• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Morning Bell: Facing the Medicare Debate Head-On

    Quick quiz: Who said this about Medicare? “With an aging population and rising health care costs, we are spending too fast to sustain the program. And if we don’t gradually reform the system while protecting current beneficiaries, it won’t be there when future retirees need it. We have to reform Medicare to strengthen it.”

    It wasn’t Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), Mitt Romney’s new running mate, who has been vocal about the need for Medicare reform. It was President Barack Obama, just last year.

    As the debate reignites over the government’s health care plan for seniors, which has a long-term unfunded liability of nearly $37 trillion, two things are important to remember:

    1. Obamacare has already “ended Medicare as we know it.”

    2. There is bipartisan consensus for moving Medicare toward a premium support model, meaning that the government would make a fixed contribution toward each enrollee’s plan, but the enrollee would have the freedom to choose which health care plan he or she wants.

    Medicare has been unsustainable for some time. The continued “plan” to deal with the entitlement’s runaway growth has been to cut payments to health care providers—but because that would harm patients by reducing the number of doctors available, Congress keeps putting it off. As Heritage expert Bob Moffit explains:

    Physicians, under current law, also face Medicare payment cuts that are so draconian—31 percent in 2013—that Congress once again will likely stop them from going into effect. Yet the prospects remain profoundly unfavorable for physicians. More seniors plus fewer providers does not—and cannot—equal “guaranteed” benefits.

    The President and other supporters have claimed that Obamacare would help protect seniors. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office just updated its estimate of the amount Obamacare steals from Medicare to fund itself—a whopping $716 billion between 2013 and 2022.

    As Heritage’s Alyene Senger wrote, “With a raid on Medicare of this magnitude, President Obama’s assertion that his new law is protecting seniors and Medicare is astonishing. The truth is that Obamacare does the opposite.”

    If anyone starts talking about “ending Medicare as we know it,” you can easily tell him that Obamacare already did that. In addition to robbing Medicare of its funding, Obamacare contains more than 160 provisions affecting Medicare.

    The good news is that there are several strong plans for Medicare reform that could salvage the program for the next generation of retirees.

    The Heritage Foundation has developed a Medicare premium support plan as part of its comprehensive budget reform, Saving the American Dream. With premium support, the government makes a fixed payment to a health plan chosen by an enrollee. If an enrollee wants to purchase a plan that is more expensive than the government payment, the enrollee may do so, paying the additional cost. If an enrollee wants to buy a less expensive plan, the enrollee may also do so, and keep the savings.

    Under this model, health plans would compete directly with each other. Their ability to retain or expand their enrollment would depend solely on their ability to provide the best package of benefits and the highest quality of care at the most competitive price. The American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, the National Center for Policy Analysis, and the Progressive Policy Institute have all endorsed this general approach to comprehensive Medicare reform.

    Some Members of Congress also have been forging a powerful consensus on reforming Medicare. Senators Richard Burr (R–NC) and Tom Coburn (R–OK), and Representative Paul Ryan and Senator Ron Wyden (D–OR) have put forth plans that would improve on the experience of defined-contribution (“premium support”) financing that today characterizes the competitive private plan program in Medicare Part C and the Medicare drug program in Medicare Part D.

    Without reform, Medicare is headed toward a crash landing, leaving America’s seniors in the lurch. Heritage’s Moffit asserts:

    Medicare premium support, long a bipartisan proposal, is the best alternative to this unhappy scenario. It would improve the environment for medical practice, guarantee retirees better choices and broader access to quality care, encourage faster innovation in care delivery, and discourage waste and fraud in medical transactions. It would also deliver superior cost control. For the next generation of taxpayers and retirees alike, there is no better future.

    LEARN MORE:

    Fact Sheet: Obamacare Ends Medicare As We Know It

    To learn more about premium support financing for Medicare, see Premium Support: Medicare’s Future and Its Critics.

