NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan aren’t the only Republican politicians with a plan to end Medicare as we know it.
Earlier this year, Tennessee Republicans, including state Rep. Jim Gotto, co-sponsored the Health Care Compact bill (HB0369/SB0326), an extreme measure that endangers the health benefits of 800,000 Tennessee seniors enrolled in Medicare and shifts management of their health care plans to TennCare.
Tennessee seniors now want to know if Republican Senate candidate Steve Dickerson and House candidates Charles Williamson, Ben Claybaker and Robert Duvall will support controversial entitlement reforms such as turning Medicare into a privatized voucher program or the state Republican plan to have TennCare take over Medicare.
“Voters assume Dickerson, Williamson, Claybaker and Duvall will fall in line with party bosses, like Rep. Gotto, who want to end Medicare as we know it and hand the management of their health care plan over to TennCare,” said Brandon Puttbrese of the Tennessee Democratic Party. “If these candidates are supporting the Romney-Ryan ticket, which is pushing for vouchers and empty promises that will swamp Tennessee seniors with increased health care costs, voters have to expect that they won’t stray far from their party’s anti-senior policies.”
Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, has endorsed his running mate’s plan to privatize Medicare through vouchers. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found the Ryan plan would cut benefits and raise health care costs for seniors by $6,400 each year.
“Tennessee seniors won’t support an extreme plan that puts their current health care coverage at risk — whether it’s Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan or Republicans in Tennessee, there are consequences for endorsing plans that endangers Medicare’s guaranteed benefit or turns the program into a privatized voucher scheme,” said Puttbrese. “It’s time for Davidson County’s G.O.P. candidates — Steve Dickerson, Charles Williamson, Ben Claybaker and Robert Duvall — to be clear with voters and explain whether they support these extreme entitlement reforms that pose a threat to seniors by putting their guaranteed coverage at risk.
TENNESSEE REPUBLICAN COMPACT BILL COULD END MEDICARE’S GUARANTEED BENEFIT & FORCE MEDICARE RECIPIENTS INTO TENNCARE
Republican Health Care Compact Bill Would Force 800,000 Tennessee Seniors and 200,000 Disabled Tennesseans into TennCare or a Similar State Program. Under the Republican Health Care Compact Bill (HB0369/SB0326), beginning in FY13-14, the State of Tennessee would take over the federal Medicare program and force enrollees into TennCare or a similar state program. Not only would this be an unprecedented expansion of state government, this bill would increase the state budget by $11,505,596,700.[Capitol.TN.gov, accessed 8/15/12]
Compact’s Block Grant Funding Gap Endangers Medicare’s Guaranteed Benefit at Current Levels and Would Pass Costs onto Seniors. In a release, AARP Utah — another state that has enacted the Health Care Compact law — summarized two of the major problems of the compact, problems that Tennessee would surely face. The AARP stated, “First, the block grant would not keep pace with medical inflation, meaning a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding to the state, as medical inflation is much higher than ‘cost-of-living’ inflation… Third, the gap between the block grant funds and the actual cost of medical care for the hundreds of thousands of people who are served by Medicaid and Medicare would be shouldered by the low-income, disabled, and senior populations who are beneficiaries.” [AARP.org, 5/2012]
Indiana Republicans Excluded Medicare From Their Health Care Compact Law to Avoid Cuts to Seniors’ Benefits. Governor Mitch Daniels, a Republican, has a very complex position on Indiana’s “Health Care Compact.” Recognizing the that funding for the Health Care Compact is not designed to keep pace with medical inflation, as pointed out by AARP Utah, Indiana’s Republican-controlled legislature amended their “Health Care Compact” bill to exclude Medicare from their compact. [NWI Politics, 2/23/12]
PAUL RYAN’S BUDGET ENDS MEDICARE AS WE KNOW IT AND SHIFTS COSTS ON TO SENIORS
The Ryan Plan Would End Medicare As We Know It And Raise Seniors Health Costs By Thousands Of Dollars Per Year. “The budget resolution developed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) would make significant changes to Medicare. It would replace Medicare’s current guarantee of coverage with a premium-support voucher, raise the age of eligibility from 65 to 67, and reopen the ‘doughnut hole’ in Medicare’s coverage of prescription drugs. Together, these changes would shift substantial costs to Medicare beneficiaries and (with the simultaneous repeal of health reform) leave many 65- and 66-year olds without any health coverage at all.” [Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, “Medicare in the Ryan Budget,” 3/28/12]
The Ryan Plan Raises The Eligibility Age For Medicare From 65 To 67, And Puts In Place Caps On Spending That Could Shift Costs To Seniors As Health Care Costs Rise. “Under Ryan’s blueprint, the Medicare eligibility age would rise over time beginning in 2023 from 65 to 67. In the future, seniors would be given government assistance to purchase private health-insurance plans or could continue to take part in the current fee-for-service model. Spending would be capped, meaning risks and costs could shift to seniors as health-care costs rise.” [Washington Post, 3/29/12]
The Affordable Care Act Preserves Medicare for the Future. Health reform found $716 billion in savings that didn’t cut Medicare benefits by a dime. These savings are extending the life of Medicare through 2024 by cutting unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies and rooting out waste, fraud and abuse. [FactCheck.org, 8/24/12]