Yet since the passage of President Obama’s healthcare overhaul, it’s become obvious that Republicans are the ones who want to preserve Medicare. The Democrats’ “plan” is for the program to run out of money in just 12 years and begin rationing care even sooner.
This isn’t hyperbole. According to the 2012 Medicare Trustees Report, Obama’s healthcare overhaul would sustain Medicare to just 2024, after which the program would be insolvent.
Indeed, as has been reported extensively in the press, President Obama’s landmark health law cuts $716 billion from Medicare to fund itself.
Obamacare also creates an unelected board of bureaucrats to make across-the-board cuts to the program, largely free from congressional oversight. Medicare’s own actuary has concluded that healthcare providers “might end their participation” in Medicare in the face of such cuts.
Right now, President Obama is pushing to weaken the program’s prescription drug benefit, known as Part D, which more than 1.2 million Georgians rely on for vital medications.
It’s critical for Georgia’s representatives in Washington to stand up for our state’s seniors and preserve Medicare by protecting the parts that work and reforming the parts that don’t.
Consider the GOP’s biggest contribution to Medicare, the Part D prescription drug benefit.
Many conservatives opposed the creation of Part D. It was, after all, a new government entitlement. But before the program was created, a full third of Medicare beneficiaries went without drug coverage. This didn’t make any sense — after all, an inexpensive, preventive medicine is far more cost-effective than an emergency surgery and expensive hospital stay.
Republicans designed the program to be dramatically different from other government healthcare programs, which are centered on government control.
They created a market-driven program that gives patients a say over their healthcare dollars. The government subsidizes and supervises the drug program, but relies on competition between private benefit plans to expand choice, improve quality, and lower costs.
The results of the program are impressive.
Today, more than 90 percent of seniors have drug coverage. Use of prescription medication has increased by about 13 percent. Now that they can afford to, seniors are taking the medications they need.
Further, thanks to the program’s competitive structure, premiums in the program are holding flat even as health insurance prices are rising across the nation. In September, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that for the third year in a row, average Part D premiums would come in at just $30 a month.
The program is also costing taxpayers less than anyone expected — undershooting the Congressional Budget Office’s initial projections by a whopping 43 percent. It’s the only part of Medicare that’s beating cost projections.
It does all this while also offering extra assistance to the truly needy.
That’s a big deal here in Georgia, where about 352,000 Medicare beneficiaries qualified for coverage with no premiums and another 86,000 qualified for premium reductions.
It’s no wonder, then, that the program gets high marks from seniors, with 90 percent reporting satisfaction.
Shockingly, President Obama has chosen to target this part of the program for cuts. He’s proposed a system of mandatory manufacturers’ rebates for drugs sold to low-income seniors.
The idea is to squeeze drug companies to obtain savings by hitting them with a new, tax-like fee. But these de facto taxes will really only shift costs to other parts of the system. Under Obama’s plan, seniors would pay 20 to 40 percent more for their premiums, according to former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin.
Democrats have had it in for Part D’s market-based design since the beginning. In 2003, the House Democratic leader warned that the program was “the beginning of the end of Medicare as we know it.”
No, it wasn’t. It was the beginning of the end of government command and control in the system — which is how Republicans plan to save Medicare for current and future generations.
Ted Daywalt is the president of VetJobs.com in Marietta. He is a retired U.S. Navy captain.