    For a side-by-side comparison of The Heritage Foundation’s plan with the Ryan-Wyden plan, Burr-Coburn, and others, see Saving the American Dream: Comparing Medicare Reform Plans.

    To see Medicare’s risks illustrated in visuals, see our slideshow, Medicare at Risk.

    Quick Hits:

    • “House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) says he intends to file a lawsuit in federal court Monday against Attorney General Eric Holder for failing to turn over documents related to the Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation,” reports The Hill.
    • The Muslim Brotherhood is consolidating its power over the military in Egypt.
    • The USA won the most medals—including the most gold medals—in the London Olympics, which concluded yesterday.
    • Curious about Paul Ryan’s views on foreign policy? The Daily Caller delves in.
    • The Agriculture Department spent $2 million on a single intern, among other wasteful spending, reports Heritage’s Lachlan Markay.
    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    35 Responses to Morning Bell: Facing the Medicare Debate Head-On

    1. Romney and Ryan need to come out swinging in exposing Obama's double speak and out right lies. They too must be honest. Expose President Obama's record and hold him accountable for his promises and his failure to provide viable solutions. They should do infomercials and provide graphs showing dollars and cents of Obama's costly programs. They should find out where all the stimulus money went and show the American public.

    2. Veritas says:

      Gut Medicare and beef-up Medicaid.

      Which voters are going to be here longer? The Chicago Way.

    3. Mary......WI says:

      I certainly have no problem with the "voucher" program to save the Medicare entitlement. But I do wonder why seniors are so opposed. First off, it won't affect anyone age 55 on up. Second, how many people know exactly how much they contributed to Meidcare during their working years? There is no way the Medicare benefit recipeints are receiving match what they contributed….in fact, the amount of Medicare benefits recepients receive EXCEEDS what they ever contributed. Third, Medicare does NOT pay for everything! That's why retirees need a supplemental insurance plan AND in may cases if Meidcare doessn't pay for treatment neither will the supplemental. Fourth, why should a physician or durable goods company or any type of healthcare provider take such a huge cut in reimbursement….deosn't seem very fair…..can you blame a healthcare provider not accepting Medicare patient's…they have overheads to pay too!

      Americans need to listen to Paul Ryan, I mean really listen to what the man has to say with an open mind thnking about what what's in store in the future if something is NOT done to save the Medicare program. The other option is Obamacare and it's death panels.

    4. Dr. Pete Kleff says:

      Clearly the Medicare mess is of great concern to older Americans. Unless one is wealthy, there is no current viable alternative.to Medicare. Even if one can find a substitute health insurance plan, which is nigh to impossible, the cost is prohibitive for most retirees. For we older conservatives, it is all but an impossible dilemma. The federal government created this mess, effectively eliminated the private insurance industry for older citizens, made physicians wards of the state, and now tells us it is considering reducing funding, thereby reducing available medical care. I will, of course, stay with the GOP, but I am very concerned about Medicare. But the party needs to revise Medicare and not abandon its base. I'm not quite ready to transition into the next life.

    5. Bassboat says:

      If you think the cuts are draconian take a look at the monthly payments that ramp up in 2014, that will choke most seniors to the point of having to stay at home in order to buy the medicare and medicine. We have to get this message out before November.

    6. Jeanne Stotler says:

      One thing that would surely help, would be putting people back to work. I have seen nothing in Obamacare that would make a good Patient/doctor relatonship, ood healthcare is the result of patients trusting doctors and Doctrs truly free to treat ptints as THEY see fit, not told by a third, non-medical, person how, when and how much care can be given. We seniors have paid our dues, most of us grew up in a presson and war era, we went to work after the war married and raised our families without asking the Gov't. for a thing. All the while we had oney taken from our pay, tried to save along the way, battled inflation, now see our savings deflated, an he Gov't. saying they will decide if we are going to live or die, next tep will be gov't. people decidng which have outlived usefulnss and dispatching the death squad to give you that last shot. STOP OBAMACARE, preserve MEDICARE, VOTE ROMNEY/RYAN.

