Threats to Medicare from the Next Administration

If Trump cuts Medicare with Paul Ryan, it will anger a lot of people. More than that, privatizing and cutting Medicare as proposed by corporatist Republicans is horrible, damaging policy.

Donald Trump told Americans that he would protect Medicare, promising to oppose cuts to benefits over and over again on the campaign trail.

“People have been paying in for years. They’re gonna cut Social Security. They’re gonna cut Medicare. They’re gonna cut Medicaid,” he told Fox News in April 2015, referring to the other candidates in the GOP presidential primary. “I’m the one saying that’s saying I’m not gonna do that!”

But his nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services is a strong supporter of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to raise the Medicare eligibility age and partially privatize the program  indicating either that Trump is walking back his campaign pledge or that there will soon be a conflict between Trump’s cabinet and his own stated views on the issue.

A little more than a week after the election, Trump’s pick for HHS secretary, Georgia Republican Congressman Tom Price, who now helms the House Budget Committee, told the press that he expected the House to push for Medicare privatization “within the first six to eight months” of the Trump administration  possibly by using the budget reconciliation process, which would allow the Senate to pass such a plan with a simple majority that could not be filibustered.

Two days after the election, Ryan had appeared on Fox News to urge changes to Medicare. “What people don’t realize is because of Obamacare, Medicare is going broke. Medicare is going to have price controls. Because of Obamacare, Medicaid is in fiscal straits,” Ryan said. “So you have to deal with those issues if you’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare. Medicare has got some serious problems because of Obamacare. So those things are part of our plan to replace Obamacare.”

The article did not mention it, but Paul Ryan’s statement on Medicare “going broke,” is a clear lie.

The explanations: no, it’s not going broke. As of now, the trust fund can maintain everyone who needs it until 2028. After that, without intervention, it would start paying out less benefits. Not “no” benefits. Reduced. That’s if there isn’t an intervention of some kind to further cut costs, enroll younger, healthier people, increase payroll taxes, or any other of good policy options for keeping it going.

One of those policy options? Keeping Obamacare. Because Obamacare isn’t making it go broke. Not at all. In fact, Obamacare has saved Medicare money, and extended the program’s solvency by twelve years. It did increase payroll taxes on wages and self-employment income of wealthy Americans—above $250,000 per couple or $200,000 for a single taxpayer—by 0.9 percent. It also put in place a number of quality control measures that are working to keep costs down. Not to mention saving a lot of lives. No, what would make Medicare instantly face insolvency again is repealing Obamacare and all that stuff—like the increased payroll taxes—that are working to keep the program sound.