If Barack Obama wins in November, I just saw how it will happen:
While searching for this article as a man who has written about this subject before, I did a Yahoo search with the following keywords: Paul Ryan Medicare budget doesn’t take benefits from people over 55. I chose those keywords because in point of fact it is absolutely TRUE that Paul Ryan’s budget not only does not take one penny of benefits from those who are already ON Medicare, but from those who are ten years away from retirement.
All the articles on the first page that Yahoo fed me were biased toward the left. That was no accident. If you are looking for the truth, you can still find it in America; but you have to sort through a lot of lies from the mainstream media in order to find it. Mark Twain famously quipped that a lie can get halfway around the world before the truth could put its boots on. The mainstream media has done everything it could to HIDE the truth’s boots. But the lies are like paved superhighways.
Too many Americans believe things that are simply blatantly false because they’re too ignorant, too lazy and too apathetic to take the time to search for the truth that the left is trying to keep the people from seeing.
I’m looking for specific facts that my keywords plainly describe, but the mainstream media and internet search engines like pro-liberal Google and Yahoo say, “No! You can’t see those! You have to look through all of these lies first, and then good luck finding what you’re looking for while we try to prevent you from succeeding.”
Contrary to the false and frankly demonic ad featuring a Paul Ryan-lookalike pushing an elderly woman in a wheelchair off a cliff, Paul Ryan’s plan does not affect people who are 55 or older. They can keep their current plan exactly as it is. In describing his proposal, Ryan puts it in black and white:
Let me be clear, nobody age 55 or older will see any changes to the way Medicare currently operates.
Democrats are not merely being dishonest in the way they are misrepresenting the Ryan plan for Medicare; they are being demonically dishonest.
Do you want to know who is ripping off Medicare for people RIGHT NOW? Barack Obama is ripping off Medicare. The Democrat Party is ripping off Medicare – to the tune of $716 BILLION from a Medicare program that is already massively threatened by bankruptcy:
Last week, a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report updated the amount of money Obamacare robs out of Medicare from $500 billion to a whopping $716 billion between 2013 and 2022.
According to the CBO, the payment cuts in Medicare include:
- A $260 billion payment cut for hospital services.
- A $39 billion payment cut for skilled nursing services.
- A $17 billion payment cut for hospice services.
- A $66 billion payment cut for home health services.
- A $33 billion payment cut for all other services.
- A $156 billion cut in payment rates in Medicare Advantage (MA); $156 billion is before considering interactions with other provisions. The House Ways and Means Committee was able to include interactions with other provisions, estimating the cuts to MA to be even higher, coming in at $308 billion.
- $56 billion in cuts for disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments.* DSH payments go to hospitals that serve a large number of low-income patients.
- $114 billion in other provisions pertaining to Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP* (does not include coverage-related provisions).
*Subtract $25 billion total between DSH payments and other provisions for spending that was cut from Medicaid and CHIP.
In total, Obamacare raids Medicare by $716 billion from 2013 to 2022. Despite Medicare facing a 75-year unfunded obligation of $37 trillion, Obamacare uses the savings from the cuts to pay for other provisions in Obamacare, not to help shore up Medicare’s finances.
Medicare is on the verge of bankruptcy, not in a thousand years or even fifty years; but in FOUR YEARS. It will go broke by 2016 on its current path if you understand that Obama took money out of the program but is disingenuously counting that money twice as if you can Rob Peter to pay Paul but somehow Peter and Paul both have all of Peter’s money.
You need to realize just how much dishonesty is going on in the government bean-counting: our real debt isn’t the $15.9 trillion you hear about; our real debt is $222 trillion. It went up $11 trillion from last year. And it is going to keep going up until America implodes into chaos and anarchy.
We are facing disaster. We’ve got to start making cuts or Medicare along with our entire government system will financially implode.
Democrats are demonizing ANY change in Medicare. And in so doing Democrats are demanding that Medicare go bankrupt and that senior citizens die deaths of medical neglect.
Paul Ryan is saying we’ve GOT to make changes in this program in order to save the Medicare system. Please stop letting the media and the Democrat Party lie to you and read what Paul Ryan is actually saying.
