Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"Demagoguing" Medicare

Paul Ryan was interviewed today on MSNBC'S Morning Joe, as reported on NBC News First Read, during which he complained that the president and his party have "decided to demagogue" the issue of his plan to phase out Medicare.  During this interview he complained that the Democrats are “scaring seniors that their current benefits are going to be affected.”  Because his plan doesn't affect anyone 55 and older (the Ryan plan details are in the NBC News article), he doesn't see why seniors should have their tights in a knot about this.

It's because we aren't stupid, Mr. Ryan.  We may be 55 or older, but we don't all have Alzheimer's.  We can see this coming. 

Suppose he succeeds in passing this.  Ten years out, in 2022, all new seniors will go on this "medical exchange" plan.  They'll choose a plan and start getting a federal subsidy from something that Mr. Ryan calls Medicare (but the Congressional Budget Office disagrees).  They will pay a whole lot more for their medical care than the grandfathered seniors using legacy Medicare.  At that point the Republicans will have a ready-made constituency for the argument that the higher cost system should apply to everybody, including those of us who were grandfathered in under the old Medicare system.  And don't think they won't use it.

I'm also fascinated by Ryan's insistence that "You can't be denied" by these new plans.  What will stop them from denying people?  The Republicans' other hot item is the proposal to repeal Obamacare, which is the only thing in history that has ever forbidden insurance companies to deny care.  Does he really think that because we're old we can't think?

Finally, Mr.Ryan, "demagogue" is not a verb.  It is a noun.  It is something you can be - and I believe that you are - but it isn't something you can do.

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