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FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR

The Medicare Crisis is Here

For years now, the American people have been treated to a single response from Democrat lawmakers and executives when it comes to reforming our bloated, foundering retirement programs: There Is No Crisis. That’s been the mantra of Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and many other Democrats since George W. Bush attempted to stave off the collapse of the taxpayer-funded retiree safety net – the crisis isn’t here yet, so it’s certainly no time to act!  Heaven forbid that action would be taken in advance, so as to avert an impending crisis; after all, we all know that the truly wise build their ark after the rains begin, rather than before.

The fact is, the crisis is here – particularly for Medicare, which is so far underwater it would take several United States’ to pay off just what is owed right now to those who have already paid into the system (and who are therefore owed benefits at some point).  As usual, though, the Democrats – who, as the owners of the Senate and the White House have the responsibility to act or to accept the justified blame for system collapse – are not only covering their ears and eyes and declaring that no crisis exists, but are attempting to demonize any who dare point out fiscal and medical reality while scaring seniors into voting Democrat lest they be thrown off cliffs by evil, murderous Republicans (yes, the same evil, murderous Republicans who “want you dead” so they can “make money off your corpse,” and whose “health care plan is [for people to] die quickly“).

Erick’s brief post on the Democrats’ Medicare (non-)plan captures the spirit of the situation well:

Given the Democrats’ latest ad campaign showing someone throwing grandma off a cliff as the Republican solution to Medicare, I think the Republicans need to respond in kind.

It is clear the Democrats have no plans other than to let Medicare go bankrupt.

I think the Republicans should show a grandmother lying in bed with her son coming home with an oversized prescription bottle that has a pillow in it. “Grandma,” he says, “it say to place this over your head.”

That amounts to the Democrats solution to healthcare. Instead of saving Medicare, they are happy to let senior citizens’ coverage deteriorate to bankruptcy so they canter again impose radical socialist solutions as a fix.

Not sure that the Medicare crisis is really here? Let’s run through a few numbers.

At its inception in 1966, Medicare carried an annual price tag of $3,000,000,000.00. Its Congressional founders predicted that cost would rise to $12,000,000,000.00 a year by 1990 — a figure that accounted for inflation, and therefore was expected to be an accurate representation of costs at that point.

Thanks to the inefficiency of the government-run program, that estimate missed the mark by orders of magnitude. In 1990, rather than costing American taxpayers $12,000,000,000.00, Medicare cost $107,000,000,000.00 — an increase of 800% over the government’s best guess at the program’s cost 23 years before.

That cost has increased exponentially as the years have passed since 1990. In 2009, $484,000,000,000.00 was spent on mandatory Medicare outlays; by 2018, that number will be $885,100,000,000.00, according to the Congressional Budget Office. According to the 2011 Trustees report, the total amount owed Medicare beneficiaries (American workers who are at least 22 years old and who have paid into the system, meaning they are due Medicare coverage upon retirement) is $24,600,000,000,000 (down from a projected $32,300,000,000,000 two years ago, in part due to phantom savings claimed under Obamacare) — an amount nearly twice America’s GDP, and nearly five times the publicized national debt.

Those are the numbers: our nation’s health care program for seniors is currently twenty-five trillion dollars in the hole.  In other words, unless we find a couple more American economies between the couch cushions that we can dedicate solely to paying Medicare costs, the program will utterly collapse under its own weight, resulting in nobody receiving the health care they need – an outcome that all should be able to agree is unacceptable, for a variety of reasons.

The U.S. is currently surging toward fiscal default, while our most basic service programs are being crushed under the weight of debts that are far larger than our entire economy – and Democrats are responding to this crisis by sitting on their hands, rather than grabbing a bucket (let alone manning a pump) to help bail our rapidly foundering ship of state.

Further, the fact that Congress has refused to do away with a law requiring seniors to enroll in Medicare or forfeit their Social Security benefits for fear of losing a massive number of seniors to private health coverage serves to reinforce the undesirability of the government-run program.

It also demonstrates the federal government’s willingness, when given the opportunity, to force citizens onto the rolls of government care by denying them the opportunity to choose their coverage.  For Exhibit A of why that’s a bad thing, glance upward two paragraphs and look once again at those numbers. That should be all the fiscal evidence you need to understand why the government running health care is an unacceptable situation.

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