Paul Ryan offers a reform of Medicare that recognizes that Medicare does NOT drive down medical costs; rather, it is driving medical costs UP by contributing to medical price-fixing. Medicare and Medicaid drove up medical costs by massively subsidizing those who don’t pay and pushing that increasingly costlier burden onto those who do.
Ryan’s Medicare reform plan is demonized as a “voucher system.” It is not. But you should understand that Ryan is trying to allow people to take better advantage of a fact that neither the government nor the insurance companies want you to know about: that paying cash provides the best discount of ALL for medical care; and that if people were allowed to be able to make their own choices and negotiate their own prices for care, patients would pay LESS even as the doctors and medical professionals were able to earn MORE:
Here is an article from the Los Angeles Times – hardly a conservative think tank, lefties – that underscores this simple FACT:
Many hospitals, doctors offer cash discount for medical bills
The lowest price is usually available only if patients don’t use their health insurance. In one case, blood tests that cost an insured patient $415 would have been $95 in cash.
May 27, 2012|By Chad Terhune
A Long Beach hospital charged Jo Ann Snyder $6,707 for a CT scan of her abdomen and pelvis after colon surgery. But because she had health insurance with Blue Shield of California, her share was much less: $2,336.
Then Snyder tripped across one of the little-known secrets of healthcare: If she hadn’t used her insurance, her bill would have been even lower, just $1,054.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Snyder, a 57-year-old hair salon manager. “I was really upset that I got charged so much and Blue Shield allowed that. You expect them to work harder for you and negotiate a better deal.”
Unknown to most consumers, many hospitals and physicians offer steep discounts for cash-paying patients regardless of income. But there’s a catch: Typically you can get the lowest price only if you don’t use your health insurance.
That disparity in pricing is coming under fire from people like Snyder, who say it’s unfair for patients who pay hefty insurance premiums and deductibles to be penalized with higher rates for treatment.
The difference in price can be stunning. Los Alamitos Medical Center, for instance, lists a CT scan of the abdomen on a state website for $4,423. Blue Shield says its negotiated rate at the hospital is about $2,400.
When The Times called for a cash price, the hospital said it was $250.
“It frustrates people because there’s no correlation between what things cost and what is charged,” said Paul Keckley, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, a research arm of the accounting firm. “It changes the game when healthcare’s secrets aren’t so secret.”
Snyder’s experience is hardly unique. In addition to Los Alamitos, The Times contacted seven other hospitals across Southern California, and nearly all had similar disparities between what a patient would pay through an insurer and the cash price offered for a common CT, or computed tomography, scan, which provides a more detailed image than an X-ray.
Health insurance still offers substantial value for consumers by providing preventive care at no cost and offering protection from major medical bills that could bankrupt most families.
But cash prices — typically available for hundreds of common outpatient services and tests — have a real appeal to millions of consumers who are on the hook for a growing share of their medical costs as employers and insurers cut back on coverage and push more high-deductible plans.
Some doctors are trying to spread the word about cash prices and they’re urging patients to pressure hospitals and insurers to offer a better deal.
In the view of Robert Berenson, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and vice chairman of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, big hospitals are exerting their market power to charge ever-increasing rates and major insurers go along with it because they can pass along the costs to employers and consumers. Insurance industry officials say that health plans negotiate the lowest prices they can, but that they also need to include prominent hospitals favored by customers in the network, and those institutions can command higher prices.
Hospital executives say they don’t like to charge insured patients more, but say that’s a result of the country’s broken healthcare system.
At Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, where Snyder got her CT scan, the hospital’s chief financial officer said insured patients like her pay more to subsidize the uncompensated care given to the uninsured and low reimbursements for Medicaid patients.
“We end up being forced to charge a premium to health plans to make the books balance,” said John Bishop, the hospital’s finance chief. “It’s a backdoor tax on employers and consumers.”
Those higher prices charged by hospitals and other medical providers drove up healthcare spending at double the rate of inflation during the recession even as patients used less medical care, according to a new study by the Health Care Cost Institute.
Snyder, the salon manager, stumbled across the two-tier system accidentally. She has filed suit against her insurer, saying she hopes her case will lead to more disclosure of the price options, and ultimately lower treatment costs for patients.
The Long Beach woman said she sought treatment in 2009 for a pain in her abdomen. First her doctor ordered a CT scan of her abdomen and pelvis at Liberty Pacific Medical Imaging, an independent facility near Long Beach Memorial.
