One of the promises Obama made in his DNC speech was that he would not ever make Medicare into a voucher program. He said,
“I will never turn Medicare into a voucher. No American should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies. They should retire with the care and the dignity they have earned. Yes, we will reform and strengthen Medicare for the long haul, but we’ll do it by reducing the cost of health care, not by asking seniors to pay thousands of dollars more. And we will keep the promise of Social Security by taking the responsible steps to strengthen it, not by turning it over to Wall Street.”
Evidently, when Obama says “never” as in, he will “never” turn Medicare into a voucher, he means “the next day,” because the day after Obama’s speech, the Department of Health and Human Services authorized a pilot “voucher” program that would for now affect about 2 million Medicare recipients. Money would be given to states to pay for private insurance coverage for those who were disabled or who were poor enough to be on both Medicare and Medicaid. These 2 million or so recipients would be booted out of the Medicare program and put on private insurance company policies managed by their respective states and paid for through funds provided by the federal government.
Health and Human Services has accepted applications from 18 different states seeking to participate in this program, and last month, Massachusetts became the first to be approved. States are looking forward to the cost savings supposedly associated with the program. California says it is poised to save $500 million a year.
So why has Obama been railing against Romney/Ryan for their supposed desire to turn Medicare into a “voucher” program and “end Medicare as we know it” when it’s already happening under his watch? Sure, liberals don’t call it a voucher program. But how is it much different from what Obama has accused the Romney/Ryan plan of doing?
Both plans offer what they call “premium support.” The difference between the two plans is that under the current “voucher” program being implemented, eligible people are forced out of Medicare if they meet a certain indigent or disability criteria and placed on state-approved managed care plans. The Romney/Ryan plan simply gives Medicare recipients the option to either stay in Medicare or to choose a private insurer. It doesn’t force anyone out. And even then, it’s only for those under 55.
So, while Obama continues to claim that Ryan’s plan will gut Medicare and turn it into a “voucher program”, Obama’s the only candidate running who has actually gutted it in order to pay for Obamacare, and now, he appears to be the only candidate that’s “turning Medicare into a voucher” and leaving the poorest seniors at the “mercy of insurance companies.”