Saturday, September 8th, 2012
An earlier post asked what we learned from the recent Republican convention in Tampa, so it seems only fair to ask what we learned from the Democratic convention in Charlotte.
The answer to the question about Republicans was “not much,” and one has to say the same thing about the Democrats, although for a different reason. Barack Obama has been President for nearly four years, and his policy proposals for reforming Medicare, Medicaid, and health care overall have been signed into law.
Mr. Romney has made it plain he wants to pitch the Obama reform legislation out the window, but he has provided little more than hints and suggestions about what he might replace it with.
A recent CBS News poll found that 50 percent of Americans disapprove of “Obamacare,” the 2010 health reform law. But a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 64 percent of Americans disapprove of the Romney-Ryan plan to turn Medicare into a “premium support” program, in which seniors are on their own to purchase private health insurance policies subsidized by taxes.
It would seem voters have a choice between policies they don’t like and policies they can’t stand.
Health care issues are are the forefront of this election. The outcome will affect us all, young folks and seniors, including those stricken with mesothelioma. Very simply, here is the choice in front of voters:
If President Obama wins the election, it’s safe to say Obamacare will go fully into effect in 2014. By the next presidential election, we will know how well it is working.
The Medicare “doughnut hole” will continue to shrink, providing seniors with better prescription drug coverage, but otherwise seniors should see no change in benefits. Medicaid will be expanded to cover more people, although some states are refusing to participate in the expansion.
Republicans warn that cuts in reimbursement to doctors and hospitals will cause many providers to drop their Medicare patients, and that expanding Medicaid costs too much money. Those are reasonable arguments, and all kinds of smart people have data to back up arguments both for and against President Obama’s reforms. Again, if President Obama is re-elected, four years from now, we should know who is right.
If Mitt Romney is elected, and Congress cooperates, Obamacare will be repealed. However, Mr. Romney has not given us a lot of detail about what the 2010 law would be replaced with, if anything. He’s given us no reason to think he has a serious, workable, comprehensive plan to provide health insurance to the millions of Americans who can’t get it.
He’s also given us no idea what he would do about the gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage — the “doughnut hole” — that “Obamacare” is closing, so assume it will spring open again.
People who turn 55 after President Romney’s inauguration will inherit a very different Medicare program than the one seniors enjoy today. The “premium support” system may or may not end up costing seniors more money. But if previous attempts at partly privatizing Medicare are our guide, it’s more likely seniors would pay more and receive less.
And Medicaid benefits would be given at the discretion of states, meaning many people who are eligible for benefits now might not get them any more. This includes a majority of the patients currently in nursing homes.
It may be that Mr. Romney will reveal more details in these final two months before the election, and that could make the choice clearer. But until that happens, this is where we stand.