    7. John C. Davidson says:

      As with everything else the Feds do, the original purpose of their programs evolve into something entirely different. SS along with Medicaire, have become welfare programs squeesing out the seniors as both were intended to serve. No fiscal responsibility evident at all.

    8. F. Neal Sever says:

      Under the Heritage plan, if a senior pockets all or part of the premium support payment, then gets sick beyond his coverage, who picks up the tab? F. Neal Sever VABCH VA

    9. glynnda says:

      The Medicare debate so far is being run by the Democrats-I'm very glad Paul Ryan is on board with Romney, at least he can carry himself in a debate! They have their stupid little buzz slogan that all of them use and the republicans are once again (and not surprisingly) very ineffective at dealing with this nonsense. We know we are on the right side of this issue but our leaders are not getting the correct message out i.e. what the Dems have done to Medicare already (thank you O-Bummer Care) and what the effects will be come 2014……i.e. the Medicare premium explodes……why isn't this being plastered across the airwaves to counter the buzz-crap the dems are spewing all over the place?

      I have to wonder, did Mr Priebus or any of the other Republican leaders take Debate 101 in High School? I'll tell you this when I get involved in a local political debate it usually takes me less than 2 minutes to take down my opponent because I have the facts…..they have political buzz-slogans they have pulled from their talking heads……okay, so if I can do it…..what about those politicians up there making 150,000 or better a year? LET'S GO PEOPLE!!!!!!

    10. Valere says:

      Medicare Part D is the problem. It was set up to make Medicare go broke by not allowing the Government to negotiate for lower prices w/ the Pharmaceutical industry as the VA does.

    11. Lloyd Scallan says:

      Amy, did you forget Obama has already taken $500 billion from Midicare to help support ObamaCare? Do you really think Obama want to save or reform Medicare?

    12. toledofan says:

      Obamacare is a bad bill and it’s bad medicine for America. Regardless, it’s going to be a tough road to get it changed, voided or to be disected and our only hope is to replace as many Democrats in the Senate as possible so new legistlation can be forged. Until then we’re stuck with something that nobodies going to want or be happy with.

    13. We have many brilliant people in government and in the private sector but few are grasping the big picture. (He who writes the checks is in control) No matter how you slice up the pie he who pays for the pie determines how it is to be distributed and the cost of each slice. I have a health care plan that I have been researching and developing for the last seven years. I have over forty years of experience planning and desgning medical facilities all over the world. I have submitted my plan to several people and organizations including the Heritage Foundation and have gotten little response. The plan I developed shifts the responsibility of health care coverage into the hands of the people and the cost of health care into the hands of the providers. This "shift" has to occur over several years so people in the old system don't lose their coverages. The plan also has safeguards that allows everyone to have health care coverage no matter their medical condition. My ideas puts good health care at the top of the health care list instead of fourth of fifth under regulations, profit, greed and control?

    14. Douglas says:

      " If an enrollee wants to purchase a plan that is more expensive than the government payment, the enrollee may do so, paying the additional cost. If an enrollee wants to buy a less expensive plan, the enrollee may also do so, and keep the savings. "

      It sounds like a solid plan as far as this short summary goes to state the case.

      However, for seniors already living on barely adequate fixed incomes, it seems like the incentive to keep the leftover cash would have a detrimental effect on the policy objectives.If an enrollee chooses a cheaper health plan, the unpaid medical costs will continue to be the burden of society in some form.

    15. Zach Vega says:

      Medicare is unconstitutional. It should be abolished and replaced with nothing.

    16. Casey Carlton says:

      Since I was forced into Medicare 15 years ago, I have seen it move downhill, with no upswings. It is a pretty poor excuse for health care, and no wonder. I suspect that former postal system administrators have had a hand in it somewhere.

      Certainly, it is long past time to improve the funding aspect of Medicare. My first choice would be to end the federal government's involvement completely. Failing that, let's hide the can the politicians have been kicking down the road for so long, and make them do something to improve, not worsen, the funding.

