GOP should hold firm on Medicare

Freedom New Mexico

May was a lousy month for the Republican plan to overhaul Medicare. A prominent GOP candidate for president criticized it, a seat in Congress was lost because of it, and the party started trying to distance itself from the whole thing. That’s regrettable, because reinventing Medicare is vital to our nation’s economic health.

The reinvention plan was proposed by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. Critics say it would end Medicare as we know it.

That’s fine with us. Medicare as we know it is a sprawling government entitlement program for people 65 and older. It uses taxpayer money to pay for recipients’ doctor visits and medical services.

Under the GOP-endorsed Ryan plan, the government would subsidize older people’s purchase of health insurance from private insurers. If the subsidies don’t cover all the costs, seniors would have to pay the difference.

That could be a tough sell. It was too tough for presidential wannabe Newt Gingrich, who told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on May 15 the Ryan plan represents “radical change” and said, “I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering.”

Nine days later, Ryancare helped the GOP lose an election. A Democrat won a congressional seat in a New York state district that traditionally votes Republican. The fate of Medicare had been a hot-button issue in the campaign, and it was widely believed that seniors’ fears made the difference.

Seniors’ fears may have figured also in a recent Daily News poll. Sixty-nine percent of our online respondents said they oppose deep cuts in Medicare.

By late May, House Republicans were talking jobs, jobs, jobs — and trying hard to steer debate away from Rep. Ryan’s revamp.

Let’s hope Republicans find the steel to keep pounding away at Medicare, even if their cause appears unpopular. Without Rep. Ryan’s plan or something like it, Medicare spending is on track to double in the next decade, and the system very well could collapse and leave millions without any health benefits at all.