The Threat to Medicare


I don’t think I could survive without Medicare. As an 80-year-old diabetic with a heart condition, failing kidneys and various other ailments, it would be impossible for me to afford the medical care I need. And I am not alone. Far from it. To many – perhaps most – of us older Americans, Medicare is the difference between life and death.

So you can imagine my horror at the prospect of losing it. And that seems quite possible as the Republicans get set to “govern.”

According to Salon’s Joan Walsh:

High on their list, according to the New York Times, is implementing Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to “overhaul” Medicare by replacing it with “premium support” vouchers designed to privatize the system over the coming decades. They will also form a commission to examine “options” for Social Security, which Ryan has also long favored privatizing.

How scary is that? I can just see me shopping around for some private health insurance plan armed with a “voucher” that may not cover the premiums.

Social Security and Medicaid are also in grave danger. The Republicans hate “social programs” and  have been trying to get rid of them from the beginning. Now they have their chance.

What’s to become of the thousands of older Americans who depend on Medicaid to pay for their nursing home care? What’s to become of the disabled?

We know how Republicans hate food stamps and WIC. We know the unemployed are in for a rough two years. And we know poor children will lose their school lunches. It’s all spelled out in the Ryan Budget, which Republicans have adopted.

We seniors knew before the election that Republicans would target the money we get as they slash taxes for corporations and the rich. And yet the GOP won voters over 65 by 16 points!

But does that mean we deserve what’s coming? Must those of us who voted Democrat share the pain of those who brought the GOP to power?

It looks like it.

We can only hope Democrats in the Senate will use the filibuster as vigorously as the Republicans did when they were in the minority. And we must depend on President Obama’s veto power as our last line of defense.

Click for Joan Walsh’s column.

Click for more on the Ryan budget.