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Can Senior Citizens Afford Lee Terrynomics?

Recently, Representative Lee Terry took a swipe at his challenger John Ewing - contending that we "can't afford Ewingnomics." In this instance, Lee Terry was taking issue with Ewing's position that the failed Bush tax cuts for the top 2% of income earners should be rolled back. (Ewing favors retaining the Bush tax cuts for 98% of income earners.) That was obviously a swing and a miss by Mr. Terry. But what about Terrynomics? Can senior citizens afford Terrynomics?

The answer to that question is clearly no because Terry supports the Paul Ryan Medicare privatization plan. Mr. Terry voted for the Ryan plan in both 2011 and 2012. The Terry-Ryan plan would end Medicare's guaranteed benefit, bring back pre-existing conditions clauses and cost the average senior citizen an additional $6,000 in annual out of pocket medical expenses. A recent study by the Center For American Progress found that the Terry-Ryan plan could increase costs by almost $60,000 for seniors reaching the age of 65 in 2023.

But wait. Aren't those over the age of 55 not affected by the Ryan plan? We've heard that from Mr. Terry when he tried to explain his two votes for this regressive legislation that ends Medicare as we know it. That talking point is false because the Terry-Ryan plan will abolish the health care reform law passed in 2010. That will have a direct impact on today's seniors because it brings back the "doughnut hole," which requires seniors to pay 100 percent of any prescription costs after the annual total reaches $2,840 and until it hits $4,550. This change would cost Nebraska seniors around $16 million in 2012 alone.

If Lee Terry were to get his way and the Terry-Ryan plan became law, Nebraska seniors would also lose access to a host of preventive-care benefits in the health care law, including free wellness visits to physicians, mammograms, colonoscopies, and programs to help smokers quit. So, the next time Lee Terry tells you that his Medicare privatization plan doesn't affect today's seniors, please tell him to do a little fact checking before he makes that claim again.

Terry's phony claim that Medicare wouldn't impact current seniors isn't the only bogus thing Mr. Terry has said about Medicare. Terry claimed that Ewing supported a $716 billion "raid" on Medicare that slashed payments to doctors and other providers to pay for the law.

These so-called "cuts" in Medicare that Terry described are largely cuts in the Medicare Advantage Program - which was a boondoggle for the private insurance industry. Mr. Terry also didn't tell us that those same Medicare "cuts" are contained in the Terry-Ryan plan.

What about John Ewing? Does he support senior citizens? The answer is yes. Ewing has promised us that he would oppose Medicare privatization and that he would keep our promises to senior citizens.

On August 27, Ewing introduced a three point plan that would save Medicare. Ewing said one part of his plan would allow the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary to negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare Part D, the prescription drug plan. That is not permitted under current law. The change, he said, could save up to $24 billion annually. The other parts of Ewing's plan would strengthen Medicare's fiances by ending overpayments to health insurance companies and cracking down on Medicare fraud.

I believe the answer is clear. Senior citizens can't afford Lee Terrynomics. Re-electing Mr. Terry to the U.S. House of Representatives could potentially cost seniors thousands of dollars.

John Ewing is the genuine friend of senior citizens since he is opposed to Medicare privatization and supports a plan that shores up Medicare's finances. I would submit that the senior citizens of the 2nd Congressional District can't afford not to elect John Ewing to Congress!

Dennis Crawford is our newly elected 2nd Associate Chair. He will begin serving his term on the NDP's executive board at the first State Central Committee meeting following November's election. Thank you to Dennis for his contribution to the NDP's blog.


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