Republicans seeking to change Medicare wrong, program on sound footing – The Hill

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From Judith Stein, Executive Director, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc.

In “trump medicare promise causes heartburn for GOP,” Scott Wong aptly described the tone deafness of congressional Republicans who threaten Medicare, the prized program that provides access to healthcare for 55 million older and disabled Americans.

Their position even conflicts with President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump taps NY Jets owner to be UK Ambassador Spicer: first white house briefings to take place in West Wing Trump embracing the independent workforce will deliver growth, innovation, and bolster national security MORE – who has, so far, maintained his pledge not to gut Medicare.

Unfortunately, many incoming Republican policymakers appear committed to converting Medicare from a defined benefit program to a defined contribution for each individual. Often referred to as a voucher, or “premium support,” this proposal would simply contribute to the cost of private insurance premiums. It would end Medicare as we know it.

Medicare was enacted in 1965 because private industry failed to insure more than 50 percent of older people. It would be sadly ironic if lawmakers returned Medicare and the health of older and disabled people to the vagaries of the private, for-profit insurance industry.

In his article, however, Mr. Wong failed to accurately represent the state of the medicare trust fund. The truth is, Medicare is not in crisis. It is on solid financial footing. In fact, the affordable care act added 11 years to the solvency of the program, brought down costs, and continues to strengthen Medicare’s economic future. Thus, those who support repeal of the Affordable Care Act jeopardize Medicare’s economic future.

Further, the date of projected insolvency is not set in stone; it can, and has, changed. Indeed many times since 1970, the Medicare trustees have projected trust fund insolvency – in as few as four years or as many as 28 years; yet those projections have not proved true. In addition, even if the Trust Fund were to become insolvent, by spending more than it takes in, Medicare would still be able to pay out 87 percent of benefits. While certainly not ideal, this is a far cry from bankruptcy.

Medicare is a successful program that is extremely popular with families and those who rely on it for access to health care. The path toward a sound future for Medicare is not to increase the eligibility age or decrease benefits, but to stop privatizing it at the expense of older people, people with disabilities, and taxpayers.

— Mansfield Center, Conn.

 

From Tom Tyschper

As of this writing, 60 Democratic members of Congress will not be attending President-elect Trump’s inauguration.  I hope they reflect a bit on the fact that they live in a country where anyone can look like a disrespectful fool.  For years, Congress has maintained extremely low approval ratings.  These 60 are a classic example of why America feels this way.  Most Americans (including Congress and our president) openly agree that “Washington is broken.” 

Last November, the American voter said “enough,” and voted for a real change.  Even though vice president biden stated, “It’s over,” these 60 still don’t get it!  I don’t know what the percentage of “fools” we have in our country, but I suspect our Congress has far more that the normal “bell shaped” curve would predict.

— Gilbert, Ariz. 

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Tags: president-elect donald trumpdonald trumptrump taps ny jets owner, trump medicare promise causes heartburn, first white house briefings, affordable care act, uk ambassador spicer, trust fund insolvency, west wing trump, vice president biden, medicare trust fund

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