Here we go again. The privatizers are going to be back in charge and they are already getting their plans ready for Medicare and Social Security. Their plans aren’t supported by the general public and we will need to fight and prove that by defeating their proposals.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said after the election he intends to push for his plan to privatize Medicare by turning it into a voucher program. Apparently he didn’t get the message that economic anxiety in the middle class was the story of this election. Turning the guarantee of Medicare coverage into a voucher that will be capped offers no security and probably will lead to major increases in costs for older and disabled persons.
I am sure we will hear all kinds of bromides about how this change is necessary and won’t hurt people. It will make the system more efficient. However, the proposal is being made in order to cut funding for Medicare by forcing beneficiaries to have to fend with a set amount of money. There will almost certainly be no attempt to restrain what insurers charge for the coverage as well as what drug companies. We will be told that competition will keep prices in line. With less money in the system insurers will raise their rates as they look to cherry pick those the healthier persons who cost less to cover. As always, those with the greatest needs and costs will be hurt the most.
Of course, we won’t hear much about how the private insurers will spend loads of money on advertising and overhead plus high salaries to their executives. They will spend a lot less of the Medicare dollar on patients than the federal Medicare program does now.
Ryan’s proposal may not even have the support of Donald Trump. His own members in Congress will also have to worry about a backlash, just like the one that occurred the last time he pushed this and like when President Bush tried to privatize Social Security in 2005. We will wait to see exactly what is proposed but it is not likely to be good. The way to win this battle is to organize with the facts and prove how it will make life worse for Medicare beneficiaries. When that happens, as it did before, even many Republicans in states like New York refused to go along.