Saturday, August 11, 2012

Today is a good day. Now on to tomorrow

Today is National Paul Ryan Day.  Good.  It feels good to be excited about the Republican ticket.  I hadn't been excited thus far.  Oh, I've had every intention to vote against Barack Obama.  But prior to today I haven't had been terribly enthusiastic about voting for Mitt Romney. 

Word on the street is that the Dems are chomping at the bit over the Ryan pick.  I have to give the Dems credit, the are consistently short sighted.  Or as Stacy said:

This is predictable, and is the best argument for picking a conservative like Ryan: No matter whom Romney had chosen, the Democrats would have demonized the GOP running mate as a Jekyll-and-Hyde combination of Dick Cheney and Martin Bormann.

In that kind of situation, why not go bold?

So we’ll have a few days of “evil heartless Paul Ryan,” then the Democrats will go back to the “clueless rich guy Romney” message and then, if the Romney-Ryan ticket moves ahead of Obama in the polls, they’ll start playing the Mormon card with frenzied desperation.
So, how do we stem the coming tide of lies, distortions and hysteria?  I say we take a path untrodden by our "progressive" brethren-let's combat idiocy with knowledge.  Let's start by familiarizing ourselves with Medicare and with Paul Ryan's plan.

Ryan seeks to reverse this impending cost disaster by instituting a new program beginning no earlier than January 2021 affecting only those aged 55 and younger. The plan has the following major elements: 

Part A and Part B trust funds are combined to create one unified trust fund.  The new Medicare Program and the existing program continue to be financed by trust fund revenues, Medicare payroll taxes, and general revenue contributions as done now.
  • By January 2021, insurance companies must establish competing healthcare coverage plans with specified benefits and limitations.  Some would provide only high-deductible catastrophic coverage.  Others could provide more liberalized coverage.  Medicare would establish categories of generalized coverage.  All plans which met specified requirements would become "Medicare certified" and eligible for premium payment cost sharing.
  • Each patient would select from the approved list a plan best matching his or her expected healthcare needs for the coming year.  Medicare would reimburse the health plan a fixed amount of money for each enrollee for premium payment support.  If the Medicare-provided assistance exceeded the premium required for the selected plan, that excess would be credited to a "Medical Savings Account" (MSA) for the beneficiary's future use.
  • Ryan currently estimates the reimbursement amount at an average $11,000 -- with further adjustment determined by income level.  Higher-income patients would receive less premium assistance.  Beneficiaries with annual incomes below $80,000 ($160,000 for couples) would receive full standard payment amounts; beneficiaries with annual incomes between $80,000 and $200,000 ($160,000 to $400,000 for couples) would receive 50 percent of the standard; and beneficiaries with incomes above $200,000 ($400,000 for couples) would receive 30 percent.
  • After enrollment in a plan, all beneficiaries could, at their option, undergo an annual health "risk adjustment" examination.  Results of this exam would be submitted to Medicare and become eligible for a higher risk-adjusted premium payment.
  • To further assist those individuals with incomes near or below the poverty level, Ryan proposes additional payments above just premium support.  While any enrollee, regardless of income level, would be able to set up a tax-free MSA if desired, the new Medicare Program would specifically establish and fund an MSA for low-income beneficiaries to help them with deductible payments required for care procedures.  The amount paid to those below the government-established poverty level would be equal to the deductible for the average Medicare high-deductible health plan.  Those with incomes at or 50 percent above the poverty level would receive 75 percent of the full deposit
  • Recognizing that Americans are becoming healthier than ever before and living much longer, Ryan further proposes that a phase-in of the start of the new Medicare program would, after 2021, be raised in a slow incremental fashion from the current age 65 to 69 years 6 months.
As proposed, the Ryan Medicare plan resembles the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP).  In the FEHBP model the government provides a set financial contribution each year.  Employees and retirees have a variety of options, including catastrophic coverage plans with high deductibles, health maintenance organizations, and high-end plans with many choices of doctors and other providers.  Everyone has a choice of at least 10 fee-for-service plans, but the exact number varies by where an enrollee lives.
Hmmm.  The Ryan plan is good enough for federal employees but it is the end of the world for the rest of us peons?  And no one will be wheeling Grannie off a cliff 'cause Grannie is over the age of fifty-five and so Ryan's plan doesn't affect Grannie.  The point of Ryan's plan is to fulfill the promises made to our older citizens without bankrupting future generations. 

By choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate Romney has shown that he is serious about getting our fiscal house in order.  Let's help him.  Today is for feeling good.  Tomorrow we join the battle, armed with knowledge and conviction, and ready to fight for the future of our country. 

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