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Trump Is Going To Put An End To Medicare As We Know It

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Older voters — who voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by leaps and bounds — will be worse off under Trump than any of his predecessors.

If President-elect Trump’s plans to privatize Medicare and turn the Great Society staple into vouchers for private health insurance go through, older voters will be paying a much larger portion of their incomes for far less in terms of comprehensive healthcare. This may come as a bit of shock to the 65+ demographic, 53 percent of whom voted for Trump, with just 45 percent voting for Clinton, according to statistics from the Pew Research Center.

As of this writing, the incoming president has not openly stated any opposition to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s long-standing goal of gutting Medicare and turning the nation’s popular single-payer healthcare system for retirees into bare-bones subsidies for elderly Americans. As US Uncut reported this week, the Ryan plan would effectively kick seniors onto private insurance plans that would eat up nearly half of the average retiree’s Social Security check. This is alarming for a number of reasons.

Currently, Social Security — which workers contribute to their entire lives with each paycheck earned — pays out roughly $25,000 a year to the average retired worker. Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” proposal would cap the amount the federal government pays for health coverage at $8,000, even though healthcare costs are expected to continue skyrocketing upward for the forseeable future.

The below graphic from the Kaiser Family Foundation illustrates the adverse effect this would have on seniors living on fixed incomes:

kaiser

Kaiser based its analysis of the Ryan plan on his initial 2011 proposal, though each subsequent proposal is a variation on the first submission with all of the original policy proposals still intact. In studying a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) review of the cost of shifting seniors over to private insurance subsidies, Kaiser found that the Trump/Ryan plan actually costs the federal government more money over time than if the Medicare program simply continued in its current form. This crucial fact undermines the entire premise behind the Path to Prosperity, which is allegedly to save taxpayer money.

“While private plans may be able to achieve lower utilization through tighter cost and care management practices, the CBO believes the total costs of providing a similar benefit package would be higher under private plans than Medicare, and that the differential between the costs under traditional Medicare and the costs under private plans would widen over time,” Kaiser wrote.

Josh Marshall, publisher of of Talking Points Memo, made the same argument in his most recent column:

Providing health insurance coverage to seniors will unquestionably cost more if run through private insurance. No one who has looked at the comparative data on the cost efficiency of Medicare and private carriers can question this. There’s no money savings. Quite the opposite.

Marshall also pointed out the irony of Trump and Ryan proposing private insurance for vouchers, as the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) provides private health insurance to non-retirees the exact same way.

“Obviously, not everyone loves Obamacare. But building an exchange and subsidy adjunct for non-seniors onto an existing and fairly robust private health insurance system is one thing. Creating one from scratch for people who are all pretty much by definition bad risks is close to laughable,” Marshall wrote. “Laughable if you’re not bankrupted or dying because you couldn’t get care.”

According to Marshall, Trump and Ryan aim to begin the permanent phaseout of Medicare in the next six months.

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