Back in August, I endorsed Lee Anderson. I knew Lee had his heart in the right place, and he truly wants to represent us. As a fellow Republican, we share the same beliefs. Yet he has been taken to task for some of those beliefs in a series of clever commercials by his opponent, Democratic Rep. John Barrow. The record must be set straight.
To hear Rep. Barrow’s commercials, a voter might think that Lee is trying to take Medicare away from our senior citizens. In reality, Lee has endorsed vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity budget. Further, PolitiFact rated this charge by Rep. Barrow and other Washington Democrats the “Lie of the Year.”
IF REP. RYAN’S plan were enacted into law, any changes to the Medicare system would be delayed until 10 years after passage, and would not affect anyone older than age 55. Rep. Ryan and the House Budget Committee Republicans believe – rightly so – that we should have a transition period from traditional Medicare into a system that provides premium support to seniors.
The Ryan plan will allow seniors to choose private health insurance with the government, through Medicare, subsidizing the premiums. In addition, Medicare will provide increased assistance for lower-income individuals and those with greater health risks. Allowing the free market to control the plans and giving seniors more decision-making power over their health care is expected to slow the federal government’s Medicare expenditures.
The most surprising thing about Rep. Barrow’s assertion that Lee was trying to get rid of Medicare is that the Ryan budget changes Medicare to function exactly the way the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program currently works for 8 million federal employees, including Rep. Barrow! I have never once seen him complain about his health insurance. Further, he knows the Ryan plan will work because it currently works for every federal employee in America.
LEE OUGHT TO be congratulated for endorsing the Ryan plan, because Medicare in its current form faces a stark reality: Without major changes, the program will become insolvent in the year 2024, according to the Medicare Trustees 2012 Annual Report to Congress. It’s not as though Americans are ignorant of this fact. A study earlier this year from AARP found that only 41 percent of seniors surveyed thought Medicare would be around for their retirement – let alone for future generations.
Rep. Barrow has offered scare tactics on the topic of Medicare, but he certainly hasn’t offered anything other than the status quo. Today’s Medicare is going bankrupt, with more and more doctors refusing to see patients on the program and with an estimated 10-15 percent of expenditures being fraudulent. Sustaining the status quo is not an option.
We know Medicare is in trouble. Only one of the two candidates in the 12th District congressional race supports a credible plan to ensure Medicare exists for my children and yours, and that candidate is Lee Anderson.
Please don’t allow distortions in a political ad convince you to vote scared. I hope you’ll join me in voting for Lee – and saving Medicare.
(The writer is an Evans attorney and a former Republican congressional candidate for Georgia’s U.S. House District 12.)