Viewpoints: Romney needs to explain his Medicare plan; Ryan plan would end Medicaid protections for spouses of nursing home patients'

The New York Times' Taking Note: Medicare Confusion
Mr. Ryan's Path To Prosperity blueprint includes more than $700 billion in Medicare cuts over the next decade. Medicare would no longer function as an insurance program that directly pays medical bills for seniors. Instead, seniors would receive a fixed subsidy. The value of that subsidy almost certainly wouldn't keep up with health care costs, meaning seniors would pay more out of pocket. That might not play well in Boca Raton. Of course, Mr. Ryan's just the prospective V.P. What does the top of the ticket think? (Juliet Lapidos, 8/14).

The Hill: Romney-Ryan Plan Would Repeal Reagan's Spousal Safety Net
One of President Ronald Reagan's important achievements, protecting spouses from impoverishment under Medicaid, would be gutted under the plans of Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). ... If a nursing home patient exhausts his or her own Medicare coverage and all of his or her personal resources, which happens to most Americans after a year or so in a nursing home, Medicaid will then cover the cost of the care. ... President Reagan signed legislation that forced states to grant Medicaid coverage based on the financial condition of the patient and allowed the spouses of patients to protect enough assets and income to live with some degree of comfort and dignity (Scott Lilly, 8/14).

The Fiscal Times:  Fact Check:  Dems Lie About Ryan's Medicare Plan
Democrats have either decided that lying to the American public is perfectly OK, or they haven't done their homework. I'm not sure which is worse. Since the announcement that Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan was Mitt Romney's VP choice, Democrats from campaign manager Jim Messina to former Governor Howard Dean have flooded the airwaves decrying Ryan's proposals to reform Medicare. That's perfectly acceptable--Ryan's plan is fair game--except when the Dems lie about it, or, at best, ignorantly get the story wrong. Is that what we have come to (Liz Peek, 8/14)?

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Romney Would Cut Medicaid AND Never Cut Medicare
So … which is it? Does spending on Medicare need to be cut, or not? Romney cannot credibly campaign as the candidate willing to make the hard decisions about spending on entitlements while simultaneously ruling out hard decisions about spending on entitlements. I know that the man is a master of being on all sides of an issue, but this is ridiculous (Jay Bookman, 8/14).

Los Angeles Times: Paul Ryan's Budget Proposal Would Spread Pain Widely
Ryan contends that shifting the delivery of care from the Medicare bureaucracy to private insurers will wipe out waste. Everyone who has contact with Medicare, his plan states, "has stories about waste in the system -; unnecessary tests, redundant treatments, and the cost ... of mistaken billings and misplaced records." Now, I've never come directly in contact with Medicare, but I've experienced all those things -; at the hands of the private insurers Ryan thinks have the magic answer to rising medical costs (Michael Hiltzik, 8/15).

The Washington Post: Feeling Ill Over The Medicare Debates
The cheeky response to the critique of Obama's Medicare cuts is that Ryan assumes those very cuts in his budget -; the one passed by the House and endorsed as "marvelous" by Romney. So there are robbers galore and blood to spread around. The slightly less cheeky response is to say: Aren't these the people who have been screaming about Medicare bankrupting the country? Shouldn't they be praising cuts, not denouncing them? (Ruth Marcus, 8/14).

The Washington Post: Paul Ryan: Cruel, Not Courageous
Under Ryan's plan, the wealthiest 1 percent would get a massive tax break. Meanwhile, Medicare would be privatized, leaving seniors with vouchers that could never keep up with rising health-care costs. It would slash programs helping struggling families stay afloat, such as food stamps and housing assistance, by nearly a trillion dollars over the next decade. Education and employment training -; vital to our nation's future -; would be cut by a third. ... And since gutting Medicaid and Medicare isn't enough, he would also repeal the president's health-care law, leaving tens of millions of people uninsured (Katrina vanden Heuvel, 8/14).

The Dallas Morning News: Seeing Through the Medicare Spin
Pretending the problem doesn't exist obviously doesn't make it go away. And both sides know it. So here's a bit of unspinning: The Democrats' plan does reduce future growth in Medicare spending by about $700 billion to help fund other parts of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare…. The Ryan plan, as revealed in his two latest House-passed budgets, effectively accepts the Obamacare cuts…. Romney, the actual presidential candidate, throws a wrinkle by insisting that his Medicare plan is not precisely Ryan's (8/14).

CNN:  Does Ryan Medicare Plan Make Sense?
We've all heard that Paul Ryan is Gov. Mitt Romney's running mate. But many still don't know the details of his proposals for health care reform. They offer a stark contrast to what the Obama administration would like to do (Dr. Aaron Carroll, 8/14).

And on other subjects --

The Wall Street Journal: Why The Doctor Can't See You
Are you having trouble finding a doctor who will see you? If not, give it another year and a half. A doctor shortage is on its way. Most provisions of the Obama health law kick in on Jan. 1, 2014. Within the decade after that, an additional 30 million people are expected to acquire health plans-;and if the economic studies are correct, they will try to double their use of the health-care system. ... The health-care system can't possibly deliver on the huge increase in demand for primary-care services (John C. Goodman, 8/14).

The Houston Chronicle: Sorting Out Options On Breast Cancer Screening
While the controversy over screening continues and given that there is no agreement on the right age to begin getting mammograms, it is important for women to discuss with their physicians the risks and benefits associated with screening. The decision should be based in large part on patient preferences, risk factors, age and overall health -- not blanket screening recommendations (Mariana Chavez MacGregor and Sharon H. Giordano, 8/14).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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