The presidential campaign is overflowing with claims from both sides designed to scare seniors into thinking Medicare is being gutted or about to end altogether. Lost in the flurry of attack ads and political messaging is a policy debate on how best to reduce the growth of Medicare spending, a common goal of both campaigns. If all voters know about Medicare is what the candidates tell them in TV spots and stump speeches, they are going to be poorly prepared to understand the changes that could be coming, no matter which party wins the White House.
http://factcheck.org/2012/08/a-campaign … mediscare/
Fact Check.org misses the boat on this analysis, Ralph. Their attempt at objectivity looks carefully at the trees but fails to see the forest. They keep referring to seniors "current beneficiaries." The whole idea of the right wingers is to separate current beneficiaries from those approaching retirement -- it's the old divide and conquer theory. This division weakens the current beneficiaries as well as those who are approaching retirement. The tactic is not much different from the right's efforts to kill the labor unions by dividing union workers from non-union workers. Ignoring the motives of the right wing does not produce an unbiased, balanced look at the Medicare or Social Security programs. The right has succeeded in making the argument about spending while ignoring the other half of the equation: fair taxation.
Here's what PolitiFact has to say wrt Medicare:
How Romney would change Medicare
As for Romney’s plan, it’s important to note that it has not been been set out in full detail, and it hasn’t been analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office. But we’ll explain it as best we can.
Romney has said his plan would be close to the most recent one offered by his running mate, Paul Ryan. For people who are now under age 55, Medicare would no longer pay for seniors’ health care bills directly. Instead, the government would offer future beneficiaries fixed payments -- voucher-like credits -- that could go toward private plans. Beneficiaries could use those credits to select a traditional Medicare plan or a private plan from a competitive marketplace, or exchange, that complies with standards set by the government. The amount a beneficiary receives would be based on the second least-expensive plan available.
We know that the Romney plan, like the status quo, would preserve the guarantee that people will start receiving coverage under a federal health care program when they turn 65. (The age threshold would gradually rise to 67 by 2034.)
Less clear is whether the operational changes Romney would make would undermine the guarantee of benefits under Medicare. The Romney campaign argues that not only would be traditional Medicare be a choice, but that private plan offerings must provide coverage at least comparable to what Medicare provides today, and that those plans would be Medicare-approved.
However, since CBO hasn’t weighed in, we don’t know whether the premium subsidy would be able to cover the same set of benefits as traditional Medicare, or how much it would add to out-of-pocket costs to beneficiaries, especially over the longer term.
The Obama campaign argues that "Romney has said that under his voucher system, plans have to offer coverage that is ‘comparable’ to Medicare today" -- a term they believe falls short of a guarantee of specific benefits.
But Yuval Levin, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a domestic policy staffer on health-care issues for President George W. Bush, says that’s a smokescreen. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services "establishes the benefits covered by Medicare each year, and the private insurers in Medicare Advantage and Part D, the drug benefit, are required to cover at least that minimum benefit or its actuarial equivalent. That's exactly the Romney proposal."
Under the most recent plan, Levin said, "seniors are guaranteed at least one and generally two options that provide comprehensive coverage for no greater out-of-pocket costs than they have now."
Levin also disputes the notion that the Romney plan is a pure defined-contribution plan. "The Romney approach is a hybrid of defined benefit and defined contribution," he said. "The minimum benefit is set by the government, and all competing insurers must meet it, but the government payment is determined by competitive bidding among those insurers to see how cheaply they can provide at least that minimum benefit."
The most recent Republican plans have lessened the likelihood that Medicare’s payment will fall behind the actual rise in health care costs, experts say, but given the limited details, there’s still some uncertainty on this front.
Under the Romney plan, MIT’s Gruber said, you have the same political risk of a broken guarantee as you have today, but that guarantee is compounded by health spending risk. "As health spending rises faster than your voucher, you are in trouble," he said.
In the ad, Obama said he "will protect your guaranteed benefits" in Medicare, while "Mitt Romney would take away Medicare as guaranteed benefits."
Obama exaggerates when he refers to "guaranteed" Medicare benefits under today’s system. Currently, Medicare does "guarantee" a form of health coverage for seniors and, in the shorter term, guarantees specific benefits. But Medicare doesn’t cover everything, and Congress and the president can change what is covered, and will be forced to do so when fiscal pressures hit.
Meanwhile, it’s plausible that the Romney plan could provide less of a "guarantee" than Medicare currently does, but we found sharp disagreement between supporters and opponents of Romney’s Medicare plan on that point. This disagreement is hard to resolve given the shortage of information Romney has so far provided.
On balance, we rate the claim Half True.
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter … der-medic/
I'm sure that Ryan and Romney both would like to "privatize" both Medicare and Social Security if they could. Ryan has backed off a bit on his original plan for Medicare out of political expediency and/or because Romney told him to lay off his Ayn Rand inspired position. I'm convinced that the Ryan-Romney plan would, in effect, end Medicare as we know it for everyone currently under age 55. And if they could get away with it, they would privatize Social Security as well, ending what is arguably FDR's most effective and popular program.
I doubt that either the Obama or the Romney plan goes far enough to solve unsustainable increases in health care costs. The answer will be a combination of various improvements in the health care system including more cost effective methods and elimination of unnecessary tests and procedures (of which there are plenty) and some form of rationing or elimination of futile end-of-life procedures.
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