Holding on to grandma

Published 4:28 pm Friday, May 27, 2011

The rhetoric about the current Medicare debate is that grandma is getting all the blame.

The horror stories have returned, as both Democrats and Republicans attempt to scare the devil out of us.

Remember the death panels a few years ago when opponents of the Obama health care reform assured us that death squads would determine if grandma lived or died? Now, we have all come to our senses and realize it was pure political fabrication and scare tactics.

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The latest scenario is not killing grandma through death panel squads, but now we are going to “throw her off the cliff.”

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chair of the House Budget Committee, presented his plan for Medicare overhaul this week, roundly accepted by the Republican House, then roundly defeated by the Senate.

It was so controversial, that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he would not push fellow Republicans to vote for it. And five didn’t. Even Republicans thought it was too drastic.

I have thought all along that we should not tinker with the nation’s health plans. Millions of people cannot afford health insurance, and millions more cannot afford catastrophic doctor and hospital bills, so a health care plan has to fill the gap.

Ryan’s plan would place the health care program into a voucher system. Sounds good except the non-partisan budget office predicted it would increase two to three times the costs of health care for individual persons. In addition, Ryan’s plan would cut funds to states that need the money to finance their own health plans.

Sounds like we are pushing more than grandma off the cliff.

This new debate could get interesting.

In Rep. Ryan’s home district, an announced Democratic candidate opponent has opened a website with the headline: “Keep Your Hands Off My Grandma.”

Apparently here’s what’s happening. Polls are now showing that if you want to get elected or re-elected, keep your hands off grandma. Folks now are saying leave Obamacare alone. Keep the status-quo. They don’t want costly vouchers. Balance the budget, but don’t use Medicare to do it.

This week in a conservative Republican stronghold, a Democrat was elected to a House seat after she pounced on the Ryan plan. The senior citizen Republican voters voted Democratic.

Republicans are now thinking they might need another issue for the 2012 elections. And, the way things are going, they may need some more names in the hat for a Republican presidential candidate.

The leading Republican presidential candidate for now, Mitt Romney, was governor of Massachusetts when his state adopted its Medicare plan, which he supported, which became the basis for Obamacare. Romney now tries to disavow himself from it, even though folks in Massachusetts say the plan is working just fine. All grandmas are safe.

In our family, all the grandmas and grandpas have left the building. Our hope, as current grandma and grandpa, is that we can stay healthy to watch our grandchildren grow. We do have our health plans and our Medicare, and it’s working just fine.

We need to tell the politicians to keep their hands off Medicare, Social Security and anything else that makes our lives easier. Getting old is hell. Nobody should have to go through it. We should not balance the nation’s budget on the backs of the poor.

But we are trying to do just that.

Self-serving politicians need to keep their hands off the nation’s health care. Find something else to screw up. We don’t need their grandstanding for personal political purposes. We need legislators who care for the people and legislate for the public good. We need people in government who have the moral courage to do what is right.

It’s been a long time since any statesman has stood up and said, “Enough. Let’s stop the rhetoric and bombast, and let’s govern for what’s best for the people.”

Yep. That’s what they should do. But don’t count on it.