    17. Who's been hiding this from us?

    18. Michael Cook says:

      "Quick quiz: Who said this about Medicare? “With an aging population and rising health care costs, we are spending too fast to sustain the program. And if we don’t gradually reform the system while protecting current beneficiaries, it won’t be there when future retirees need it. We have to reform Medicare to strengthen it.”
      It wasn’t Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), Mitt Romney’s new running mate, who has been vocal about the need for Medicare reform. It was President Barack Obama, just last year."

    19. Ken Marx says:

      I heard David Axelrod stating that by taking away $700 billion from Medicare, that it is being saved for eight more years. Huh? How does taking funds from a bankrupt program "save" it? Does he really expect people to buy such pap?

      The premium support plan sounds like a good idea since just canceling the program would be devastating to seniors who have become dependent on it. We seem to be stuck with it for now, but maybe a better (non-government) plan can be implemented for future retirees by wiser people than have been in government for the past 70 years and more.

    20. Bobbie says:

      This administration has been taking advantage of the elderly since they've been in charge. Adding more choices just to confuse the situation. The elderly wealthy are paying their brunt costs hidden under the assumed government entitlement they paid for already. Somebody's getting a free lunch at everyone elses expense with a heavy suspicion, it isn't anyone entitled.

    21. GRACE E. PRATTI says:

      I COULD SEE MEDICARE CUT IN PEOPLE THAT NEVER CONTRIBUTE AND FRAUD THE SYSTEM. BUT
      WHAT RYAN WANTS TO DO IS OUT OF CONTROL WITH VOUCHERS. THE PEOPLE THAT WORKED ALL THERE LIFE AND CONTRIBUTED TO MEDICARE, HAVE A RIGHT TO HAVE IT, THEY EARNED IT, HOW WOULD HE LIKE IT IF HE WAS 65 OR OLDER AND HE WAS CUT OFF MEDICARE, AND ROMNEY 'S CHOICE WHAT IS THINKING. IS WASHINGTON GOING CRAZY.

      • Jeanne Stotler says:

        LISTEN : There will be NO CHANGE in medicare for ANYONe over 55 YO, this applies to those under 55 and maybe under 52, it's sure better than NO CARE in 10 years, FOR ALL who are in doubt, MEDICARE AND SOCIAL SECURITY are going BROKE, the Goverment has been using the money deducted from your checks for the general fund since LBJ, And if OBAMA gets his way yu will be denied care if you are not productive, there WILL BE DEATH PANELS, most over 80 ill be given passive end of life care, don't know what that means, well it means you get very little food or medicine until you die, similiar to ed of life by HOSPICE

      • Bobbie says:

        Jeanne is absolutely right, Grace. Help yourself settle down. Democrat opposition manipulated the thinking process of many to hide their governing faults of consequences they have no problem laying on the people and the honorable people in government. Your comment reflects opinions that misconstrue the facts without giving yourself or Mr. Ryan a chance to listen to the truth from Mr. Ryan himself and from those that truly know him.

        I mean really Grace, how do you feel the quality of your health care will be since Obama is making cuts in medicare not to you but in all areas around you! medicare, already paid and appropriated stolen from to finance obamacare. That is deception. Thievery.and people who are tax exempt get all taxed paid services absolutely free! Violating all American principles. Abuse of power.

        Those taking the cut are going to compromise somewhere. Totally unfair and immoral of this administration that restraints in government would solve all problems. When you listen to both sides you come to know who the truthful are and who's working for America…

    22. Bobby Gladd says:

      "Medicare premium support, long a bipartisan proposal, is the best alternative"

      What crap. "Preimum support" is code for "asset transfer to AHIP."

