The Obama campaign is trying to put a new tag on Republican Medicare plans.Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan prefer the slightly more antiseptic term "premium support plan" to "vouchercare," but whatever you call it, their plan would end Medicare. Instead of receiving guaranteed coverage for health care expenses from Medicare, seniors would get vouchers (or "premium support") to buy their own private insurance—assuming they could find it.
"We are for Medicare, they are for voucher care," said Vice President Biden on Sunday in Green Bay, Wis. "It's basic."
There are a million reasons why this is a crazy idea, but Biden put it in terms even his political opponents should be able to understand:
During his Green Bay speech, Biden spoke of his late mother.Do we really want an America in which seniors are required to read the fine print of private insurance policies—assuming they can even find an affordable one given the size of their voucher? Paul Ryan would no doubt begin his defense of that idea by saying "it gets wonky," but the reality is that it doesn't. If you think this is an acceptable burden to shift onto seniors, you're totally out of touch.
"My mom was a smart woman," Biden said. "But, my mom, I can't picture handing her a voucher at age 80 and saying, you go out in the insurance market and you figure out what's best for you."
It's not just that the mechanics of vouchercare would be a nightmare, either. For the same level of coverage, the net cost of Medicare is less than private insurance. If you want to lower overall health care costs, Medicare is the way to go.
The Democratic attack on the Romney-Ryan vouchercare plan isn't going away anytime soon—yesterday in Detroit, Biden once again used the vouchercare line. Romney and Ryan will no doubt deflect the criticism by saying their plan wouldn't impact anyone older than age 55, but even if they are right to bank on the selfishness of people 55 and up, (a) there's a lot of people who are younger than 55 but are counting on Medicare and (b) if you're older than 55, do you really trust the politicians who ended Medicare to protect it once it stops taking new enrollees?