Friday, December 9, 2011

Romney & Gingrich on Medicare, Republican Politics As Usual, Berwick Departure

RomneyCare vs. GingriSystem

There's more than one way to skin a cat, and Mr. Romney and Mr. Gingrich each have their own way of repealing Medicare without coming right out and saying so.  Mr. Romney favors a voucher-like system, and Mr. Gingrich would re-make Medicare into its own separate system of health care (typical of a policy wonk, we might say).  Of course, details are sketchy at best for any possible plan that might be devised.

"Mitt Romney’s campaign is ripping into Newt Gingrich over his past criticism of Paul Ryan’s plan to replace Medicare with a private voucher system.  So what’s the actual difference between the two candidates’ proposals?  Romney, of course, isn’t exactly offering voters a chance to vote for Ryan Plan either.  And back when Ryan debuted his controversial -- and widely disliked -- plan to change Medicare in to a voucher system, Romney was vague in his response."

The Romney Plan:  "Despite his cautious initial response to the Ryan plan, when Romney put out his own plan, conservative wonks were pleasantly surprised to find it retained many similar features.  It would gradually replace the current system [emphasis added] with a premium support system in which seniors could buy private coverage on their own.  Unlike Ryan’s plan, it keeps 'traditional' fee-for-service Medicare as one of these plans.  However, if the private plans end up being cheaper than Medicare, seniors have to pay the difference out of pocket to keep it."

The Gingrich Plan:  " ... seniors would be able to purchase private insurance with a voucher, a la Paul Ryan, or stick with Medicare.  Sounds like Romney, right?  Not quite.  As the Wall Street Journal notes in an editorial today, the difference is that under Gingrich’s proposal, Medicare won’t be just another plan competing with the premium support system that seniors can purchase with a voucher, but a whole separate system in and of itself [emphasis added]."

The Wall Street Journal Editorial:  The Newtitlement State -- On Medicare, Mitt Romney has the bolder, better reform.  Interesting reading.

GOP Fake Compromise

"House Republicans have narrowed their internal differences and plan to move ahead next week with legislation to renew the current payroll tax cut, extend unemployment benefits, and prevent Medicare physicians from experiencing an automatic pay cut."  "According to GOP sources and members, the GOP plans to offset the cost of the payroll tax cut and the so-called Medicare doc fix in several ways."

"The legislation will include partisan, or largely partisan measures to rescind federal benefits from wealthy Americans, require families receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit to prove their children’s citizenship, and cuts to President Obama’s health care law.  It will also seek to force the administration to allow construction of the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline, that would run from the Canadian border, through the plains states, to the Gulf of Mexico -- a provision that has drawn an explicit veto threat."

Yes.  That's the same pipeline that the ideologically Conservative 60 Plus Association has supported -- as if the pipeline was a policy related to older people or vital services for them.  We can't help but see the 60 Plus Association as a bogus enterprise, probably designed as a full employment program for its founder by tapping the "right" resources.

Parting Shot At Obstructionists

"Don Berwick, who left his job last week as head of the Medicare and Medicaid programs after sustained opposition from Senate Republicans who accused him of supporting rationing, struck back Thursday with a blistering attack on his critics.  'The true rationers are those who impede improvement, who stand in the way of change, and who thereby force choices that we can avoid through better care, Berwick said in a farewell speech in Orlando."

The Republican Reality-Free Zone


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