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August 25, 2012

Column: Ryan’s Medicare plan mirrors that enjoyed by Congress

“Governor Romney now owns the Republican, Ryan budget that puts millionaires ahead of Medicare and the middle class,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California recently snapped.

“By picking Representative Paul Ryan, Governor Romney has doubled down on his commitment to gut Social Security and end Medicare as we know it,” Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada snarled.

Pelosi and Reid know better. Presumptive GOP running mate Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform proposal is as extreme as the health plan available to every member of Congress. Ryan envisions average seniors enjoying Capitol Hill-style medical options. This, itself, would be a choice. Seniors who oppose choice in health coverage will be 100 percent welcome to remain within traditional Medicare.

Ryan’s “far-Right” Medicare reform is co-sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon liberal Democrat. (2010 Americans for Democratic Action rating: 100 percent.) Unlike most Democrats, Wyden understands that if Medicare traverses today’s path, by 2024, it will tumble into a canyon.

As he and Ryan (2010 ADA rating: 0 percent) unveiled their legislation last December, Wyden said: “Paul has also long-shared my view that the best way to hold down health costs is to give all Americans the ability to hire and fire their insurance company.”

Wyden/Ryan would do just that, although no time soon.

“Americans currently over the age of 55 would see no changes to the structure of their benefits,” their bill summary states. “Starting in 2022, Medicare would begin offering seniors a choice among Medicare-approved private plans competing alongside a traditional Medicare plan.”

So, Democratic horror stories about Republicans catapulting today’s seniors from cliffs prove to be lies. If the GOP ticket wins and enacts Wyden/Ryan, Medicare benefits will not change for a decade. If Romney and Ryan lose, however, seniors soon will feel the pain of President Barack Obama’s diversion of $716 billion from Medicare into Obamacare.

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