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It's not THEIR ox being gored, so why do they fight to keep this valued program?

The nomination of Paul Ryan for the office of Vice President has again raised the specter of his “Path to Prosperity” plan as it relates to the future of Medicare. While the Republicans are trying to cast this plan as a way to “save” Medicare, in fact it will destroy it in the year 2022. Ryan’s plan, as clearly articulated, would substitute a voucher system, and return us to the private sector for coverage of seniors – the same system that gave us the highest health care costs and inferior results over the past decades.

However, in presenting the plan, Ryan and other conservatives consistently make it clear – the plan would not affect today’s seniors who will remain on Medicare. That is an overt attempt to mollify today’s seniors and elicit their support.  Why? They know how objectionable this plan really is to seniors (present and future). Thankfully, thus far, the plan failed, but that did not assuage most of my senior contemporaries. In fact, to their credit, it is today’s seniors who are leading the fight to get this terrible plan set back (but unfortunately not now forgotten). As a 79 year old senior myself who has enjoyed the benefits of Medicare for over a decade, I want to offer kudos to my peer group for their unflinching preservation of this excellent program as we know it today.

Meanwhile, since it's not "our" ox being gored...why then is it TODAY'S seniors who are fighting the good fight to retain Medicare in the future? Here are a few good reasons:


American history is filled with the actions of groups who fight for causes that are more relevant to future generations than their own.  In a sense that was part of the American Revolution. It is also true of union activism – with raises and rights that benefit future workers even more than those who battle for them. And it is always true of long range social programs. To this end, I see today’s seniors as fighting not for a valued benefit (Medicare) that they enjoy, but showing a concern for their children and grandchildren who will face the health care challenges years ahead.  Changes are needed, but not vouchers.

Making a statement

The seniors who now participate in Medicare desire to make a clear statement: this is a plan we like, we appreciate, we use, and is of signficant value. The fact that we will continue to enjoy it also makes a statement to those who follow us, it is something you should have as well. And we will help you retain it.

Fear factor

 As owner and manager of my own business for 45 years, I early on noticed that it is unwise to castigate employees in front of others. The reason: when an employee sees you reaming out another one, the thought goes through their mind: “if this is the way he treats people, I could be next!”  So it is with the Ryan plan to disassemble Medicare. True it is now only relevant to folks 55 and under, and would not take effect until 10 years from now. But having said that, today’s seniors also fear that once passed, the same people who are trying to eliminate Medicare might also then ramp up the timetable and make it effective sooner to eventually affect them. After all, the ultimate goal of Ryan and his compatriots is to fully privatize health care in America; and given that objective, there is no reason to believe they will not attempt to do it sooner rather than later.


Finally, I like to attribute the best motives to my generation. And that would be that they see certain government programs (Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security among them) as being valuable components of a well run, fair, healthy, and secure society. Thus, the retention of Medicare for future generations means a better America now and in the future.

Final word

The motives of Ryan and other conservatives are transparent. Under the guise of mitigating the deficit, they are attempting to make serious and significant social reforms in our country by eliminating government programs they dislike, and privatizing all that they are able to.  Medicare seems an easy target. Yes, it has some fiscal challenges, but the Ryan solution to destroy it in favor of a private program is not only less desirable to seniors but also had it own suspect cost projections.  Instead, today’s seniors would buy into preserving Medicare by accepting tweaks and changes that would make it more fiscally viable for the future.

Ryan’s original failed plan does have some value for today’s seniors; however, because it gives a quick but highly instructive “peek” at the way Romney, Ryan and conservatives are striving to reshape America. And most seniors did not like what they see, at least when it comes to their health care. To that end, it may be a marker that seniors will use when going to the voting booth Nov.6.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Current Seniors better also look at Medicaid (5+ / 0-)

    Paul Ryan proposes bigtime cuts to Medicaid as well.  Medicaid spending comprises 50% for Senior Care in Facilities and if Ryan pulls the plug on that it means many Seniors with Alzheimers and other symtoms will soon be out in the streets.

  •  Those Seniors Gave Tea Party Historic Victory 2 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Margd, Hockeyray

    years ago. They'd been deluded by the rightwing into thinking Obamacare had cut into Medicare, as the Democrats failed to promote and explain the program to voters in an epic display of political malpractice.

    The senior midterm vote actually increased over their 08 presidential turnout, while all the other demographics went down, and women moved Republican over health care. Now the Democrats have to undo an established view in order to convince seniors that the very real threat to the program is coming from Republicans and not from Democrats. That's a very difficult goal to accomplish in this short time frame with the corporate media so resistant to progressive voices and ideas.

