I can’t believe so many think Romney won last night’s debate. Apparently, those who did were looking at style, and ignoring the words coming out of the candidates’ mouths. Good thing voters aren’t as dumb as most pundits. Mark my words; seniors and those who have worked for 30+ years who hope to be seniors one day were horrified by what they heard, no matter how animated Romney was in saying it.
Romney actually said he plans to KILL Medicare as we know it. The program that you and/or your parents rely on for medical care after you retire, will go away eventually, if Willard has his way.
I also don't get a sense that Romney understands how the program works, anyway. For example, when the candidates were discussing Medicare, Romney promised that he could add a prescription drug program, if it was needed:
ROMNEY: I want to take that $716 billion you've cut and put it back into Medicare. By the way, we can include a prescription program if we need to improve it.
But the idea of cutting $716 billion from Medicare to be able to balance the additional cost of Obamacare is, in my opinion, a mistake.
And with regards to young people coming along, I've got proposals to make sure Medicare and Social Security are there for them without any question.
I’ll get to the lies in another post, but obviously, Obamacare doesn’t cut $716 billion from Medicare. In fact, it saves that much, and extends Medicare's solvency from 2016 to 2024. But is he not aware that Medicare already has a prescription drug program? By the way, the Democrats, through Obamacare, have greatly improved it. But look at what he’s starting to admit n the second bold section. He’s proposing to drastically change both Medicare and Social Security. He did later back off Social Security, but in reality, he doubled down on Medicare.
LEHRER: …do you support the voucher system, Governor?
ROMNEY: What I support is no change for current retirees and near-retirees to Medicare. And the president supports taking $716 billion out of that program.
ROMNEY: So that's -- that's number one.
Number two is for people coming along that are young, what I do to make sure that we can keep Medicare in place for them is to allow them either to choose the current Medicare program or a private plan. Their choice.
They get to choose -- and they'll have at least two plans that will be entirely at no cost to them. So they don't have to pay additional money, no additional $6,000. That's not going to happen. They'll have at least two plans.
Look at that very closely. First of all, note that he avoids the “voucher” question altogether. He’s actually proposing is to kill Medicare, which is actually the healthiest part of the health insurance industry. He plans to introduce a phony “competition” into a system that thrives because it offers the same basic health care to everyone.
The “no additional cost” claim is an outright lie. Medicare recipients already pay for additional health insurance, called “Part B”. What Romney is proposing is to take a significant portion of Medicare funds and divert it to private insurance, under the guise of “competition.” Keep in mind, he also intends to kill Obamacare and he plans to make copious cuts in federal spending to cover his $5 trillion in tax cuts, so it doesn’t take much to figure out what we’ll end up with should Romney get his way; a ghetto-ized health care system.
Right now, our Medicare system has produced excellent results because it provides a basic level of care for all seniors. Seniors who want more than basic care have always been free to use their own money to purchase better care. But now, Romney’s plan would take so much money out of the Medicare system as to make it necessary for many to go elsewhere for care. Private insurers would only take the healthiest seniors (again, remember, he's repealing Obamacare), leaving Medicare with less money, even though they'll be left with the highest risk group. Consider what Romney said next:
ROMNEY: And by the way, if the government can be as efficient as the private sector and offer premiums that are as low as the private sector, people will be happy to get traditional Medicare or they'll be able to get a private plan.
I know my own view is I'd rather have a private plan. I'd just assume not have the government telling me what kind of health care I get. I'd rather be able to have an insurance company. If I don't like them, I can get rid of them and find a different insurance company. But people make their own choice.
If the government can be as efficient as the private sector? Has he even been conscious over the last 40 years? One of the biggest problems with private insurance companies has been their INefficiency. Medicare pays bills; traditionally, private insurance companies have been refusing to pay bills and denying claims almost routinely. Hospitals used to have huge administrative departments dedicated to simply trying to get payment from insurance companies.
And Romney is completely out of touch if he thinks private insurance companies will let us choose their private plan. That hasn’t been the case for years, which is why we’ve needed health insurance reform for a long time. Insurance companies largely choose us. Those seniors who need the most care will NOT have a choice; private insurance companies attempting to mitigate risk will do everything they can to not take anyone who might actually need health care, beyond a couple of annual doctors’ visits.
Of course, Willard Romney is rich; he can afford to pay for whatever insurance he decides he wants. He has a choice. But a senior widow with a reduced Social Security check can’t necessarily afford anything at all.
If you think a ghetto-ized Medicare system, in which the only people “stuck” with Medicare are those who can’t afford anything else and those who can’t get other insurance will actually “save” Medicare and keep it solvent for a longer period of time, you don’t understand basic arithmetic. Higher costs and reduced funding surely won't "fix" Medicare.
One other thing about his Medicare position that should make everyone mad is his promise to keep Medicare alive for “current seniors.” His definition of "young" is troubling. Basically, if you’re already 65, or turn 65 in the next 5-10 years, you’re okay, according to Willard; you’ll get exactly what you’ve been paying Medicare taxes for. But those of us in the 40-55 age group, who have spent the last 20-30 years paying Medicare taxes, won’t necessarily get what we paid for.
Of course,, Willard's arithmetic doesn't add up here, either, because there will be less and less money to provide care for "current seniors" or those turning 65 over the next ten years. Everyone knows that today's Medicare payments go to today's seniors, and next generation's will go to the next seniors, etc. The problem is, with more people are living to be 90+, how does Willard plan to cover them fully for the next 35-40 years with dwindling Medicare funds beng diverted to private insurance companies? There is no way such a transition won't cost tens of billions of dollars.
At the heart of everything is Romney's promise to kill Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act. Now, he claims his “plan” which he’s rather circumspect about, would include coverage for pre-existing conditions, but that hasn't been the only problem with health insurance coverage. In addition to that problem, insurance companies were also refusing coverage to anyone who might actually need to use it. They were actively avoiding risk, which is natural, given that their main object in being in business is to maximize revenue and profit. Without the safeguards put in place by Obamacare, we’ll go back to the same risk avoidance habits insurance companies engaged in before, and health care inflation will go back into the double digits, where it has been since the dawn of the for-profit insurance companies 30 years ago. Now, Romney claims he wants the states to pick up the slack, but they haven't to date, so what will make them suddenly pick up the slack?
Basically, Romney not only wants to repeal Obamacare and revert us back to the old system of insurance, which was taking the country broke, he wants to extend that system into the seniors market, and extend that inefficiency and sloth into the Medicare system.
Romney told a number of bald-faced lies about Obamacare and Medicare last night, which I’ll get to in another post, but frankly, it’s his "truthful" intention to destroy Medicare and replace it with the private insurance people used to have that seems the most frightening revelation of the night.