    23. Dr. Henry Sinopoli says:

      Nothing to worry about, Heritage will support the life-long politicians and all will be right with the world. Stop being a sounding board for the lifers…Perhaps you should move out of Washington, avoid some of the member sponsored big dinners each night and see how the populace really views you insiders…

      Don't worry I know the Heritage censors will get this…

    24. Jose Lira says:

      Barack Hussein Obama is the "domestic enemy" our founders talked and warned us about. His "presidential record" .. speaks for itself. Here we have a US president who, by nature of his actions, those that contradict most of what he's said since he swore to uphold our US Constitution … and our laws. All of what he's disrespected .. dishonored.

    25. Glenn Watson says:

      Obama and team will rip Ryan to shreds for trying to save Medicare for our children and grandchildren. When you hear it, read the other side he doesn't want you to know.

    26. No Socialism says:

      This article doesn't even take into account the mass exodus of physicians from the profession because the Medicare allowed amounts are so small. Doctors spend 12 years schooling at tuitions that are high. Then there are the lean years getting established. By then a doctor is over 30 years olds, while his/her peers in other professions spend 4 to 6 years schooling, high tuitions, and spend some time establishing themselves. Many of these progress into management ranks by 30, making substantial sums of salary, stock options, bonuses, etc. I would not blame any doctor who threw in the tower with this situation. They can make good money with far less hassle at McDonalds as a manager. By the way, I'm not a doctor … I'm a retired executive who spend 4 years + in school.

    27. TJ Goforth says:

      Health Insurance is NOT health care. I rarely hear that fact expressed by anyone – period. Seems to me it . should be pointed out at every opportunity. Of what use is someone's insurance if there is no treatment available or no room in any hospital? The assumption that doctors, medications and hospitals will always be available all the time is not reality. R&R should be relentless in stating what truly exists, not merely what we want to exist.

    28. Jerome Bigge says:

      There is a proposal before the Food & Drug Administration that would change the prescription status of many medical drugs to a "behind the counter, adult signature required" status that would allow those more knowledgeable to take greater care of their health without having to pay a doctor for his or her "permission" to purchase medical drugs for one's own use. For example, the cost of controlling your high blood pressure and high cholesterol using the most commonly used generic medications purchased at Walmart will run from $80 a year to about twice that. In effect, a monthly cost of $6.67 to $13.33 would serve to control both these conditions at a cost that would be affordable for anyone. As high blood pressure and high cholesterol are the two most common causes of heart attack and stroke, making these medical drugs available to the general public would reduce the incidence of these two often fatal conditions. It is the belief of Libertarians that the solution to our increasingly unaffordable health care costs is best done by removing government regulation, not by additional government regulation that will only serve to increase health care costs for everyone.

      • Jeanne Stotler says:

        CAUTION, Many of these meds come from India and other 3rd world countries and the amount of active ingredients is dubious. I recently took one of these"cheapmeds" from WalMart, a scrip call for bactrim< a broad spectrum anti biotic , which I have taken before. Usually in 3 daysI feel much better, this time fter 10 days I was worse, plus had side effects I never had before, then had to be on another anti biotic and result now is for a longer recovery over what should have been 10 days will now be weeks. BUYER BEWARE

    29. Joseph McKennan says:

      The fact that all of this is happening is not surprising. What is fishy to me is that Obama made the statement 1 year ago that the way we are spending makes medicare unsustainable. That is a half truth in Obama's presidency of transparency because it is, was , will be deliberate- to enhasnce the takeover of freedom's we are losing everyday.
      Another engmatic effect is that Obama still has supporters. It makes me think that a no name evil has infected us. I will not hesitate to say "give me liberty or give me death".

    30. Jeanne Stotler says:

      Common reasoning is, we turn the job situation around and they pay into medicare, this allows for claims, then with increasing amount of earnings that medicare is deducted from, plus raising eligibility age, this will all help, as with robbing medicare earnings to fund this giant medicaid Obama has suggested would leave senoirs wthout doctors ( majority don't want to work under it) inferior care and subject to restrictions on the kind and amount of care in association with age and ability to function, YES DEATH PANELS,

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×