The Medicare crisis is analogous to Middle East peace process. The challenges are well known and the solutions are obvious. Yet, decades go by and politics have kept politicians, and those they serve, out of the end zone. They’ve been fumbling the ball for a generation. Now, it’s 4th down and they want to punt again.
The problem is that the Medicare program is headed toward insolvency. The solution? Here’s three Mensa suggestions:
- Scale back benefits
- Spend more money
- Raise the age of eligibility
This is why reformers are proposing that changes in Medicare would apply only to those who are younger than 55-yrs-old. Of course, the proper Medicare reform proposal would be to implement changes on everyone, or perhaps excepting those who are current Medicare beneficiaries. While no one wants their existing benefits to be cut, this is happening in the private and government sectors throughout the country. Consider the new paradigm for public workers’ collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin and Ohio. With regard to Medicare reform, sparing the over 55 crowd is purely a political calculation. This transparent maneuver is designed to insulate politicians from the wrath of those in the Medicare program and those who are on-deck to enter it.
Representative Paul Ryan, Republican from Wisconsin, has proposed a Medicare reform plan where those under the age of 55 would be given a voucher that could be applied toward private insurance. This was the response from Democrats and President Obama.
This would end Medicare as we know it.
This response is clearly a product of Democratic focus groups, as the same phrase is coming out of so many different mouths.
Considering that American are living and working longer, shouldn’t the age that we become eligible for Medicare be raised, particularly since the program in its current form is not sustainable?
Is the Ryan proposal a panacea? It’s hard to judge the proposal on its merits since the Medicare issue is permeated with politics. I credit him and his supporters for a bold opening to a conversation our government needs to have with us. Instead we’ve been given their version of straight talk, which is as straight as the image below.
I’m under 55-yrs-old and I am willing to delay my entrance into Medicare and to accept reforms that will prevent the program from heading over a cliff. If that happens, and the system crashes to earth, wouldn’t that be a worse outcome than accepting some Medicare modifications?
I’ve conducted my own focus group. When folks ask me why I would change Medicare and toss our elderly overboard, here’s my response. If we don’t implement meaningful structural changes in the program, then
Medicare would end as we know it.