She got approval from Blue Shield, and she paid the negotiated rate of $660. Snyder underwent surgery on her colon, and her doctor ordered another CT scan in January 2010 because she felt lingering pain.
This time, her surgeon referred her to the hospital’s imaging center. Snyder said she assumed her bill would be about the same because it was the identical test. Instead, Blue Shield’s rate with Long Beach Memorial was $3,497 and the insurer told Snyder she owed $2,336, records show.
Incensed by having to pay nearly four times as much for the second scan, she started searching for an explanation. That’s when she discovered that the hospital’s cash price was less than half what she owed through her insurance.
In a complaint filed last month in Orange County Superior Court, Snyder accused Blue Shield of unfair business practices, breach of good faith and misrepresentation over her medical bills. The suit seeks class-action status on behalf of other Blue Shield customers.
A spokesman for Blue Shield said the case has no merit and the nonprofit insurer negotiates the most favorable rates it can.
In a court filing, Blue Shield said it “cannot promise or represent that there could not be providers who will charge someone less out-of-pocket cost for a service than she would pay if the Blue Shield contract rate applies.”
Snyder said she went back to work last year at a hair salon in Seal Beach, partly to help pay her insurance premiums of $700 a month.
“It kills me that I’m paying that much in premiums,” she said, “and it’s better to pay cash out of my own pocket.”
Health-policy experts say the growing awareness of cash prices should accelerate the trend toward increased disclosure of all types of medical costs. But entrenched interests are likely to resist.
“The insiders in the healthcare industry don’t want to lose control over this information,” Keckley said. “But price transparency is inevitable.”
So even if you want to demonize the Ryan Plan as a “voucher system” as DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz does, please understand that if you had a damn voucher, you could save massively over what the corrupt boondoggle system the Democrats created back in 1965 is charging today.
This is crucial for you to understand: a liberal will read this article and say that it’s the insurance companies’ fault and that Republicans are in the pockets of the insurance companies. That is a LIE. Republicans have been trying to reform the health care system by allowing insurance companies to offer plans across state lines. Here is a Wall Street Journal article arguing for that very thing; here is a Daily Kos article blatantly acknowledging that Republicans want to allow competition across state lines. Democrats have stopped them at every single turn in order to force insurance companies to be forced to pay for sex change operations and the like. What you get is states that have only ONE insurance carrier. California, with over thirty million people, has only six insurance carriers who can do business in the state. And what you get is huge regulation and huge boondoggles. Just imagine if 200 health insurance companies could compete for your business. Given the above-documented FACT that doctors and hospitals are happily willing to charge far less for cash, how is it not an obvious common-sense FACT that we could radically drive down the costs of health care if we could ONLY have competition that Democrats have prevented???
You’ve got to understand that the free market system is the only thing that can save the American health care system. But Medicare has increasingly taken over that system since 1965 and ObamaCare will complete that takeover until the system collapses. And you’ve got to realize that Democrats viscerally DESPISE that free market competition and want to either dominate health care by nationalizing it or by regulating it to death.
Paul Ryan recognizes that the government has NOT made health care better or cheaper; it’s made it worse and more expensive.
Here is an article that further explains Paul Ryan’s bold plan in answer to Obama’s socialized medicine boondoggle:
3/20/2012 @ 11:18AM |11,099 views
Paul Ryan’s New-and-Improved Plan for Medicare and Medicaid Reform
Last year, Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), Chairman of the House Budget Committee, unveiled the Path to Prosperity, an impressive fiscal plan that, for the first time in memory, put one chamber of Congress squarely on the record as favoring significant entitlement reform. Today, Ryan has put forth the sequel. Let’s compare the health-care provisions of Version 2 to those of Version 1.
The headline is that the new plan scraps Ryan’s old Medicare proposal, which involved full privatization of Medicare in the form of “premium support,” for a partial privatization which incorporates the option for seniors to stay on traditional Medicare, using a framework known as competitive bidding. The new Medicare proposal is lifted from Paul Ryan’s collaboration with Democratic senator Ron Wyden (Ore.), which I called a “game changer” when it was released in December.
