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Wednesday, 20 April 2011 20:31

GOP Medicare plan is totally off-base

Written by 

To the Editor:

The Republican design on Medicare comes straight from that dubious chapter of the Vietnam War in which “it became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”

Rep. Paul Ryan’s voucher scheme would destroy Medicare as surely, if not as fast, as repealing it. It is wrong in so many ways as to be diabolical:

• By making it easier for Congress to freeze payments and then slash them. For all their presumed influence, seniors have less lobbying clout than the doctors and hospitals Medicare presently pays directly.

• By putting America’s elderly on the hook for ever-increasing costs, captives once again to the health insurance racket and the vagaries of charity care.

• By pitting those who are already seniors against those who hope to live to be. Nothing could be more cynical than to say to some of us, “You can keep your Medicare. We’re throwing only younger folk under the bus.”

We have already tried “consumer choice” and “competition.” The notion that patients can spend more wisely out of pocket is woefully unrealistic. What are your options when you’re felled with a stroke or heart attack? Only to go where they take you, or lie there and die.

If the commercial market were as efficient as the Republicans pretend, health care would not be costing America nearly half as much again as the average of all 30 nations that belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Health consumes 16 percent of our gross domestic product, compared to 10.3 in Canada, 11.2 in France, and 10.5 in Germany, to name only a few of the nations that provide universal coverage without socializing doctors. The excuse here is that we have the best health care in the world, but do we really? Our life expectancy of 77.9 is nearly two years less than the OECD average.

As a citizen on Medicare, I’m willing to do my part for our country’s future. For starters, I could pay more for the prescription drug plan that a Republican president failed to finance. I could also pay higher taxes. But the Republicans don’t want to share the burdens fairly — not when they refuse even to consider tax increases for people like Donald Trump.

Martin A. Dyckman

Waynesville

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