BY ED MORRISSEY via HOT AIR
I know that every campaign promise Barack Obama makes has an expiration date … but this is ridiculous. The confetti is barely off the floor at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina after Obama’s acceptance speech, and already we find out that he’s flip-flopped. Remember this part of the speech, in which he attacks the Paul Ryan plan to apply free-market reform and cost controls to Medicare?
And I will — I will never turn Medicare into a voucher.
No American should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies. They should retire with the care and the dignity they have earned. Yes, we will reform and strengthen Medicare for the long haul, but we’ll do it by reducing the cost of health care, not by asking seniors to pay thousands of dollars more. And we will keep the promise of Social Security by taking the responsible steps to strengthen it, not by turning it over to Wall Street.
Expiration date — the very next day:
In his convention speech in Charlotte, President Obama vowed to block the Republican Medicare reform plan because “no American should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies.”
But back in Washington, his Health and Human Services Department is launching a pilot program that would shift up to 2 million of the poorest and most-vulnerable seniors out of the federal Medicare program and into private health insurance plans overseen by the states.
The administration has accepted applications from 18 states to participate in the program, which would give states money to purchase managed-care plans for people who are either disabled or poor enough to qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. HHS approved the first state plan, one for Massachusetts, last month.
Bear in mind that Ryan’s plan made the vouchers optional; seniors could choose the traditional government-run Medicare plan or opt for a private insurance plan from a federal exchange of approved insurers. Ryan also allows all seniors to choose, and didn’t force the poorest seniors to take the voucher option. Not only will Obama push just the poorest seniors into this plan, in some states they’d have to know to opt back in to traditional Medicare:
California is already counting on more than $500 million in budget savings from its own program this year. Most states are proposing to automatically enroll people. Those who don’t want to participate would need to opt out. The Massachusetts plan includes that feature.
Talk about leaving seniors — the poorest seniors! — “at the mercy of insurance companies.” And why has HHS decided to roll out this pilot program?