Vail Valley Voices: Ryan would take an ax to health care | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley Voices: Ryan would take an ax to health care

Henry Bornstein
Vail, CO, Colorado

If Mitt Romney is elected is president, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s budget will destroy health care as we know it.

If you are a woman, a minority, poor, sick, elderly, economically in the middle or lower class, young, a student who needs some government assistance to attend a college, through no fault of your own lost your job, not super-rich, or you believe that no one should force their religious beliefs on you, etc., by passing laws that deny you your freedoms under our Constitution, especially those rights contained in the First Amendment, you are in big trouble.

Romney and Ryan’s Constitution is not the same Constitution that was written by our founders. Thus, if elected, their Constitution will be used to deny us our rights and beliefs and force their dogma upon each of us.

Here are but a few examples:

Women’s health clinics across the country rely on federal funding for family planning. Almost all of that money comes from two sources: Medicaid, the joint federal-state health care program for low-income people, pregnant women, and infants; and the decades-old program known as Title X.

Romney and Ryan would gut both programs on the federal level, all but ensuring that clinics in blue states have to close, too. “What has (been) done in Texas, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would do in all 50 states if elected,” says Dawn Laguens, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Action Fund (Mother Jones, Aug. 17).

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In 2010, clinics funded by Title X performed more than 6 million sexually transmitted-disease tests. Planned Parenthood alone provides care to about one-third of Title X patients.

Last year, Ryan supported a bill that would have amended Title X to prohibit grants from being awarded to groups like Planned Parenthood that provide abortions, according to Mother Jones. (Such groups are already forbidden from spending federal money on these procedures.)

In an effort to reduce government spending, Romney stated in an commentary in USA Today, Nov. 3, 2011: “Enact deep reductions in the subsidies for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Legal Services Corporation. Eliminate Title X family planning programs benefiting abortion groups like Planned Parenthood.”

Planned Parenthood has been in existence for 90 years and has helped millions of women with health issues that they could not afford but for Planned Parenthood.

In a speech Romney gave in Kirkwood, Mo., he stated: “Planned Parenthood, we’re going to get rid of that.”

Mother Jones, Aug. 14: “Women’s groups have already honed in on Ryan’s extreme anti-abortion record, which consistently has earned him a 100 percent voting approval rating from the National Right to Life Committee. What isn’t so well known about Ryan’s record, though, is that one piece of legislation he supported is so extreme that it would have turned Romney’s children into criminals. The Sanctity of Human Life Act, which Ryan co-sponsored, would have enshrined the notion that life begins at fertilization in federal law, thus criminalizing in vitro fertilization – the process of creating an embryo outside of a woman’s womb.”

New York Times, May 4: “Two New Grandchildren for Romney, With Help of Surrogate. Mitt Romney’s oldest son, Tagg, on Friday announced the birth of twin sons with the help of a surrogate. The newest members of the Romney clan, David Mitt and William Ryder, make Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, grandparents of 18.”

Mother Jones, Aug. 14: “While Romney’s running mate has advocated criminalizing a procedure that has brought untold joy to about 3 million families over the past three decades, Democrats might be able to claim credit for making advanced infertility treatments available to the vast majority of Americans who can’t afford them. Currently, most health insurance plans don’t cover infertility treatment, so IVF and other advanced baby-making technology is mostly available to rich people – like the Romney boys.”

Is this not the height of hypocrisy?

Mother Jones, Aug. 14: “One estimate puts the cost of Tagg Romney’s new twins at more than $60,000, a price tag that puts IVF (and surrogate moms) totally out of reach for the average infertile couple. But Obamacare could change all that. The Department of Health and Human Services is currently drafting what’s known as the Essential Health Benefits Plan, a collection of conditions and other medical care that many insurance companies will be required to cover. There’s currently a push to have infertility treatments included as an essential benefit.”

Does anyone have any doubt that the majority of Republicans in Congress will oppose this addition?

The Ryan budget curbs Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program spending “not by finding efficiencies but by slashing benefits, cutting payments to providers, and reducing access to the program,” according to a Mother Jones article on Aug. 12. “According to an Urban Institute study commissioned by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the number of people eligible for the federal health care program could be cut by more than 50 percent.”

Mother Jones, Aug. 12: “Political pundits have already expended gallons of ink pondering the impact of the Ryan pick in states with high numbers of senior citizens, like Florida, Iowa, and Pennsylvania. But the Ryan budget (changed from his original budget) leaves today’s elderly voters mostly unscathed; it’s everyone else who gets the axe. The Congressional Budget Office calculated that under the 2011 Ryan plan, the government’s contribution to health care would not keep up with the increase in health costs and increases in insurance prices. That means seniors would be responsible for almost twice as much of the tab.”

I suppose that if his budget does not affect you, who cares? I would like to think that most of us would care and find that Ryan’s attempt to get rid of Medicare entirely in the future and then make our children purchase their health insurance from private carriers is completely wrong and offensive.

Here are just a few areas where the Ryan budget will harm, if not destroy government assistance to children, the elderly who are on Medicare, and to many other persons who are currently in need.

Here are some highlights of a report prepared by the Congressional Budget Office at Ryan’s request in an analysis of the report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

• “Ryan’s budget would eliminate most of the government’s discretionary spending to enable his tax cuts for the rich. … The rest of government would largely have to disappear. That includes everything from veterans programs to medical and scientific research, highways, education, nearly all programs for low-income families and individuals other than Medicaid, national parks, border patrols, protection of food safety and the water supply, law enforcement, and the like.”

• “Total federal spending – including Social Security, interest, and health care – would fall to 16 percent of GDP by 2050 under Ryan’s budget path, a target specifically included in the Ryan budget resolution. This would be the lowest level since 1950, when Medicare, Medicaid, most federal funding for education, highways, and environmental protection, and various other significant federal activities did not exist.”

• “Ryan plan would also replace Medicare’s guarantee of health coverage with premium-support payments to seniors (starting with new beneficiaries in 2023) that they would use to buy coverage from private insurance companies or traditional Medicare. … CBO thus projects that under the Ryan budget, federal Medicare expenditures on behalf of an average 67-year-old beneficiary would, by 2050, be 35 percent to 42 percent lower than under current law.”

• “The CBO analysis states that the Ryan plan would raise the age at which people become eligible for Medicare from 65 to 67, even as it repeals the health reform law’s coverage provisions. This means 65- and 66-year-olds would have neither Medicare nor access to health insurance exchanges in which they could buy coverage at an affordable price. … This change would put many more 65- and 66-year-olds who don’t have employer coverage into the individual insurance market, where the premiums charged to people in this age group tend to be extremely high – thereby leaving many of them uninsured. People of limited means would be affected most harshly because they would not be able to afford private coverage. In addition, many 65- and 66-year-olds with a pre-existing medical condition would not be able to purchase coverage at any price.”

If anything stated above is incorrect, please provide any contradictory facts from any credible and verifiable source.

Henry Bornstein is a retired attorney who handled constitutional cases and studies the Constitution from a historical as well as legal perspective.