Like most Republicans, Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen voted to support Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare plan. This plan would do away with Medicare as we know it, replacing it with a voucher system that most health experts agree would not cover the cost of comprehensive coverage. The rest of the expense would fall on the American people.
It appears that Mitt Romney has endorsed the Ryan plan, but no one seems quite sure, least of all Mr. Romney. Ryan hastens to point out he has modified his plan to allow those over 55 to keep the current plan while those under 55 would have a choice, the old plan or the new one. Dividing Medicare into two separate plans cannot result in both of them remaining strong. Ryan, for example, fails to note that the traditional Medicare program would be at significant risk if younger, healthier recipients opt for the voucher system.
By supporting the Ryan plan, Frelinghuysen has attacked the president’s plans for Medicare. It is important to note there are several points the defenders of the Ryan plan persist in misrepresenting:
- The President has not cut dollars from Medicare, but rather reduced the rate of growth in the program.
- The dollars moved from Medicare to the Affordable Care Act are used for Medicare purposes, gradually filling, for example, the so called “doughnut hole” for seniors needing prescription drugs. No one with traditional Medicare will suffer a loss of any services, though Medicare Advantage, an optional managed care plan that purchases private coverage, is being cut. Managed Care offered the promise of reduced cost, but over the years has proven more costly than the standard fee-for-service Medicare, hence the cuts.
- Ryan cuts the same $716 billion in his plan as the president - but where the president cuts from providers, Ryan’s cuts come from recipients.
The Republican Party platform obviously does not want affordable health care for all Americans. The Ryan plan – supported by Frelinghuysen – dismantles the Affordable Care Act that finally gave health care benefits to more Americans, cuts current no-cost screenings (one wonders why anyone would be against preventive health care services), and would soon raise costs on retirees across the country by up to $6,000 a year.
There are industrialized countries on this planet that provide health care for all citizens. There are countries where health care is considered a human right, not a privilege for the wealthy. If we follow the Romney/Ryan/Frelinghuysen plan, health care in the United States will remain a privilege. Under the Republican plan, more than 45,000 Americans will continue to die every year just because they don’t have health insurance. Luckily, we have the privilege to choose which approach to our health we prefer by voting in the upcoming Nov. 6 election.