What You Say To Those Who Want To Abolish Medicare
by Gene Griessman, Ph.D.
Republican Representative Paul Ryan is known for his budget plan which would radically change Medicare into a voucher program. This popular federal program in its current form provides fees for services rendered. Under the Ryan plan, seniors would receive funds from the Federal government to purchase health coverage from private insurers.
Supporters of the plan say the Ryan proposal would give Americans greater choice. Critics say that with health care costs rising steadily, within a few years the vouchers will amount to little more than discount coupons that would not begin to cover the costs of purchasing coverage—that Medicare would become a kind of federally funded Groupon program for America’s seniors.
Earlier this year, when the Ryan plan came to a vote in the House, 235 Republicans voted for the plan and 4 Republicans voted against. (The four Nays thought the plan did not go far enough.) When the Ryan plan was voted on in the Senate, all but five Republicans voted for it. Democrats in both houses oppose the plan.
What do you say to those who argue that the nation simply can’t afford Medicare any longer, that the nation is broke?
Providing health care for the elderly should not be thought of as a break-even business any more than providing schooling for children is a break-even business. Caring for the elderly and the young is a cost to society. Always has been. Always will be. We find the money to fight wars. We can find the money to take care of America’s elderly. You can judge a society by how well it cares for its young and its elderly.
What do you say to those who blame Medicare for steadily increasing costs?
Don’t confuse a symptom with a cause. Medicare is not the cause. The cause is escalating health care costs. Medicare is running out of money because health care costs are rising faster than the rate of inflation.. Medicare passes along those rising costs to the consumer, but Medicare is not the cause.