Last Saturday, 11 August, as Mitt Romney announced Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate, many eyes began to focus on the subject of Medicare. Long considered a “third rail” in political circles, both parties decided they could make hay on the subject. For the past two years, the Democrats have said that a plan put forth by Congressman Ryan would ultimately toss grannies everywhere off a cliff. There was a commercial that showed exactly that. The Republicans said that it would save Medicare.

     The fact is that Medicare, as it exists now, is unsustainable. Medicare, signed into law by Lyndon B Johnson in 1965, today provides health insurance for 48 million Americans. As time went by, life expectancy increased, causing a burden on the program. Now, the “Baby Boomers” are beginning to turn 65, the age most people become qualified for Medicare. This means an increasing number of recipients and a dwindling workforce. In 1965, there was 4.6 workers per Medicare beneficiary. Today, that ratio is 3.3 workers per person collecting benefits. By 2030, the number of workers supporting each beneficiary will drop to 2.2. This, along with the increase in life expectancy, leads to the insolvency of the program. Something HAS to be done.

     Last year Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, was signed into law, with definite ramifications for Medicare. Buried in the pages of the law, which Nancy Pelosi stupidly said,” We have to pass the bill so we can find out what’s in it”, was one of the provisions for paying for the law. Obamacare actually stripped, according to the Congressional Budget Office, $716 billion out of Medicare to provide funding for the bureaucracy that is Obamacare, most of which goes to fund programs having nothing to do with seniors. Much of the remainder cames from a reduction of reimbursements to the providers. Starting in 2013, reimbursement to providers, the doctors, hospitals and service facilities, will be about 33%, then falling from there to an ultimate rate of 6%. Remember when the President told everyone that, if you liked your doctor, you could keep him? Well, this is one of the reasons that statement isn’t true. How many doctors will remain in practice when they get $6 on a $100 statement. Medicare recipients will have a hard time getting access to medical attention. If you find that hard to believe, look at the doctors who no longer accept Medicaid, due to the same reason.

     The proposal put forth by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, although evolving, goes a different direction. For those 55 and above, there will be NO changes. They have promised that on their first day, they will repeal Obamacare, a law that around 65% of Americans don’t like (that’s before all the tax increases take effect). The $716 billion would be returned to the Medicare program. For those people under 55 who like Medicare the way it is, nothing changes. You can opt to stay with the Medicare program. It may, however,  be more advantageous to go with other programs designed to prolong the life of Medicare. According to the Heritage Foundation, there are several things that can be done to that end. The Romney-Ryan plan, slightly different from the plan Paul Ryan proposed and was passed through the House of Representatives, is fluid enough to encompass many of the things approved by Heritage.

     Obama is campaigning that Romney and Ryan will end Medicare as we know it. The truth is that Obamacare already does that! In addition to the theft of the funding for Medicare, Obamacare has 160 provisions affecting Medicare. As Heritage’s Alyene Senger wrote,” With a raid on Medicare of this magnitude, President Obama’s assertion that his new law is protecting seniors and Medicare is astonishing. The truth is Obamacare does the opposite.”

     As Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan further define their plans for health care and Medicare, I’m sure that more seniors will come to realize that their plan is the better of those on the table. After all, when it comes to their health, seniors aren’t stupid!