Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney have been campaigning on Medicare–claiming that people over 55 and current Medicare recipients will be unaffected by their proposed conversion of Medicare from a universal comprehensive defined benefit to a variously-defined premium support program.
Iâ€™m not wild about these proposalsâ€”which certainly do not shield current seniors and near-retirees from ill-effects. In repealing health reform, Romney and Ryan wouldÂ re-open the prescription drug donut hole and remove other benefits included in the Affordable Care Act, The New York Times reports that thisÂ would also raise average Medicare premiums by an average of $342 a year over the next decade, $577/year by 2022.
Iâ€™mÂ farÂ more concerned about what Romney and Ryan’sÂ proposals would do toÂ low-income elderly or disabled people, especially the nine million â€œdual-eligiblesâ€ who rely on both Medicare and Medicaid. This is the poorest, sickest, and most complex segment of the Medicare population. These vulnerable men and womenÂ account for about one-third of Medicare’sÂ total costs. TheyÂ also seem out of sight, out of mind, in this year’sÂ campaign debate.
Paul Ryan campaigned inÂ Florida by visiting theÂ Villages, a rather upscaleÂ 25,000-acre retirement location whose website brags about residentsâ€™ high incomes and the areaâ€™s 29 executive golf courses. I wish Ryan would get out of the Villages, and visit some of Floridaâ€™s 400,000 dual-eligible seniors. His proposals to bloc grant and deeply cut Medicaid would hurt this population, would hurt state governments, and would inevitably hurt Medicare, too.
More from me, here in the Daily Beast.