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‘Clear choice’ for Congress

October 24, 2012


"We're not going to go back to the days when our citizens spent their golden years at the mercy of private insurance companies." - President Barack Obama.

This is what the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan plan has in mind for our health care in retirement, all cost increases will be shifted to us.

This plan will let insurance companies write the rules and will result in millions of seniors being at the mercy of insurance companies that can, and as history tells us, decide what benefits to offer, how much to charge you for premiums and make it harder for seniors to choose their doctors.

While some are trying to convince voters that Obamacare is cutting $716 million from Medicare services to seniors, that's just not true. The $716 million is mostly used to roll back the Medicare Advantage programs, a subsidy for big insurance companies that has proven more expensive than traditional Medicare.

Decades ago, the insurance companies came to the government and said they could manage Medicare better, at 92 percent; now, insurance companies receive 14 percent more than the premium seniors pay each month. Rolling back this subsidy will actually reduce overhead and focus more money back into caring for seniors, instead of CEO's pockets. The Romney-Ryan plan also includes a $716 million cut, but puts that all back into giving millionaires and billionaires tax breaks.

Also, because of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare Advantage plans are prohibited from charging higher co-pays than traditional Medicare for all services, requires Medicare Advantage plans to use at least 85 cents of every dollar on patient care (traditional Medicare spends 98 cents of every dollar on patient care); and, provides financial bonuses to Medicare Advantage plans based on quality ratings.

The Romney-Ryan budget rolls back all the progress that has been made on keeping down the costs of Medicare through the Affordable Care Act, by increasing seniors' out-of-pocket costs, including preventive care, and cutting back on seniors' prescription drug benefits.

The choice is clear. On the broad issues defining this election, only one candidate stands for protecting Medicare for you today and for your children tomorrow. This Congressional candidate is Nate Shinagawa.

Natalie Luczkowiak is a Dunkirk resident and Community Health Advocate of the Public Policy and Education Fund.



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