Boehner's latest boner: Means-testing Medicare | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Boehner's latest boner: Means-testing Medicare

Posted By on Tue, May 10, 2011 at 8:46 AM

House Speaker John Boehner proposes means-testing Medicare. This would, in time, kill it. The same for means-testing Social Security, another popular idea among Republicans and other 'baggers. The notion that all pay and all receive is the bedrock of the programs' popularity. Writes Talking Points Memo:

Under the plan in the GOP budget, beneficiaries would get means-tested subsidies to buy private insurance. But those subsidies would shrink relative to the cost of health care over time, and soon prove inadequate. Here Boehner is endorsing the concept of means testing, whether applied to Medicare as it exists right now, or privatized Medicare.

"For those who have substantial means, you can pay your own premium," he added.

That's still a controversial position particularly given the relatively modest savings. In essence it would mean requiring a wealthier subset of seniors to pay thousands-more dollars a year out of pocket, after they paid their whole lives into a program meant to significantly limit their costs. And to an extent, it cuts against the basic compact of entitlements — that by treating wealthy and poor beneficiaries equally, the programs win much broader buy-in from the public, which protects them from the sorts of political attacks that make welfare programs so vulnerable.

Bottom line: Republicans want these safety net programs to go away. Those who can afford to live without them will be fine. Those that can't ... tough. They should have worked harder and smarter or been born with a silver spoon.

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