It's worse than we thought. The trustees for Social Security and Medicare have filed their annual report, and the news
is that the two entitlements will expire earlier than reported last year. Medicare, in particular, is expected to run out of funds in 2024- five years earlier than was anticipated in prior years. Of course the Obama administration, with its spin-to-win "new math," is reporting
- now try to follow this one
- that even though Medicare is running out of funds five years earlier than expected, this is actually eight years longer than it would have without the passage of Obamacare, and that the reason for this is cuts to Medicare Advantage
made in the health reform law- the same cuts that President Obama and the Democrats have been denying were in there. Got that?
Congressional Republican leaders have been encouraging an "adult conversation" about government entitlement programs, and Medicare, in particular. And, while some of them have backed away
from this conversation for political reasons, i.e., let's wait until after the 2012 election
, Congressman Paul Ryan has demonstrated that he possesses the political courage to get the ball rolling. The crux of the "adult conversation" is the following: that the now anticipated demise of Medicare, as we have known it since its initiation in 1965, is primarily the result of several factors which pertain to both principles of government, as well as finances:
a) Enough previous generations of American taxpayers allowed Congress to save their money for them in government accounts;
b) Program funds, i.e., revenues obtained, as taxes, through automatic deduction from payrolls, have been used, over the years, by Congress without the express permission of American citizens, to pay for other projects;
c) Liberal politicians have been successful at convincing unthinking Americans that the government can make their lives easier and better through continued government programs, like Social Security, Medicare, and Obamacare.
d) Medicare is going broke; health care costs are increasing; and some physicians are choosing to not be Medicare providers, due to cuts in reimbursements, leading to limited access to care.
Many liberal Democrats and, yes, some conservative Americans, have demonized Mr. Ryan for "taking away their
Medicare." Of course, the Democrats hope to gain from convincing senior citizens that Republicans want them to "die," even though President Obama's solution to lower Medicare costs is to bring on board the panel
of government bureaucrats who will ration care.
So, if there is no change in Medicare, and you are already receiving its benefits, or approaching the age of eligibility, and expect to use Medicare as your health insurance plan, it is not anticipated that you will have coverage any longer in about 12 years from today. If President Obama remains in office and his rationing panel is enacted, you will likely not receive enhanced medical treatments if you are over the age at which the "panel" deems they are "too costly."
A recent Rasmussen poll
found that 48% of voters see a need to make major cuts in defense spending, Social Security, and Medicare. Yet, some seniors, even some Tea Party seniors, who claim to want smaller government, assert that Medicare is not an "entitlement" program like Medicaid, that they "paid into it" during their working years, and that, on that basis, they deserve government health care. Nevertheless, according to Eugene Steuerle
, former Treasury Department official, "An average couple retiring today has paid just a little over $100,000 in Medicare taxes," throughout their working lives. However, this average couple is receiving "about $300,000 in benefits," even after the adjustment is made for inflation.
we might ask ourselves are:
Should seniors who use Medicare as their only health insurance plan receive, dollar for dollar, what they paid into the program? In other words, are those who are receiving Medicare benefits "entitled" to take more than they "saved" in the program? After all, those who are using more than they paid into the program, are spending the revenues that have been collected from those who are working right now. If Medicare is not changed, should these younger citizens be denied their saved revenues given to today's seniors? Should seniors, and those approaching the age of Medicare eligibility, be expected to pay for, or plan for, their post-retirement health insurance benefits outside of government health care? When does personal responsibility for one's health care begin?
For those of us who were not around when Congress enacted Medicare, the program was originally meant to be a program to provide medical and hospital insurance for those over the age of 65. It was never intended
to be a "social justice" program for younger individuals, as it often seems to be used today, and, very likely, was never intended to be the "universal healthcare" program for all Americans, as Obamacare will eventually become if it is not repealed. Those who argue that Medicare is about "taking care of the elderly," might spend more time visiting their aging parents and grandparents.
This leads to the issue
that some conservative/libertarians have with Congressman Ryan's Path to Prosperity Medicare plan; that his proposal
to keep Medicare as it is for people who are currently over 55, simply does not go far enough. They would prefer the more ambitious plan he mapped out in his Roadmap for America
, which better accounts for the mandatory revenues being collected from current younger taxpayers.
Whatever Americans may think about Congressman Paul Ryan's Medicare plan, the fact is that he has allowed the "adult conversation" to begin. Perhaps more importantly, he is preparing all of us for the big changes in Medicare that lie ahead.