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Nov 17 2016

GOP Agenda: Ending Medicare ASAP

The Republicans and their wealthy corporate supporters (re: the Koch brother and Pete Peterson, etc.) have long wanted to decimate the social safety net through a number of programs such as; block grants to states for Medicaid with no guarantees the money would be used for that program; health care savings programs as an opt out of Medicare for younger workers; and vouchers for senior citizens in lieu of Medicare. Now that the GOP has a grip on congress and the White House, House Speaker Paul Ryan’s agenda for the first months of the Yappin Yam’s administration is not only repealing the ACA but ending Medicare as well.

Below is a transcript of what Ryan said on Fox’s Special Report, along with a flat out false statement suggesting that Obamacare has weakened Medicare’s finances.

BRET BAIER: Let’s tick down these things. You have a debt ceiling coming up. How is that going to work?

PAUL RYAN: Thankfully, we’re doing it with a republican president and congress. We can tackle our fiscal issues. We can tackle the oppressive taxes that are stifling job creation and business and making America uncompetitive. Having a debt limit, which occurs — March is around the time this occurs. With president-elect trump — with president trump and a congressional republican and congressional senate democrats in the minority and senate republicans in the majority makes a world of difference better. We can use this as an opportunity to get good things done.

BRET BAIER: Your solution has always been to put things together including entitlement reform. That is Paul Ryan’s plan. That’s not Donald Trump’s plan.

PAUL RYAN: Well, you have to remember, when Obamacare became Obamacare, Obamacare rewrote medicare, rewrote medicaid. If you are going to repeal and replace Obamacare, you have to address those issues as well. What a lot of folks don’t realize is this 21-person board called the ipap is about to kick in with price controls on Medicare. What people don’t realize is because of Obamacare, medicare is going broke, medicare is going to have price controls because of Obamacare, medicaid is in fiscal straits. You have to deal with those issues if you are going to repeal and replace obamacare. Medicare has serious problems [because of] Obamacare. Those are part of our plan.

In that article, Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo makes very salient points:

First, Ryan claims that Obamacare has put Medicare under deeper financial stress. Precisely the opposite is true. And it’s so straightforward Ryan unquestionably knows this. The Affordable Care Act actually extended Medicare’s solvency by more than a decade. Ryan’s claim is flat out false.

Second, I’ve heard a few people say that it’s not 100% clear here that Ryan is calling for Medicare Phase Out. It is 100% clear. Ryan has a standard, openly enunciated position in favor of Medicare Phase Out. It’s on his website. It’s explained explicitly right there.

Ryan says current beneficiaries will be allowed to keep their Medicare. Says. But after the cord is cut between current and future beneficiaries, everything is fair game. For those entering the system, Ryan proposes phasing out Medicare and replacing it private insurance with subsidies to help seniors afford the private insurance. That is unquestionably what it means because that is what Ryan says. So if you’re nearing retirement and looking forward to going on Medicare, good luck. You’re going to get private insurance but you’ll get some subsidies from the government to pay the bill.

Through all the gobbledygook and bamboozlement, you’ll find this line on Ryan’s page: “For younger workers, when they become eligible, Medicare will provide a premium-support payment and a list of guaranteed coverage options – including a traditional fee-for-service option – from which recipients can choose a plan that best suits their needs.”

This means, if you haven’t gone on Medicare yet, when you do, you won’t get Medicare. You’ll get a “premium-support payment” – i.e., a check that will allow you to buy insurance from private insurers. The “support” in the phrase means it won’t cover the whole amount. And in any case, rather than Medicare you’ll have insurance from an insurance company, which everybody should love because haven’t you heard from your parents and grandparents how bummed they were when they had to give up their private insurance for Medicare?

You’ll hear lots of people calling this “reform” and other catchwords. But Medicare is a single payer, universal health care system. Replacing it with private insurance means getting rid of it. Even calling it “privatization” masks what is really afoot.

Ryan’s plan is to ram this through in the first months of the new administration while the Democrats and the White House are still in disarray, ala the shock doctrine.

Don’t think for a moment that the pathological liar who will occupy the highest office in the US will stop this. Despite his campaign rhetoric to protect your Social Security and Medicare, he is now vowing to “modernize” it, code words for Ryan’s plan. As proof that this is not a far fetched theory, The Yapping Yam elect is considering this moron to head the Department of Health and Human Services (from Josh Marshall at TPM):

The most recent (2015) version of the Medicare Phase Out plan comes from Rep. Tom Price (R-GA). He’s now being considered to be Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which would oversee phasing out Medicare.

Time is short folks. If the Democrats needed a cause to rally around, this is it. There are fence sitters on the Republican side as well because of the popularity of Medicare. Remember the Tea Party slogan? “Don’t mess with my Medicare.” They weren’t, and we aren’t, kidding. Contact your congress critter, find out where he or she stands and tell them “Don’t Mess With Medicare.”