The Democrats threw down the gauntlet at their convention in Charlotte this week, putting health care front and center and warning the Republicans that they won’t get away with more of the health care fear-mongering they’ve been stirring up for years. This strategy was solidified on the second night of the convention when President Bill Clinton, in the words of former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum, “detonated the H-bomb of the 2012 campaign: the Medicaid issue.”
President Clinton electrified the delegates and millions of television viewers with a stark warning about the GOP’s plans: “They also want to block-grant Medicaid, and cut it by a third over the coming 10 years,” he said. “Of course, that’s going to really hurt a lot of poor kids. But that’s not all. Lot of folks don’t know it, but nearly two-thirds of Medicaid is spent on nursing home care for Medicare seniors who are eligible for Medicaid.”
Clinton’s observations on Medicaid exposed the big lie that Romney and Ryan’s health care plans won’t harm current seniors. The truth-challenged Republican candidates always point out that their plan to voucherize Medicare and increase the medical costs of seniors by thousands of dollars a year won’t affect anyone who has already turned 55. But they don’t just want to eliminate Medicare as we know it. The Romney-Ryan block-grant scheme would make immediate and steep cuts to Medicaid that would lead to as many as 30 million Americans getting dumped from the program. Two-thirds of Medicaid spending is for seniors and people with disabilities.
Ryan and Romney also dodge another part of their plan that will hurt current seniors — repealing Obamacare, which will re-open the Medicare prescription drug “donut hole” and eliminate prescription discounts that have already saved 5.4 million seniors $4.1 billion.
When Romney and Ryan push for deep cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, it isn’t about health care policy or deficit reduction – it’s to give massive tax breaks to the richest Americans. These unconscionable tax cuts average up to $250,000 for millionaires.
Ever since Ryan proposed his draconian budget in 2011, we have been pointing out that the Affordable Care Act and the Medicaid expansion it includes are as important as Medicare to the economic security of seniors and their middle-class families. This is no courageous innovation from the GOP vice presidential candidate, as his press agents would have us believe. It’s a cost-shift of billions of dollars that will bludgeon state taxpayers and dramatically limit care to children, the elderly and working families. (more…)