Romney Medicare plan: What he leaves out is more important than what he says
Speeches are nice, and successful politicians are good at them, but words don't pay the bills. What Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan do not say about Medicare is what voters need to worry about.
Romney and Ryan already have set out on a campaign trail of deception when it comes to Medicare. Both Republican hopefuls have accused President Obama of "stealing" $716 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare – at the expense of elderly. What they leave out is that the $716 billion is in spending reductions, not benefit cuts. The savings were part of a negotiated deal with health care providers to accept lower payments on some services.
The $716 billion savings from contact payment reductions actually preserves Medicare in its current form for 12 additional years. The Romney plan restores the $716 billion in higher payments to health care providers, and bankrupts Medicare in only 4 years.
Obamacare has already kicked-in with extended benefits for Medicare recipients in the form of prescription drug discounts, and free preventive medical care, including no deductible mammograms, and other screening procedures.
Romney boasts that no seniors over 55 will be touched by his Medicare voucher plan. But that's not true either. Not only will they lose their Obamacare prescription discounts, the Romney budget slashes Medicaid, which covers the costs of nursing home care for millions of seniors.
There are other important Medicare details Romney has failed to mention.
In the Medicare voucher plan Romney supports, what happens to all the money workers under 55 have already paid into Medicare through payroll deductions? Does he spend it on tax cuts for millionaires? Defense spending? Where does that money go?
There are also unanswered questions about children and the disabled, who are under 55 and currently covered under Medicare. Do they lose their coverage because they are below the cut-off for the Medicare voucher system? And what company will give them insurance with their pre-existing conditions if Obamacare is repealed?
There are a great many preventive health care services included in Obamacare. Does Romney plan to continue them? Cut them? Or rely on private insurance companies to deal with them on a discounted basis? Or are those costs passed along to seniors, the disabled, an uninsured children?
Apart from a serious lack of details, the Romney solution to health care is a cavernous abyss. There are still some 40 million Americans who have no health insurance, and that is part of the reason for the continual rise in private insurance premiums. The costs from the uninsured are shifted to premium hikes, so providers and insurance companies can maintain their profit margins. The more people there are without insurance, the more it costs everyone else. Obamacare doesn't cover everyone, but it does reduce the number of uninsured Americans by expanding Medicaid, and in 2014, makes health insurance policies less expensive.
Republicans say employers should bear the burden of providing health insurance for Americans out of their business operating expenses and profits – that government run health care is wrong. But what about the millions of Americans who do not work because they are either elderly, disabled, or children?
The Romney approach to health care for Americans leaves nearly half of the country out. Among the U.S. population, 43.5% are either too young, or too old to be part of the workforce. So if you promote an employer-based health care system, what to you do about the disabled and everyone else? Ignore them? Or is Romney's promise only to govern portions of the population?
An American president, no matter who they are, must consider all Americans, not just sections of the population chopped up into convenient demographics.
People understand that the health care issue is complicated. But avoiding details or refusing to answer serious questions is not a trait worthy of any candidate, for any elected office.
America's health care problems are not going to be solved by Romney or Obama unless they find solutions that include all Americans.
If you like to write about U.S. politics and Campaign 2012, enter "The American Pundit" competition. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and November. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded after the November election.