Repeal Cuts Medicare

Republican candidates ran against the Affordable Care Act last fall largely by alleging that it cuts Medicare benefits. Now in their first week in office, the House GOP is determined to vote to repeal it. But repeal means Medicare cuts:

The 76-year-old has schooled herself on the doughnut hole but notes that many seniors are “part of an age group that will not advertise (to loved ones) how anxious they may be feeling” about paying thousands of dollars out of pocket. But starting in 2011, seniors like Lansing can get a 50% discount on covered brand-name drugs if they are in the doughnut hole. Additional discounts on brand-name and generic drugs will be phased in to completely close the hole by 2020.

Also in 2011, Medicare will cover certain preventive services without charging you Medicare Part B (coverage for doctors’ services, outpatient care, home health services) coinsurance or deductible. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that as many as 25 percent of those on Medicare may be going without prescriptions, at some point, because of the doughnut hole’s sudden out-of-pocket costs.

These are benefits that exist, starting this month. Seniors probably won’t be sufficiently accustomed to them to be outraged by House Republicans trying to take them away this week. But 18 months from now, the ACA won’t have been repealed, seniors will be used to the new Medicare benefits, and repealers will have gone on record as having voted to take the benefits away. Bold political votes in favor of important legislation that stands a chance of passing is a political virtue. But casting risky votes as part of what amounts to a team-building morale exercise is kind of foolish.