Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ryan: ObamaCare Ends Medicare, Debt Talks: Medicare Cuts Likely

The World According to Ryan: President Obama Seeks End to Medicare

Feeling the heat for his plan to repeal Medicare, today Paul Ryan said that really it's ObamaCare that ends Medicare as we know it.  "Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) just broke a land speed record for his pivot from decrying Democratic 'Mediscare' attacks on the GOP budget to attacking Democrats for wanting to end 'Medicare as we know it.'  In an interview with WISN, a local ABC News Affiliate in Wisconsin, Ryan responded to the fact that his budget, endorsed by almost every member of the Republican party, is extremely unpopular."

Ryan points to the $500 billion in Medicare savings over 10 years under the health care reform law (largely overpayments to private insurers) and argues that those savings "end Medicare as we know it."  In the meantime, his own plan "actually sustains those $500 billion in cuts, while repealing just about all other parts of the health care law."  Seems like Rep. Ryan has a new twist almost every day.

Medicare and Medicaid Cuts Likely Outcome of Budget Talks

According to the New York Times, "Obama administration officials are offering to cut tens of billions of dollars from Medicare and Medicaid in negotiations to reduce the federal budget deficit, but the depth of the cuts depends on whether Republicans are willing to accept any increases in tax revenues.  Administration officials and Republican negotiators say the money can be taken from health care providers like hospitals and nursing homes without directly imposing new costs on needy beneficiaries or radically restructuring either program."

While it's welcome to hear that beneficiaries will not be penalized directly, the health care sector is a major part of our economy and employs many people working for low wages.  Health care is a labor intensive industry, and these hands-on people are among the most likely to lose work in a funding crunch.  Then, the quality of services is likely to suffer.  Any cuts to Medicare and Medicaid need to be carefully thought out to avoid hurting the economy and the quality of care.


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