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Unaccountable America Who Will Mediscare the Dems?

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The End of Medicare As We Know It

by Christopher Chantrill
April 16, 2011 at 12:57 pm

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AS USUAL, Mark Steyn has comically grasped the essence of the budget problem. Democrats are right, he admits, when they say that the Ryan Budget Plan means the end of Medicare as we know it. But let’s be honest about the alternative.

The Democrats’ “plan” — business as usual — will end America as we know it.

That’s because under the Democrats’ business as usual, we will end up Greece or Ireland or Portugal where the government can’t borrow money at the rates offered by the money market. According to Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff in This Time is Different, you typically get to Default City when a government is facing about 10 percent of GDP in annual interest payments.

Meanwhile, in Washington State, we’ve already ended Medicare as we know it, and I’m part of the reason why. I’ll be 65 in about three months and it’s time to sign up for Medicare. I’m thinking of abandoning my conservative principles and signing up for Medicare Advantage with Seattle’s Group Health Cooperative. That way I won’t be buying a Medigap policy from the dreaded AARP.

There are three collective institutions that proudly define the essence of liberal Seattle. There is PCC Natural Markets, “a certified organic grocery store & Seattle Washington co-op;” there is REI, the outdoor clothing and gear co-op, and there in Group Health, “a consumer-governed, nonprofit health care system that coordinates care and coverage.”

According to Group Health’s website, it seems that you can’t get ordinary Medicare at Group Health. For individuals, the choice is between an “Individual & Family” plan or “Medicare Advantage.” So much for the idea that ObamaCare was going to slit the throat of Medicare Advantage. It won’t happen here in Washington State. Talk to a liberal about Group Health and she will get a faraway look in her eye. If she’s over 65 she’s on Medicare Advantage at Group Health.

I figure that long before the Louisiana Purchase and the Cornhusker Kickback and the notorious ObamaCare “waivers” that Seattle liberals already made their Immaculate Reception. Here’s a nickel that says that Sen. Patty Murray (D), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D), Rep. “Baghdad” Jim McDermott (D) and the rest of the Washington State (D) crew got themselves a deal with the White House to protect Group Health. Only you and I never got to hear about it.

GHC has several Medicare Advantage programs and I plan to sign up for the one with the biggest deductible. It makes quite a difference. The plan with the maximum annual out-of-pocket expense of $3,200 has a monthly payment of $19. The plan with the minimum out-of-pocket expense of $1,000 costs $210 a month. On top of that, you get to pay $115.40 a month directly to the Feds; that amount comes off your Social Security check. For reference, my current individual health insurance plan costs me $168.94 a month with a $5,000 deductible.

It’s good to know that Seattle liberals have taken care of themselves even as they try to sicc ObamaCare on the rest of us. The nomenclatura always takes care of its own.

It will need to, because the Ryan Budget Plan, now available at usgovernmentspending.com, is going to take chunk out of liberal programs. Compared to the president’s budget, Ryan proposes to spend $1 trillion less per year by 2021. Here’s a chart of it all:

That one trillion dollars doesn’t look like much on the chart, but if features $244 billion less in interest, $225 billion less in “other mandatory” programs, $233 billion from ObamaCare repeal, and $140 billion from Medicaid reform. And that is all before 2022, the year of the end of Medicare as we know it.

Here is the great question in our national politics. If we chop a trillion a year off federal spending will it hurt or help the most vulnerable? Is the problem too few government programs or too many government programs? Conservatives say that the problem is that government handouts encourage and foster social pathologies. Liberals say that social problems are caused by outsourcing, by corporate power, by budget cuts, and by general conservative meanness.

But this great issue will not be decided on its merits. More likely, it will turn on minor questions. Perhaps Americans will cut the welfare state in a fit of pique about liberal double standards. You know the sort of thing: How liberals enjoy tenure and state-guaranteed pensions while ordinary people watch their 401(k) accounts get ravaged by financial crisis and inflation, or how liberals dealt themselves a cozy deal on Medicare Advantage in Washington State.

But now liberal President Obama is going to present his own spending reduction plan. A liberal proposing spending cuts? That really would be the end of America as we know it.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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presented by Christopher Chantrill

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