-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
Medicare is the nation’s health insurance program for people age 65 or older. The government acts as the insurer with premiums paid through payroll taxes by both employee and employer. The law was signed in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson and former President Harry S. Truman was the first Medicare enrollee and his wife Bess was the second.
There is a very good reason Medicare exists, private insurers only want to insure (take in premiums) from the young and healthy, those least likely to require payments. Those are the same private insurers who, under the Republican plan, would receive tax payer funds via vouchers from those elderly who can afford the remainder of the “old and sick” premiums. The current guarantee of coverage for all seniors would be a coverage of only those seniors wealthy enough to afford the “old and sick” rate. The Republican plan would effectively end Medicare, but keep the name.
This is a political hot potato for Republicans. Many analysts are citing the Republicans’ plan to end Medicare as a key factor in the GOP’s recent defeat in New York’s 26th Congressional district. In one of the reddest districts in the country, Republican candidate Jane Corwin supported Ryan’s Medicare plan, and lost.
What do Republicans do when they find themselves in a political hole? They keep digging. The Democratic strategy is based on the words of Napoleon Bonaparte, “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” To that end, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy Now have started to air the following ad on TV stations in New Hampshire:
What is the Republican response in the marketplace of ideas? The National Republican Congressional Committee has sent a sharply worded letter to Comcast Boston demanding that the ad be pulled. Comcast Boston has rebuffed the NRCC. Chris Ellis, a spokesman for Comcast’s ad sales division, says that Comcast will continue to air the ad.
As Matt Yglesias puts it:
If a political movement committed to having that program “wither on the vine” and die puts forward a bill to abolish that program and replace it with a system of private vouchers, then it doesn’t matter whether or not the voucher program is still called Medicare. That’s what House Republicans voted to do, and there’s nothing even slightly misleading about calling this an effort to end Medicare. What’s misleading is the effort to use nomenclature to obscure the nature of the change.