BARTH: GOP Medicare plan: You’re on your ownAs a Republican Party congressional leader, Kristi Noem voted twice for the radical Ryan/Republican budget which even the conservative Wall Street Journal believes “...would essentially end Medicare.”
By: Jeff Barth , Guest columnist
In a May 1 guest editorial in The Daily Republic, Republican state Sen. Tim Rave defended Kristi Noem against the accusation that she voted to “... end Medicare as we know it.”
The accusation was made days earlier by my opponent in the June 5 Democratic primary to choose who will face Noem in November.
In defending Noem, Rave accused my opponent of “misleading voters,” using “scandalous tactics,” telling “blatant lies,” “lying to South Dakota seniors” and, perhaps worst, describing him as “excitable” and a “young politician.”
Normally, I would allow a third party, particularly a distinguished leader of the Republican Party, to cast as many verbal insults as he or she wants at an opponent of mine.
But on this occasion I take exception because I too agree that Kristi Noem has voted to “... end Medicare as we know it.” The proof is clear.
As a Republican Party congressional leader, she voted twice for the radical Ryan/Republican budget which even the conservative Wall Street Journal believes “...would essentially end Medicare.”
What the Wall Street Journal knows and what Kristi Noem and Senator Rave fail to mention is that the Ryan/Republican budget would change Medicare into a voucher-like system in which eligible participants (those 65 and older and the disabled) would receive $7,500 to purchase insurance instead of receiving the direct Medicare coverage they do now.
Put another way, the Ryan/Republican budget would change Medicare from a “fee for service” system for all eligible participants into a “subsidized premium” insurance system in which everyone must find their own insurance.
(Needless to say, insurance companies salivate at the prospect of 48 million Americans now on Medicare forced into the private, for-profit insurance market.)
Kristi Noem and Rave contend her vote represents an attempt to reform Medicare. In truth, the Ryan/Republican budget will require beneficiaries to pay more and more out-of-pocket for health care as the vouchers, capped to grow at less than the historic rate of medical costs, become too small to cover rising health care costs.
It will increase the Medicare eligibility age to 67 after 2023. And, most troubling, it will lead to the end of Medicare as for-profit insurers entice healthier and younger beneficiaries to their plans, leaving Medicare with sicker and older beneficiaries whose costs will make traditional Medicare unsustainable.
Rather than a reform, as Kristi and Rave contend, the Ryan/Republican budget throws the baby out with the bathwater.
Additionally, the Ryan/Republican budget and Kristi Noem seek to end Obamacare’s protections against the insurance industry’s practice of refusing coverage for “pre-existing conditions” and canceling policies if you get sick and cost too much.
Many older folks I know (like my mom) have pre-existing conditions: diabetes, COPD, cancer, heart trouble and many more.
What for-profit insurance company will take on those burdens for $7,500 a year? And what about the drug costs?
Bottom line, under the Noem supported Ryan/Republican budget, when you get old, when you get sick, you are on your own.
Jeff Barth, of Sioux Falls, is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House.