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A Disguised Tax? JEC Report: Health Care Costs Projected To Double for Elderly

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PAUL RYAN
AP

At a roundtable discussion on Friday in Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) unveiled a new JEC report; "The Republican Medicare Plan: Health Care Expenditures Would Double for Elderly in Every State". According to this joint economic committee report, Medicare costs of elderly recipients are projected to more than double by 2022.

According to Senator Casey's press release:

The JEC report found that under the proposed Republican plan, out-of-pocket costs for health care will skyrocket from $6,100 to $12,403 for Pennsylvania Medicare beneficiaries when the plan takes effect in 2022. Current beneficiaries would not be immune to the change -- prescription drug costs would rise and preventive services would be cut in the near term.

The report makes clear that costs are being transferred from the government directly to the elderly. When asked if the increased costs could be called a tax increase, Senator Casey replied that some may phrase it that way.

I am more than willing to call this legislation a tax on the elderly. A large tax, too, literally doubling average health care costs for seniors to over $1,000 a month. In addition to this hidden tax, the 'donut hole' in Medicare part D prescription coverage now being closed under the new Health care law is reopened causing even higher out of pocket expenses for our elderly. Seniors may be forced literally to revert to forgoing vital drugs because of cost.

Senator Casey, who I know and strongly support, is passionate and knowledgeable about health care issues. Casey's concern was visible when he pointed out that the Republican Medicare legislation does nothing to reduce the deficit or to lower health care costs. Indeed, according to the report:

Not only does the Republican plan shift costs to older Americans, but it will bend the health care cost curve in the wrong direction. Overall health care spending rises under the Republican proposal since private health insurance plans are less effective than Medicare at controlling spending.

No stranger to spending cuts, Senator Casey calls for serious proposals that may lead to solid legislation rather than extreme bills like the Republican Medicare plan that is described as dead in the water. Echoing many complaints from health care providers, Senator Casey commented that more and more often, insurance companies are coming between doctors and their patients and the Republican plan aggravates the trend.

Medicare legislation passed to increase health care coverage for senior citizens, many of whom were unable to afford or to obtain coverage at any price. According to the JEC report, in 1965 only half of citizens 65 years of age or older possessed health care coverage while today, the vast majority of these Americans are Medicare beneficiaries. The program is wildly successful and popular. The Republican plan starts to seriously dismantle this success.

The Republican Medicare Plan tells those who literally built our nation, taught our young and fought our wars, all while paying taxes and raising families, that the nation has higher priorities than health care for our elderly. This Republican Medicare plan exposes the lie that Republican priorities are the deficit and smaller government. No wonder even Republicans are saying that their Medicare plan was a 'mistake'. "Caught' may be a better word choice.