, these are not 'administrative costs' but actual reductions in service. ObamaCare is set to destroy Medicare Advantage, a program 12 million seniors use. It is already causing the rationing of cancer drugs and a de facto rationing of care that is going to get a lot worse as the Independent Payment Advisory Boards (IPABs), 15 unelected government officials, exercise the death panel style function they were designed for in ObamaCare and cut the payments to doctors and hospitals to the bone so that fewer and fewer of them can afford to accept Medicare patients. It is major rationing for seniors and ultimately the death of a thousand cuts for Medicare as a whole.

It is ObamaCare that was specifically designed to destroy Medicare, and to herd seniors into a one size fits all plan where care to them can be rationed with impunity. And even Dr. Donald Berwick, President Obama's personal choice to run Medicare and Medicaid admitted it's one of ObamaCare's ultimate aims, as did Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the president's chief healthcare advisers.

And unlike the final Medicare reform plan submitted by Paul Ryan, and the one outlined by Mitt Romney, these cuts directly affect current retirees.

Now you know who really wants to push grandma over the cliff.

By contrast, the plans advocated by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan save Medicare.

No one over 55 is affected, and people younger than 55 have the option of traditional 1965-style Medicare if they want to...or premium support from government to pay for competing private insurance plans.

If you choose, you can swap today's "defined benefit" Medicare system where the government decides on the price they'll pay for medical services for a "defined contribution" system, where the government decides on an amount of money -- "premium support" -- to provide to individual consumers and then lets them choose from an approved set of competing private insurance plans. And there's an open enrollment period each year allowing people to change their minds if they feel like it.

Not only that, but with this kind of system, there will almost certainly be supplemental plans marketed to those seniors who wish to purchase them along with traditional Medicare.

Now, there's a concept -- giving people the right to choose among insurers seeking Medicare customers for the services seniors feel are most appropriate for their needs, and allowing the competition of the private sector to increase efficiency and drive down costs.

Ah, but what happens if the "premium support"  provided to seniors to buy coverage wasn't enough, or if the amount's annual growth doesn't not keep up with the growth of health-care costs?

Wait, it gets better. Walk with me a moment.

First of all, seniors could always choose to opt for the traditional 1965-style Medicare, since the government would still contain a package of required benefits that would constitute comprehensive insurance coverage,  just as Medicare does today.

But each year  the plan calls for private insurers as well as Medicare to  submit competitive bids to the government to provide coverage at the lowest cost they could sustain profitably. The government would then provide seniors in each region of the country with a "premium support" equal to the second-lowest bid in that region or one equal to the bid of the federal fee-for-service Medicare program, whichever was lower.

That way, seniors would be guaranteed to have a choice -- there's that word again -- of at least one comprehensive coverage option that equals the premium support payment offered and that would involve the same level of out-of-pocket costs Medicare does today.

Of course, none of this touches on the huge savings in health care costs that need to be addressed on Medicare fraud (a $8 to $9 billion 'industry') or tort reform. We'll call that dessert, to be enjoyed later.

Even nicer is the corner the Democrats have painted themselves into politically.

Ever since 1965, the Democrats have been able to use the Medicare hammer to bash Republicans, using the same old 'throwing granny off the cliff' argument. Certainly it's been used in every campaign since Carter versus Reagan.

Even intelligent leftists still don't realize what Obamacare has done to them. They might realize that ObamaCare cost them the 2010 midterms and that the hugely unpopular legislation is a rallying cry in this one. But they don't seem to realize yet that Medicare isn't their issue any longer.

The Democrats can lie, dissemble and rant, but they can't change a basic truth. They can either defend ObamaCare, which was designed to destroy Medicare, or they can disavow ObamaCare.They can't do both.

It's President Obama who has put Democrats in the position of being the party that is cutting current seniors' benefits, rationing care (thanks to the IPABs)and letting the program collapse as it becomes unsustainable.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have positioned the GOP to be the party that wants to protect seniors' benefits and make them available for future generations.

If you're a senior, the Democrats are offering you nothing except a grim, mean, rationed future when it comes to medical care.

It's the Republicans that are offering a much better deal, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see this being hammered over and over.

Like I said, it's a hanging curve ball just begging to be hit out of the park.

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