Other health care-related provisions are basically the same: repeal Obamacare, and block-grant Medicaid. Ryan’s proposal seeks to move toward “patient-centered reform,” which he describes as including malpractice reform, purchasing insurance across state lines, and expanding consumer-driven insurance plans. Notably, he advocates allowing employees to opt out of employer-sponsored care, and giving workers the option to take their employer’s insurance contribution and devote it to buying plans for themselves:
There is a consensus of willing leaders from both parties coalescing around the right way forward in health care. Reform should address government-imposed inequities and barriers to true choice and competition. Common-sense solutions include enacting medical liability reform, ensuring Americans can purchase quality coverage across state lines, and expanding access to consumer-directed health care options. Addressing distortions in the tax code could begin by giving employers the opportunity to offer their employees a free choice option, so that workers could be free to devote their employer’s health coverage contribution to the purchase a health insurance plan that works best for them.
Medicaid: The devil’s in the block-grant details
Ryan’s proposal for Medicaid reform involves “converting the federal share of Medicaid spending into a block grant indexed for inflation and population growth.” This contrasts meaningfully with a plan put forth by four House members on the conservative Republican Study Committee: Reps. Todd Rokita (Ind.), Tim Huelskamp (Kans.), Paul Broun (Ga.), and Jim Jordan (Ohio). The RSC proposal aims to keep Medicaid spending flat, with no inflation adjustment, after block-granting it to the states.
Insofar as block-granting Medicaid has become a consensus idea within the GOP, the devil will devolve into the details: What should be the growth rate for the federal block grants? Should profligate states like New York continue to get big grants at the expense of stingy states like Texas, or should the block grant be administered on a per-beneficiary basis?
Medicare: Adapting Wyden-Ryan for the House budget
In coordination with today’s news, Ryan’s team put together a well-produced video on Medicare’s structural problems, and what premium support and competitive bidding seek to do about it:
The new GOP budget would create a “Medicare Exchange”—much like Obamacare’s insurance exchanges but with a public option—for future retirees who are under the age of 55 today. Critically, the level of premium support would be determined by the second-least expensive plan in a region, or traditional fee-for-service Medicare, whichever was lower. Seniors would keep the savings if they chose a cheaper plan:
The second-least expensive approved plan or fee-for-service Medicare, whichever is least expensive, would establish the benchmark that determines the premium-support amount for the plan chosen by the senior. If a senior chose a costlier plan than the benchmark plan, he or she would be responsible for paying the difference between the premium subsidy and the monthly premium. Conversely, if that senior chose a plan that cost less than the benchmark, he or she would be given a rebate for the difference. Payments to plans would be risk-adjusted and geographically rated. Private health plans would be required to cover at least the actuarial equivalent of the benefit package provided by fee-for-service Medicare.
This is meaningfully different from PTP 1, in which seniors didn’t gain any savings from choosing a plan cheaper than the premium support level, and where traditional Medicare was not an option.
Another key detail: Ryan’s plausible assumption is that competitive bidding could drive Medicare spending down without hard spending caps. However, as a backstop, the proposal caps the growth of Medicare spending at GDP plus 0.5 percent, which—not coincidentally—matches the targeted Medicare growth rate in President Obama’s budget.
The PTP 2 growth rate cap of GDP + 0.5% is meaningfully higher than that of PTP 1, which grew Medicare at the rate of inflation, something that was a principal source of criticism from the left (Alice Rivlin called it “much, much too low” ).
A key question is: what will the CBO do? Will the CBO score this new plan with the GDP plus 0.5 percent Medicare growth cap? Or will CBO give Ryan any credit for the benefits of competitive bidding?
Robert Coulam, Roger Feldman, and Bryan Dowd estimate that competitive bidding could shave 8 percent off of Medicare spending: a modest amount, given the program’s rapid growth rate. In the late 1990s, the City of Denver implemented a Medicare competitive bidding demonstration project, and found that bids came in at 25 to 38 percent below those of traditional Medicare. Unfortunately, that demonstration project, like nearly all others of its type, was shuttered due to fierce opposition from interest groups opposed to competitive pricing: hospitals, doctors, and other providers of medical supplies and services.
Overall health care savings: $2.5 trillion vs. Obama budget
In the 2013-2022 time frame, Ryan claims that this new version of the Path to Prosperity will reduce spending by $2.5 trillion, relative to President Obama’s budget: $205 billion from Medicare, $1.6 trillion from Obamacare, and $770 billion from Medicaid and other health-care programs. (Of course, the proposal would also repeal Obamacare’s tax hikes, making the actual deficit-reducing number smaller.)
