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July 25, 2011 11:20 PM UTC

Coffman: We Must Destroy Medicare In Order To Save It

  • by: Colorado Pols

A fascinating guest opinion piece from GOP Rep. Mike Coffman in stout defense of the 2012 GOP budget proposal authored by Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan–as published in the Lone Tree Voice this weekend, excerpts presented without additional comment. Thoughts?

The Medicare Board of Trustees conservatively places 2024 as the date when the Medicare trust fund will run out of money.  Simply put, Medicare is going bankrupt, and the longer Congress and the president kick the proverbial can down the road, the more difficult it will be to save and preserve the program for future generations of deserving seniors…

The Medicare system must be reformed.  The only comprehensive reform introduced to date in Congress is the idea put forward by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the chairman of the House Budget Committee.  The Medicare reform plan developed by Ryan is now being promoted by many House Republicans.  No doubt, there is a lot of confusion among ordinary citizens all across the country over what this proposal for Medicare reform, which I support, actually does.

The House Republican Medicare reform plan leaves seniors who are either currently on Medicare or those who are age 55 and older alone.  In other words, they will maintain their eligibility and benefits are unchanged.  However, for those under 55, the necessary changes to preserve Medicare will need to be made.  What is important for those who are younger than 55 is that this plan assures them there will be a Medicare program to count on, and gives them adequate time to adjust their retirement planning to reflect the terms of the new program. [Pols emphasis]

…No doubt, supporting any reforms to save and preserve Medicare will always be politically risky because there inevitably will be those who have no plan of their own but who will take every opportunity to attack anyone who has the courage to step forward in support of one.

The Medicare program is slipping into insolvency and it is unsustainable in its current form.  The stakes are far too high for us to continue to ignore this challenge.  Medicare, “as we know it,” must be changed in order to save and preserve it for future generations.


11 thoughts on “Coffman: We Must Destroy Medicare In Order To Save It

  1. I’m surprised that Pols wasn’t detailed to give a lengthy talking point blow by blow rebuttal. How can you let views like this onto your blog without denouncing them to the Central Committee?

    As Coffman notes, the gap between projected revenue and obligations for Medicare is over $30 trillion. Even President Obama has called for reform. The Ryan budget would make Medicare sustainable in the long term. It would give future seniors peace of mind to know that the program they will rely on in old age is solvent. Moreover, wealthy users of Medicare will pay higher premiums to support the system.

    Yes, younger workers may need to adjust their retirement plans. But if Medicare goes bankrupt, that is a certainty.

    Thank you, Rep. Coffman, for eloquently explaining the issues at stake. And thanks for the courage to stand up for what’s right!

    1. Mr. Ryan’s purpose is to give those on medicare a voucher for a set amount of money but that won’t guarantee those individuals will receive medical treatment because Ryan’s plan includes repeal of the the President’s national health care act which means insurance companies can once again deny insurance to those who have preexisting conditions. Almost all seniors on medicare have preexisting conditions.

      The reason medicare was establihed in the 1960’s was because seniors were denied private insurance because they had preexisting conditions. Mr. Rayn’s approach is to give individuals in the same circumstances an useless voucher which won’t buy them anything.

      Let’s attack the real problem while insurning seniors who need medical treatment can get it. First, most individuals pay about $150,000 into medicare during their work life and then take out about $450,000 in benefits. Clearly an unsustainable gap of $300,000 per person on average.

      Second, the health care exchanges through co-ops can do a lot to decrease the cos tof medical care for all ages.  In some cases they can reduce medical costs by up to 20% and yes, the business community supports health exchanges.

      Third, 50% of the cost of an individual’s health care is expended during their last illness. We need to establish a system where families have all the facts about what the various treatment plans can do and whether they are just prolonging life for no reason. The patient or, if the patient is incapacitated, family members would make the ultimate decision and they could opt in for the most expensive treatment option. I went through this with my parents and looking back it would have been far better for them if we would have decided to put them in hospice, keep then comfortable and let them pass on naturally without a lot of heroic medicine that led no where. We could save a huge amount of money but of course that kind of advice was labeled a “death panel” by Gov. Palin. She had no idea what she was talking about.

      All Mr. Ryan’s plan does is send someone a useles government voucher and reestablishes all the impediments that will preclude our seniors from obtaining health care based on the false assumption the fre market will provide health care which, based on past history, it won’t. Mr Coffman is simply mouthing the ideology and talking points. We can do better than that.  

      1. Question: You state “the health care exchanges through co-ops can do a lot to decrease the cost of medical care for all ages…by up to 20%”.

        Is this the cost of insurance or care?

        Other thoughts: Other countries spend half what we do on medical care with equivalent results. How do they do that? Many of those countries, esp. Japan, have an aging population. Can we achieve those savings here? If so, most of the problem goes away.

        If exchanges save money (over Medicare?), great! Though I’m skeptical they could).

        How to make up the rest? Easy – raise premiums, but do so in a progressive fashion.

        Then, if private insurers are more efficient, let them prove it in the marketplace by allowing people to opt out. But to make it reasonable, younger, healthier, wealthier individuals get a smaller voucher. Otherwise, insurers cherry-pick the applicant pool, leaving govt to insure the uninsurable.

        1. Their doctors aren’t multi-millionaires, for one thing. Big pharma isn’t given the goodies to rape and scrape that it is here. T.R. Reid, formerly of the Washington Post, has done an excellent analysis of health care in other countries as compared to ours.

          Medical costs in this country need to be addressed or it’s just re-arranging the Titanic’s deck chairs.

          1. Doctors aren’t multi-millionaires.

            Besides the Frist family (who I work for) I don’t know any.  The most expensive piece of medical technology is the doctor’s pen.  We control what gets prescribed, tests ordered, etc.  Physician salaries are a tiny fraction of healthcare spending, pay doesn’t keep up with inflation, and the days you imagine don’t exist anymore.

  2. I understand. You can’t copy the whole thing.

    Even President Barack Obama has publicly stated that the Medicare program is unsustainable in its current form.  The program’s trustees report that its unfunded long-term liability – the gap between the benefits that will need to be paid out and the revenues available to pay for them over the coming decades – is more than $30 trillion.  It is simply not possible to address this problem only by increasing the taxes that fund Medicare.  Medicare payroll taxes would need to quadruple today in order to cover the program’s unfunded liabilities.

    Quadrupled taxes to pay for Medicare? Run on that, Democrats!

    1. but not dissolved which essentially is what the Ryan plan does. Reformation needs to include 1) higher fees by recipients, 2) $ support of the govt in addition to those fees, and 3)fees paid by insurance companies to cover those they are no longer willing to cover at anything less than exorbitant rates.

      But, the absolute best way to fix Medicare is to make Medicare the insurance policy for ALL Americans.

      1. will, out of the goodness of its heart, provide excellent coverage for prices affordable to retirees on fixed incomes.  Next plan? Tourist trips to the moon on the backs of magic unicorns at low, low prices.

    2. How about we 10x the medicare premium revenue received?

      All we gotta do is open the eligibility to all Americans, and charge actuarially sound market premiums for everyone under 65 – the noobs.

      Problem solved.

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