All the Republican Senate Hopefuls Support a Radical Budget Plan That Increases Costs and Ends the Guarantee of Medicare for Our Seniors

Today Americans celebrate the 47th anniversary of Medicare, a landmark program that provides health care coverage for our seniors, lifting millions out of poverty and helping our seniors live a healthy and secure retirement.

But how is former Bush Administration Secretary Tommy Thompson celebrating the anniversary of Medicare?

In a July 27 interview with Wisconsin Eye, Secretary Thompson reiterated his support for the Ryan budget plan, and acknowledged that Americans aged 55 or older would soon be faced with a choice between a Medicare program with drastically reduced guaranteed benefits and increased health care costs for seniors, or a privatized voucher system that ends the guarantee of Medicare as we know it.

Even as 47.6 million seniors and disabled Americans, including more than 918,000 Wisconsinites, receive Medicare coverage, Secretary Thompson and his fellow Wisconsin Republicans are supporting Paul Ryan’s radical budget plan that ends Medicare as we know it – a plan that would double out-of-pocket expenses for most beneficiaries and increase total health care spending for seniors by 32 percent, according to analysis by the non-partisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. [1]

The GOP voucher plan fails to keep pace with rising health care costs, shifting the burden to beneficiaries to pay as much as $6,000 more out-of-pocket for the same benefits they have now, even as health insurance companies reap big profits.

“On a day when we should be celebrating Medicare, one of the most significant and beneficial policy achievements of the past 50 years, we are instead fighting to protect it from Tommy Thompson and the Republicans who wish to end the guarantee of coverage for our seniors and hand the health care industry back to the big insurance companies who prioritize profits over people,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Monday. “The need for Medicare is just as great now as it was 47 years ago. That’s why Wisconsin must send Tammy Baldwin to the U.S. Senate to strengthen Medicare and its guarantee of coverage for our seniors.”

In the Bush Administration, Secretary Thompson helped work out a sweetheart deal with the big drug companies that made it illegal for the government to negotiate for better prices on prescription medications under Medicare, a deal that has cost taxpayers $150 billion dollars.

After serving in the Bush Administration, Thompson joined one of Washington's most influential law firms, as a million-dollar-a-year consultant, as they lobby on behalf of drug companies, insurance companies and the oil industry. He has been paid millions more in speaking fees and for sitting on a dozen corporate boards. Thompson now has a net worth of more than $13 million dollars.

[1] GOP voucher for Medicare would not keep pace with rising health care costs, increases out-of-pocket expenses. In 2022, total health care spending for seniors "would rise from $14,750 under the Medicare program as it operates today to $20,500 — an increase of 32 percent.  This beneficiary’s out-of-pocket costs would more than double — from about $6,000 a year to over $12,000."  [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/2011]