One key question will be how PTP 2 interacts with the Budget Control Act, the debt-ceiling agreement from last summer. Democrats, and even some Republicans, are arguing that PTP 2 violates that agreement, and is therefore a non-starter in the Senate. I’ll update this post with further info on that subject as it becomes available.
Paul Ryan will be speaking at the American Enterprise Institute at 11:30 a.m. ET to present his plan.
Democrats already on the attack
Congressional Democrats and their allies are already on the attack against the new budget, reiterating the ridiculous claim that Ryan seeks to “end Medicare.” If this assertion was Politifact’s “Lie of the Year” last year, it’s even more dishonest this year, when Ryan’s plan preserves the option to stay in traditional, fee-for-service Medicare. But have a look at this new video from “ Americans United for Change”:
Sounds to me like they’re united against change, but what do I know? It will be up to voters to decide whether or not they want fiscally responsible government.
UPDATE 1: At the AEI press conference, Ryan explained that the tables included in PTP 2 are based on CBO scoring, though he was not asked whether the CBO score includes any credit for competitive bidding. In addition, he explained that the rationale for using GDP plus 0.5 percent for the Medicare premium support growth rate was driven in part by recently slowing growth in Medicare spending.
UPDATE 2: Igor Volsky of ThinkProgress argues, erroneously, that PTP 2 would allow private insurers to “cherry-pick the healthiest beneficiaries from traditional Medicare and leave sicker applicants to the government.” Indeed, the plan risk-adjusts the premium support levels so as to prevent that practice: a well-established methodology. Igor also worries that the plan wouldn’t reduce costs, but rather increase them, because he ignores the cost-reducing effects of competitive bidding. Gene Sperling, President Obama’s National Economic Director, repeats the adverse selection critique in Politico. This is clearly going to be the go-to line of attack for progressive wonks.
UPDATE 3: The CBO has released its evaluation of PTP 2. It turns out that the CBO merely projected future spending using Ryan’s specifications (in the case of Medicare, GDP + 0.5%). Here is a chart that describes how the Ryan plan would reduce Medicare spending relative to current law (the middle bar is the more realistic “alternative fiscal scenario”).
For example, in 2023, spending for a 65-year-old, in 2011 dollars, would be $6,300 under the baseline scenario (no doc fixes), $6,600 under the alternative scenario (includes doc fixes), and $5,900 under the Ryan plan.
In the report, CBO expresses its traditional view that reduced spending on Medicare could have mostly negative consequences, including:
Reduced access to health care; diminished quality of care; increased efficiency of health care delivery; less investment in new, high-cost technologies; or some combination of those outcomes. In addition, beneficiaries might face higher costs, which could in turn reinforce some of the other effects.
Note how “increased efficiency” is sandwiched in there between multiple dire alternatives. Democrats will be sure to seize on this.
UPDATE 4: Paul Ryan’s office confirmed to me that the CBO did not score the competitive bidding provision, and offered these comments:
On competitive bidding and premium support, it is critical to note CBO’s self-admitted “gap in the toolkit” when it comes to analyzing these reforms:
• According to CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf, the CBO “doesn’t have the tools” to measure the merits of choice and competition: http://budget.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=248520
• According to CMS Actuary Richard Foster, premium support and competitive bidding have a proven track record of lowering costs and increasing quality: http://budget.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=282298
Here’s a video of Foster’s testimony that Ryan is referring to:
UPDATE 5: The conservative Club for Growth has come out against the Ryan plan, because it doesn’t balance the budget quickly enough, and (incorrectly) because it turns off the automatic spending cuts in the Budget Control Act, says President Chris Chocola. The Hill reports that Rep. Tim Huelskamp (co-sponsor of the block-granting initiative I mention above) will vote against the Ryan plan. This shows atrociously bad judgment on their part. The debt-ceiling agreement is a triviality relative to the critical importance of reforming entitlements.
UPDATE 6: The House Budget Committee passed the Ryan plan by one vote—19 to 18—due to two Republican defections: Huelskamp, as mentioned above, and Justin Amash (R., Mich.)