(David Mansdoerfer) – When Congressman Paul Ryan came out with his Roadmap for America’s Future, Democrats began pounding him calling it an attack on the elderly, ludicrous and cruel. Ryan’s plan, which tries to tackle the growing debt crisis, calls for the creation of Medicare Vouchers. These vouchers, which Ryan’s office estimates to be worth approximately $11,000 each, could then be used to purchase private health insurance policies.
Lost in the political rhetoric, people neglect to look at actual details of this plan.
1. These vouchers won’t affect anyone over the age of 55.
2. Each of the plans will be Medicare certified. This means that each of these plans will cover basic needs and have to compete in the marketplace.
3. Benefits will be income and risk sensitive. This means that lower income recipients will receive additional benefits. On top of this, recipients with greater health needs will also receive higher benefits.
4. This plan would fully fund Medical Savings Accounts (MSA) ($3,050 per year) for low-income beneficiaries.
So, if this plan were to go into effect, the average Medicare recipient could then spend $8,000 a year on a policy, and then roll over the additional $3,000 to a MSA.
As of 2011, there is a $1,132 deductible for Medicare Part A and a $162 deductible for Medicare Part B. After the deductible is met in Medicare Part B, recipients then pay 20% of the negotiated rate. If these remain constant, voucher recipients could use the money in their MSAs to meet their deductibles and still have $1,700 left over to cover additional expenses accrued throughout the year.
This helps healthier Medicare recipients by giving them the chance to use the money in their MSAs to cover their deductible, and some of their co-pay expenses, before having to use their own money.
A recent poll came out stating that 84 percent of Americans are opposed to Congressman Ryan’s Medicare proposal. As someone who follows tracking and issue polls, I am incredibly skeptical of any poll that states 84 percent of Americans agree on any issue. Usually, when you get these results, the survey is biased or the issue is unclear.
Medicare vouchers, if given the chance, will benefit the elderly and provide the U.S. government the flexibility to sustain Medicare. Using partisan rhetoric to dismiss this idea is irresponsible and unfair to future generations.
These vouchers have the ability to ensure stability and solvency for the Medicare system well into the future. Congressman Paul Ryan should be commended for his vision.
(Mr. Mansdoerfer is the Director of Federal Affairs for Citizen Outreach)