The Newnan Times-Herald


Reforming Medicare

  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Nov. 02, 2017 - 11:00 PM

“Seniors spent their working years contributing to Medicare and should be assured that their benefits will be there when they need them… In order to keep these promises, the Medicare system must be reformed to meet the needs and realities of the 21st Century.”– Rep. Drew Ferguson, 10-3-17.

Back in May, there was an excellent opinion piece in The Times-Herald from Fred Rovner.

He apparently had received a similar vague response to his query about where our representative stands on Medicare, prompting him to write the piece. It is no coincidence that the responses that both of us received were Washington double talk. What happened to “draining the swamp”?

Ferguson’s last ambiguous quote sounds great on the surface. Sure, let’s reform Medicare. But, what does Ferguson really mean?

Here is a hint. In Ferguson speak, reform of domestic programs means cutting benefits.

In this case, he wants to: a.) raise the retirement and Medicare eligibility age for your children and grandchildren; b.) privatize the program using vouchers – and ultimately forcing retirees into Obamacare-type narrow provider networks due to affordability. Why do I think that this is his position when I can find no specific quotes at all from him on the matter?

Ferguson is not transparent and will not address the issue directly, like he pledged to do on all issues when campaigning. Therefore, we have to look at his prior record. He was and is a big supporter of Trumpcare, designed by the now-disgraced Tom Price and Speaker Ryan.

Price and Ryan both strongly believe in Medicare vouchers, which will push people into private insurance plans that have specified provider networks – PPOs or HMOs. Oddly, this is exactly what both criticized Obamacare for doing – i.e. you lose your doctor.

From a budgetary standpoint, this framework enables the federal government to pass future premium increases onto seniors rather than the federal government. In other words, if you start with a fixed amount of money, you divide it by the number of recipients and that is what each one gets monthly.

If the premium is higher than that voucher amount, the senior pays the difference out of his pocket. In the insurance business, this practice is referred to as “cost-shifting.” To you and me, the Ryan and Price policy can be defined as passing the buck.

After Rovner’s opinion piece, Ferguson could have come out and clarified his position. Of course, if I wanted to raise the age of Social Security and Medicare eligibility, I would not be anxious for clarity either. If I campaigned against Obamacare because it will cause you to lose your doctor, I would not want to discuss a voucher plan which will ultimately do the same thing.

Jack Bernard of Fayette County, a retired corporate executive, was a two-term county commissioner and former county Republican Party chairman in Jasper County.