    Unless there's signs of the senior demographic flipping to D soon, which I've not heard anyone cite, seniors will vote in November to end Medicare as we've had it.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 12:35:32 PM PDT

    •  That may all be true, but now is the time to (3+ / 0-)

      change that.

      What MOST seniors DO know is that their drugs are cheaper and MOST didn't have any association with Medicare Advantage, so the former group is large, the latter smaller. Much smaller.

      THAT is why there is a great opportunity here. We have to get over 2010 and keep pushing.

      202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

      by cany on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 12:59:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ask the seniors you know how they feel about the (0+ / 0-)

      very real possibility that our grandchildren will spend a significant portion of their adult lives worrying about how to take care of their parents (our children) and/or doing it themselves.

      My son and three step daughters are in their mid and late 40s and some have pre-existing conditions. What they don't have is time to save enough money to replace what would have been their earned Medicare benefit.

      When I think about our grandchildren and the futures my husband and I wished for them as we opened their modest college accounts, I feel disgusted by the GOP and every Republican I know.

      Eliminate tax breaks that stimulate the offshoring of jobs.

      by RJDixon74135 on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 03:02:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  From one senior to another: superb job. (6+ / 0-)

    I think many, many seniors will not buy the your Medicare is safe, we just want to trash it for younger people. Those are our children and grandchildren. They are more important to us than we are to ourselves.

    We have only just begun and none too soon.

    by global citizen on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 12:46:22 PM PDT

  •  I've got six years until I qualify, if I live that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hockeyray, Dave in Northridge

    long. But I am with you 100%.

    Medicare needs to be used to support everyone in this country, not just retirees and not just those that will make the cut.

    Thanks for fighting the good fight. I am with you!

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 12:56:11 PM PDT

    •  If... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave in Northridge, splashoil

      Instead of the ACA (Obamacare) we had just added anyone who wants to utilize Medicare to the program, we would have had a great response, lower health care costs, and eventually universal health care (like all other civilized countries)

      •  myles - Medicare premiums are 70-90% subsidized (0+ / 0-)

        depending on income. Adding people would negatively impact Medicare unless they paid a premium above the actual healthcare cost of having them in the program.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 01:42:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not sure that is true (0+ / 0-)

          What I DO know however, is that Medicare administrative costs are about 6%; the new health care legislation caps private insurers at 20% -- still a huge difference. It used to be more. Remember,  private insurers have huge management salaries, and are designed for PROFIT. It is a major factor in our high insurance rates.

          •  myles - just using your numbers (0+ / 0-)

            people could join Medicare but only at a 15% discount to the private market price. That would certainly be a benefit but it would not be close to the pricing for seniors, who have a very heavily subsidized price.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 02:06:09 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I'll qualify in a little more than 2 years (0+ / 0-)

    I also know that the minute that this ridiculous plan is enacted its authors will try to voucherize the WHOLE thing saying they miscalculated how much allowing the Baby Boomers to have real Medicare would cost.

    I think the real cue is the fact that Rick Scott is running away from the Ryan budget. If Governor Venal health-care executive doesn't like it, it must be as terrible as we think it is.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 01:25:35 PM PDT

  •  And here's another reason (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra Waites

    Like Social Security, Medicare works on the basis of a transfer of money from younger working people to retirees.  The benefits today's retirees receive for health care comes from the people who are still working. Younger people are willing to make these contributions because they have been assured that the same benefits will be there for them someday.

    Let's imagine for a minute that the Ryan proposal for Medicare has been enacted and the working generation realizes that they are never going to have the coverage for health care that current retirees have. How long do you think workers will be willing to continue contributing toward Medicare?

    Ryan's change totally undermines the contract between generations. If today's Medicare recipients (and I am one) believe that they won't be affected by the Ryan proposal, they are very badly mistaken.

    " a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy." Matt Taibbi

    by Getreal1246 on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 01:49:08 PM PDT

  •  also we don't believe them (0+ / 0-)

    that they'd protect people born before 1957 or whatever. Ryan is just saying that to try to not lose Florida as badly and to sound less mean. But it's against his true philosophy. If he thought he could get away with it, or if the crazies in his own party pushed it through Congress, he'd be all in to just eliminate the whole thing.

    Also remember that AARP, the big force on this one, isn't just seniors -- you can join at age 50, so their members are divided between the "protected" and "screwed" cohorts.

  •  There will probably be one more threat, (0+ / 0-)

    because those who will be "affected" won't stand idly by and pay into something they are told they won't benefit from. Look for another contingent of supporters for an earlier Medicare/Medicaid disassembly in them.

    Moderation in most things.

    by billmosby on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 08:02:31 PM PDT

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