The Truth about Medicare Reform
The Truth about Medicare Reform
By: Congressman Tim Huelskamp
As I have written and said many times, America is at a crossroads. The only time to get Her back on track is today, not tomorrow. If today’s leaders are unwilling to make tough decisions, it guarantees that we unfairly burden future generations with devastating debt and massive taxes. And last November’s elections sent a clear message from the American people - they are tired of their leaders standing idly by while problems get worse.
This past month, the House passed its budget blueprint not only for next year, but also a vision for decades to come. I am a supporter of this proposed budget, and let me tell you why: it recognizes that we have a fiscal crisis on our hands, a crisis that is only going to get worse if we do not act now.
Our budget recognizes that America has an obligation to fulfill retirement promises made to those in or near retirement including payment of Social Security and Medicare benefits. But, in order to continue to offer retirement security to those in the future, we cannot afford to ignore desperately needed reforms. Staring us straight in the face right now is the estimate from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that Medicare will go bankrupt in 2021. Medicare trustees say the same thing, but with a wider window: insolvency in 7-19 years.
Our budget, known as the Path to Prosperity, includes common-sense based budget reductions, a flatter and fair tax system, and a smarter, smaller federal government. Included in this vision, it recognizes that Medicare is already starting to drown in red ink. And, instead of ignoring this crisis – which so many Washington politicians have been doing – we actually offer a solution. Medicare as we know it would remain the same for current and near retirees if this Medicare reform plan is adopted by the Senate and signed into law by the President. Again, it does not affect current or near retirees whatsoever.
Borrowing many ideas from a bipartisan commission appointed by then-President Bill Clinton, our Path to Prosperity embraces competition offered through the market to lower cost and to reduce wasteful spending -- all the while offering high-quality service and access to care. For future Medicare beneficiaries, this will help ensure that your local providers continue to participate in Medicare, offer seniors more choices in the marketplace, and end ridiculous malpractice lawsuits. And for those not yet enrolled in Medicare, but still pay for it with their tax dollars, these reforms will keep our nation and our future from being swallowed up by a tidal wave of debt and perpetual deficits.
Fortunately, President Obama agrees with the reality that Medicare is on an unsustainable course. Unfortunately, the President’s solution is very drastic and radical. Instead of common-sense, market-based reforms, Obama imposes an unelected, unaccountable Independent Payment Advisory Board in Washington that will make rationing decisions by squeezing hundreds of billions of dollars in Medicare cuts for current seniors. Instead of exempting current or near retires, his plan would slash billions of dollars from Medicare without significant reforms, severely limiting access to medical services, particularly in rural areas.
Those in and nearing retirement can rest assured that the Republican budget does nothing to their benefits. What it does do, however, is address the looming crisis that threatens to enslave our children and grandchildren for decades to come. Failure to act is not option. And, imposing a draconian unelected Board to ration Medicare services is not the answer. Instead, common-sense reform, consistent with our American ideals of liberty and personal responsibility, is the real solution most Americans want and need. Let’s hope America’s politicians are ready and willing to tackle and debate our Medicare problems now – rather than kicking the can down the road once again.