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Letter: Romney/Ryan Plans Would Be Devastating To Seniors

Policy changes proposed by Romney and Ryan would be devastating for older adults.

Older adults, and anyone who cares about them, should pay close attention to this year’s electoral campaign.  Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have advocated proposals that fundamentally threaten the primary programs for older adults: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

First, take their position on Social Security. For years, Paul Ryan promoted the partial privatization of Social Security for individuals under age 55.  The 2012 House budget bill, which Paul Ryan wrote and introduced, includes a provision that would enable Congress to fast-track major changes in the program.  The Republican platform states that Social Security “is long overdue for major change” and promises to set “it on a sound fiscal basis that will give workers control over, and a sound return on, their investments” (p. 23).

This sounds suspiciously like a scheme for privatization, and it overlooks the fact that Social Security is not an investment plan but a social insurance plan that provides support not only for older adults but also individuals with disabilities and young people whose parents die prematurely.

Turning to Medicare, Ryan’s plan to turn that program into a premium support, or voucher, system is well known.  Beginning in 2023, Medicare beneficiaries would receive a voucher to buy their own health care coverage.  The problem is that the value of the voucher would likely increase more slowly than the growth of health care inflation, shifting costs to beneficiaries.  The plan would encourage younger and healthier beneficiaries to switch to the private plans, concentrating older and less healthy beneficiaries in traditional Medicare, which would cause costs there to skyrocket.

Complicating this is Romney and Ryan’s promise to repeal Obamacare. Obamacare has extended the life of the Medicare Part A Trust Fund from 2016 to 2024, begun closing the notorious prescription drug doughnut hole, and provided older adults free preventive services.  Repealing Obamacare would reopen the doughnut hole, cause the preventive services to disappear, and move the date of exhaustion of the Trust Fund back to 2016.  This would impact not just people under age 55, but current beneficiaries as well.

Finally, consider their position on Medicaid. The Romney/Ryan plan would be disastrous.  Although we often think of Medicaid as a program for children, the bulk of its spending is on long-term care services for people with disabilities and older adults.  Romney and Ryan would turn Medicaid into a block grant and reduce its funding by a third between now and 2022, pushing the burden of care onto already strapped state budgets.  This hardly seems a prudent policy as the baby boomers begin moving into retirement.

Combined, the policy changes that Romney/Ryan have in mind for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid would be devastating for older adults.  This is bad news for the roughly 20 percent of New Hampshire residents receiving Social Security benefits and 16 percent receiving Medicare.

Sincerely,

Stephen Gorin (Executive Director of the New Hampshire Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.)

San Quentin September 13, 2012 at 04:46 PM
ObamaCare takes 716 Billions dollar from MediCare. How many times do we have to repeat this fact for it to sink in. ObamaCare hurts the Elderly. Ryans Plan keeps that money within MediCare. Why are democrats lying about this issue? Because they will not get reelected that why. Well Democrats did it and so should not be reelected.
Torgjer J. September 13, 2012 at 07:13 PM
"This hardly seems a prudent policy as the baby boomers begin moving into retirement." It is very prudent, because it actually keeps the system solvent for people who retire down the road, and it may allow them to actually save a bit more for retirement themselves. The current system hands out more money to current retirees, leaving future retirees in the hole. If we continue the way we do now, there will be no money at all when I retire, despite having paid into the system for many years.
Steve Mac Donald September 14, 2012 at 10:26 AM
Just keep in mind that Mr. Gorin is a long time state employee, a Liberal professor, a Democrat, and a significant campaign donor to Democrat candidates. What he writes is left wing pablum, scaremongering, and frankly beneath someone of his implied educational prowess. He infers that privatization would be bad, even partial privatization, but where is his calculus on the impending insolvency of a support system he seems to love so much, but that is 16 trillion dollars in debt and adding a fresh trillion in debt every year. The entire US economy cannot back that--are we to believe a handful of rich people paying more taxes will keep us afloat? Scare tactics is not a plan. We are on the brink. These programs will not exist at all if not reformed. There. Will. Be. No. Money. At. All. The government has failed you. Get your head out of the liberal sand. Steve Mac Donald (Conservative) - Blogger/Editor GraniteGrok.com
Jack Kunkel September 18, 2012 at 06:49 PM
With our current rate of adoption of the European system of spending way beyond ability to pay, we too will join the list of bankrupt countries. talk about hurting seniors! when this happens, our currency will be devalued and that $4 a gallon of gas the we so love will then become $8. and see what that does to the price of heating oil, food, and so on ad infinitem.

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