It’s long been clear that Mitt Romney’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program would have devastating consequences. Romney and Paul Ryan like to claim that seniors would always have the choice of enrolling in traditional Medicare—but a new study demonstrates just how hollow that claim is.
The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation released a report showing that if Romney’s plan had been in place this year for today’s seniors, nearly 60% would have had to pay more to get the same coverage that they enjoy today. Certain parts of the country would be especially hard hit—a senior in Miami, Florida would have to pay an extra $5,904 a year for traditional Medicare. If she didn’t pay those extra costs, she would be forced into a new private plan that limited her choice of doctor. Strict network restrictions could put barriers between seniors and physicians, or make it difficult to access expert care when people need it.
That means that under Romney’s plan, millions of people—especially those with complicated health needs who see a lot of different doctors—would have to give up their doctors or pay extra to maintain access to their choices.
Even worse, this study is just examining the impact of their plan in a single year. It ignores the role of adverse selection against traditional Medicare—which would drive costs higher and force more people to give up their choice of doctor. It also doesn’t factor in the impact of the cap Romney would place on the growth rate of the vouchers, which results in seniors paying thousands of dollars more every year regardless of which plan they choose. As another recent study confirmed, nationwide seniors that retired in 2030 would have to pay an average of $6,000 more a year—based on an analysis of Romney’s current proposal.
It’s clear: The Romney voucher plan is an irresponsible approach that undermines Medicare.