Better Care, Lower Cost Under Obama Medicare

Essay From Obama Supporter Jeff Brown

The Record ( — Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Written by
Jeff Brown

In 1965 at a bill signing, President Lyndon B. Johnson remarked: "Many men can draft many laws. But few have the piercing and humane eye which can see beyond the words to the people that they touch. Few can see past the speeches and the political battles to the doctor over there that is tending the infirm, and to the hospital that is receiving those in anguish, or feel in their heart painful wrath at the injustice which denies the miracle of healing to the old and to the poor."

The bill he was signing was Medicare. It was one of the greatest public policy accomplishments of the 20th century — true health security for our aging mothers and fathers. Currently there are 50 million people in the program.

But now that accomplishment is threatened.

On one hand there is President Barack Obama who, through the Affordable Care Act, has a proven record of protecting Medicare, extending its life and expanding benefits for seniors. By cutting $716 billion in waste and abuse, Obama was able to reinvest in Medicare, increase prescription drug coverage and expand free services.

To date, New Jersey seniors have saved $170 million on prescription drugs, and tens of thousands elderly New Jerseyans have received free preventative services like mammograms and yearly checkups, services that had costly copays before Obama signed the Affordable Care Act. Furthermore, under Obama, doctors are going to start being paid to keep people healthy rather than according to the number of patients they see.

On the other side, we have Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, two candidates who want to radically change Medicare, turning it into a voucher system where seniors would be given coupons and have to navigate the shaky waters of the private insurance system on their own. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said the Romney/Ryan plan would cost seniors $6,000 more per year. More recently, a Kaiser Family Foundation study showed that six in 10 seniors nationwide, and nine in 10 in New Jersey, would face higher costs under Romney/Ryan.

The differences in the plans are stark: Obama found savings in Medicare and reinvested the money to preserve the program for future generations. Romney and Ryan want to hand Medicare over to the same insurance companies who, before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, routinely denied coverage to sick children.

Jeff Brown is the policy and communications coordinator for New Jersey Citizen Action.

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