The 7 Most Awful Truths You Need to Know About Paul Ryan’s War on Medicare

Depending on who you listen to these days, the Paul Ryan/GOP plan to change Medicare either: “ends Medicare,” “ends Medicare as we know it” or “saves Medicare for the future.” The truth is, the Ryan plan would still provide a plan called “Medicare,” but the program would be changed so substantially that it would be like the loveable Medicare you once knew went face first through a plateglass window. It might still be called “Medicare,” but you would hardly recognize it.

The following facts about the Ryan/GOP Medicare plan come with links to their sources, including the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the non-partisan, and the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation. Please note all the hyperlinks. This is not some stuff I just made up.

1. Privatizing Medicare will actually increase the cost of Medicare.
In the first year under Ryan’s plan, privatizing Medicare would cost 11 percent more than it would for providing exactly the same services under the current Medicare plan. And the additional cost for going private would just widen over time. By 2022, the CBO estimates that a privatized system would cost 34 percent more than if the current system were simply maintained.

2. Everyone now 55 and younger will get hit with a whopping increase in their out of pocket costs.
The CBO estimates that the Ryan plan would result in huge out-of-pocket increases in the cost of health care. This kind of foreseeable increase in costs actually works just like a tax increase. And it is an increase aimed squarely at retiring seniors. According to the non-partisan Politifact: under the Ryan plan, those just becoming eligible for Medicare 10 years from now would have to pay nearly $6,400 more than they would under the current plan.

3. That means that if you are struggling now, you would really be in for a really rough ride under the Ryan plan.
According to the CBO analysis: “paying more for health care would be particularly challenging for elderly people with less savings and lower income.”

4. Insurance bureaucrats would “come between you and your doctor.”
According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office: “Private health insurers would probably impose greater utilization management than occurs under traditional Medicare.” A Utilization Management Panel is the kind of thing Sarah Palin likes to call a “death panel.” But since this is a Republican idea, we can expect she will call it something that makes it sound cute and cuddly.

5. The Ryan plan is especially bad news if you live in a place like Boston.
The absence of a geographic adjustment in the plan could have significant implications for high-cost areas of the country, such as Boston. The plan would be significantly sweeter if you live where most of your neighbors are cows.

6. The Ryan plan would essentially put a big dent in the discretionary retirement income of everyone now 55 or younger.
Under the Ryan proposal, anyone who is now 55 or younger and who would retire in 2022 or later, would be expected to devote nearly half their monthly Social Security checks toward their health care costs. This is not exactly the kind of fun most people yearn for one day when they retire. It is more than double the percentage they pay under current Medicare law.

7. The Ryan plan could act as an “innovation killer.”
According to the CBO analysis: “beneficiaries’ greater cost-sensitivity could result in a slower introduction or less frequent use of new, costly, but possibly beneficial, technologies and techniques than would occur under current law.”

All in all, if the Ryan plan were to pass, that period of life now called the “Golden Years” might be in need of a significant name change. Suggestions?