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Medicare Pilot Program Moves Seniors To Private Health Insurance

How many times have we heard President Obama and his surrogates attack Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for Ryan’s plan to use vouchers to move some senior citizens out of Medicare and into private health insurance plans? When Paul Ryan first announced his plan, after taking over the chairmanship of the House Budget Committee, he was roundly accused of pushing Granny off a cliff in her wheel chair. Those accusations have only grown worse, since he was announced as Mitt Romney’s choice for Vice-President. Even as recent as this week, President Obama attacked the plan in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, using the same kind of rhetoric he has used all along. Never mind if it’s the truth, as long as the attack lines up on his target.

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And I will — I will never turn Medicare into a voucher.

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No American should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies. They should retire with the care and the dignity they have earned. Yes, we will reform and strengthen Medicare for the long haul, but we’ll do it by reducing the cost of health care, not by asking seniors to pay thousands of dollars more. And we will keep the promise of Social Security by taking the responsible steps to strengthen it, not by turning it over to Wall Street.

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I’ll be the first to admit I don’t understand all the ins and outs of the Medicare program. From listening to my Dad, and others who are in the program, it can be challenging to navigate through the details. After reading the details of the Ryan proposal, it seems to me that he wants to allow seniors to choose to switch to the new program and in the process help drive down the cost of Medicare. That’s why I was so shocked to discover a similar program that is being piloted by Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services. The main difference between the pilot program and Ryan’s is that Paul Ryan made his plan optional. Many of the plans being offered by the states who have applied for the pilot program from HHS only have an opt-out provision.

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(National Journal) In his convention speech in Charlotte, President Obama vowed to block the Republican Medicare reform plan Medicarebecause “no American should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies.”

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But back in Washington, his Health and Human Services Department is launching a pilot program that would shift up to 2 million of the poorest and most-vulnerable seniors out of the federal Medicare program and into private health insurance plans overseen by the states.

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The administration has accepted applications from 18 states to participate in the program, which would give states money to purchase managed-care plans for people who are either disabled or poor enough to qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. HHS approved the first state plan, one for Massachusetts, last month.

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Obama’s 2010 health reform law allows experimentation in delivering health care at lower cost through demonstration projects. Many states would like permission to shift their entire population of so-called dual-eligible beneficiaries into the new plans. HHS has indicated that it will enroll about 2 million beneficiaries, out of about 7 million who qualify for full benefits from both government health programs.

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California is already counting on more than $500 million in budget savings from its own program this year. Most states are proposing to automatically enroll people. Those who don’t want to participate would need to opt out. The Massachusetts plan includes that feature.

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From Paul Ryan, we have a proposal to allow seniors to choose to move to a program that gives them the choice of private health insurance, instead of standard Medicare insurance. Keep in mind that Ryan’s program would not affect seniors who are already in Medicare, unless they choose to join the new program he is proposing. Translation, he won’t be pushing Granny off that cliff, any time soon.

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From the Department of Health and Human Services, under the direction of President Obama, we have a pilot program that is designed to move some of the poorest seniors into private health insurance plans, unless they specifically choose to opt-out of the program. If you read further into the details of the plan, you will find that most of the states who are applying for the program are choosing to automatically enroll people in their program. Again, this will mean those seniors will have to make a specific choice to not join the program. If anyone is pushing Granny off that cliff, it is President Obama and HHS.

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Ed Morrissey explains why this is so hypocritical of President Obama.

(Hot Air) Don’t get me wrong — this sounds like a good program to test.  In fact, it sounds a lot like the Medicare Advantage program that Obama gutted to pay for his Medicaid expansion in ObamaCare.  It’s similar to the approach Ryan wants to use to drive down costs, except that Ryan didn’t propose to use the poor as guinea pigs to test it out.  And he certainly didn’t propose his plan quietly while hypocritically railing against private insurance and Wall Street just as the program got ready to start.

I don’t know why I bother being shocked at anything we discover about the Obama administration. These people are masters at talking out of both sides of their mouths. All this time, they have attacked Paul Ryan for his proposals on Medicare, but the provisions included in Obamacare are allowing Obama’s HHS to experiment with the health insurance of seniors. And they say Republicans hate senior citizens? They should go look in the mirror.

About LD Jackson

LD Jackson has written 2053 posts in this blog.

Founder and author of the political and news commentary blog Political Realities. I have always loved to write, but never have I felt my writing was more important than in this present day. If I have changed one mind or impressed one American about the direction our country is headed, then I will consider my endeavors a success. I take the tag line on this blog very seriously. Above all else, in search of the truth.

3 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

  • Dragonconservative

    Now, this is something Romney and Ryan need to mention. Obama’s administration is doing almost exactly what Romney/Ryan are proposing. And yet the Obama campaign still attacks them for “Vouchercare.”

    • I agree. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan needs to work this into their stump speeches. The best cure for darkness is light and this will shed an entirely new light on what Obama is trying to do.

  • I am pretty sure if you look up the word “hypocrite” in the dictionary, you will that the definition is anyone belonging to the Democratic Party.

  • Steve Dennis

    Is it any wonder why people like you and I don’t believe a single word that comes out of Obama’s mouth? At this point I think that Obama is a compulsive liar and he doesn’t even realize the difference between the truth and his lies anymore.

  • Not to bore you, but you mentioned you don’t know much about Medicare. It’s available to all citizens age 65: parts A & B are administered by the federal government. A is major medical-hospitalization only at no charge to the recipient other than a 20% co-pay; B is outpatient care and diagnostics that is optional and costs about $100/month. C and D provide optional additional coverage through the PRIVATE SECTOR at additional cost coordinated with other Medicare benefits; it does things such as pick up co-pays and provides additional services like home care and limited prescription coverage. It’s subsidized to a degree by the government. The private providers do an excellent job on C & D at providing care and operational management.

    Medicaid is a state run program for indigent people who do not qualify yet for Medicare (age or disability). It’s subsidized by the feds with the majority paid for by the states.

    C & D already include managed care options (at additional cost). It sounds as if the new plan you referenced is to provide a managed care option for Medicaid recipients.

    Obamacare raided Medicare by reducing the amounts it pays to physicians and hospitals (Obama calls it “waste and fraud”–lol). The infamous $750 billion. Now, I cannot get a doctor in the town I live in because they are not accepting new Medicare patients. I have to drive 175 miles to see my old doc. Part C premiums have gone through the roof. And my wife’s private health insurance (I raided the cradle–she’s not old enough for Medicare yet, unlike me) has also gone sky-high, all since “The Affordable Health Care Act”. What a joke, if it wasn’t on me.

    My point is, the private sector is already involved in Medicare and doing a good job; and “affordable health care for all Americans” is anything but.

  • rjjrdq

    Here’s the problem. Try and explain this to someone off the street. At least half of them would just give you a blank stare. The other half that would comprehend aren’t voting for Obama anyway. That’s the problem.

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