Friday, July 30, 2010

The Republican threat to Medicare

Posted By on Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 9:17 AM

The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee continues to use Medicare's 45th anniversary to highlight what Republican control could mean to the popular program. Nine Republican Senate candidates have made threatening remarks about it, including Rep. John Boozman. Said the release:

Boozman Voted to Replace Medicare With a Private Program. In April 2009, Boozman voted for a GOP alternative budget by Rep. Paul ryan that called for "replacing the traditional Medicare program with subsidies to help retirees enroll in private health care plans."

In that private insurers have double the overhead of Medicare (often with less coverage) the idea of privatizing Medicare is a fair topic of discussion this election season. Paying for Medicare going forward is also a fair topic for all candidates and the old cliches about cutting fat aren't sufficient.


As Americans across the country celebrate the 45th anniversary of Medicare being signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is attacking nine Republican Senate candidates who want to take Medicare away from their would-be constituents. Medicare, which provides quality health insurance to those 65 and over, has been one of the most successful and popular government programs in American history. While Democrats will fight to preserve Medicare, these nine Republicans candidates will fight tooth and nail to abolish it should they win this November.

“On the 45th anniversary of Medicare, Republican Senate candidates are running to take it away,” said DSCC National Press Secretary Deirdre Murphy. “Fortunately, voters will have a choice this fall, between Democrats who will fight to preserve Medicare, and Republicans who will fight to abolish it.”



· Angle On Medicare: “We Need To Phase It Out.” In October 2009, the Review-Journal reported, “As for Medicare, she (Angle) said the entitlement program popular with seniors will eventually grow too costly to maintain… ‘We need to phase it out,’ she said.” [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 10/21/2009]


· Paul: Medicare Is Soviet Union Socialism. A Courier-Journal review of Paul’s prior statements found he had compared Medicare to Soviet socialism. “Advancing his belief that health care prices should be set by the marketplace, Paul also has attacked having government set Medicare reimbursements for doctors,” the Courier-Journal said. “The fundamental reason why Medicare is failing is why the Soviet Union failed — socialism doesn't work," Paul said on Kentucky Tonight on June 16, 1998. "You have ... no price fluctuation.” [Courier-Journal, 6/21/2010; Kentucky Tonight 1998 archives]


· Coats: I Want To Work With Rep. Ryan On His Ideas for Entitlement Reform. In July 2010, Coats praised Rep. Paul Ryan’s ideas for entitlement reform and vowed to work with him on passing them if elected. He said, “Paul Ryan has come up with some very sensible ideas, I have talked personal with Paul I have read his materials and there are many many things in there that I agree with and want to work with him on. UUhh it basically says we are out of money and we are deeply in debt. And if we are going to have a future in this country for our children and our grandchildren and going to have jobs available and be the country of opportunity and be the country that can lead the world and the economy we have to come up with some reforms. And Paul has come up with some very constructive ideas and so have other republicans.” [Greg Garrison Show, 7/12/10]

o Ryan Plan would Eliminate Traditional Medicare. “The Ryan plan would eliminate traditional Medicare, most of Medicaid, and all of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), converting these health programs largely to vouchers that low-income households, seniors, and people with disabilities could use to help buy insurance in the private health insurance market.” [Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 7/07/10]


· Vitter Endorsed Plan to Privatize Medicare. In September 2009, Vitter endorsed a report from the conservative Pelican Institute that promoted ending the employer-based health insurance system. According to the Times-Picayune, “U.S. Sen. David Vitter has endorsed a new study from a conservative think tank that calls for scrapping the nation’s employer-based health insurance system in favor of individually owned policies and converting the Medicaid program into vouchers for private insurance.” Vitter called the report “an important contribution to the debate.” [Times-Picayune, 9/15/09]


· Johnson: Rep. Ryan Has Laid Out “Common Sense Approaches” on Entitlement Reform In May 2010, Johnson praised Rep. Paul Ryan’s privatization plan. He said, “You know, in his “Roadmap for America,” [Paul Ryan] starts laying out some possibilities, I think some common-sense approaches, on you know, recognizing the fact that, I mean, when these programs were implemented, life expectancy was far shorter. You know, so, life expectancy has gone on. So I mean, you have to recognize that reality and start making adjustments to the program to figure out how you can keep these things sustainable so they’re around for people.” [Johnson Wisconsin Eye Campaign 2010 Interview, 5/26/2010]


· Boozman Voted to Replace Medicare With a Private Program. In April 2009, Boozman voted for a GOP alternative budget by Rep. Paul ryan that called for "replacing the traditional Medicare program with subsidies to help retirees enroll in private health care plans." [Star Tribune, 4/03/09; Vote 191, 4/02/09]


· Blunt Voted to Replace Medicare With a Private Program. In April 2009, Blunt voted for a GOP alternative budget by Rep. Paul ryan that called for "replacing the traditional Medicare program with subsidies to help retirees enroll in private health care plans." [Star Tribune, 4/03/09; Vote 191, 4/02/09]

· Blunt: Government Should Never Have Gotten In The Health Care Business. During a radio appearance on The Eagle 93.9, Blunt suggested that government should never have gotten in the health care business, citing Medicare and Medicaid as examples of government intervening in the health care business “in a big way.” HOST MIKE FERGUSON: What is the proper role of government, and what are the potential impacts of the direction that we're going right now? BLUNT: Well, you could certainly argue that government should have never have gotten in the health care business, and that might have been the best argument of all, to figure out how people could have had more access to a competitive marketplace. Government did get into the health care business in a big way in 1965 with Medicare, and later with Medicaid, and government already distorts the marketplace.” [The Eagle 93.9, 7/10/09; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 7/10/09]

· Blunt: "Medicare Has Never Done Anything To Make People More Healthy.” During a July 2009 campaign event in Hannibal, Blunt said Medicare had never done anything to make people healthier. BLUNT: "We've had Medicare since 1965, and Medicare has never done anything to make people more healthy. If there's any opportunity for more healthy activity, it's going to be, again, a private, competitive industry..." [Becky Thatcher’s, Hannibal MO, 7/25/10; Missouri Democratic Party; Fired Up Missouri, 7/29/09]


· Norton: Government Shouldn’t Be In Health Care Business. In January 2010, Norton called on supporters to sign an online petition “if you agree that the government shouldn’t be in the health care business.” “Health care needs real, common-sense reforms. A government mandated, and government controlled, health care system is not the solution… If you agree that the government shouldn't be in the health care business, show your opposition by signing this petition today.” [, Accessed 1/5/10]

· Buck Questioned Federal Government’s Role in Running Health Care Programs. As reported by Politico, “At a March forum, Buck said. ‘The idea that the federal government should be running health care or retirement or any of those programs is fundamentally against what I believe. And that is that the private sector runs programs like that far better.’” [Politico, 6/28/10]

Medicare state statistics found at

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