Reader's view: Cravaack would replace Medicare with vouchersU.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack wants to replace the current government-run Medicare system with vouchers to be used so seniors would buy health insurance on the private market.
A May 26 letter to the editor made the misleading claim that U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack wants to “protect” Medicare (Reader’s View: “Cravaack is working to protect Medicare”). In fact, Cravaack wants to replace the current government-run Medicare system with vouchers to be used so seniors would buy health insurance on the private market.
First, the voucher system would only kick in in 2023 when the current 54-year-olds turn 65; so it isn’t going to prevent the Medicare bankruptcy the writer claimed could occur by 2022. If you don’t change Medicare for those currently 55 and older, there simply won’t be any savings in the next 10 years.
After that, Medicare savings (cuts) would occur by keeping the voucher value below the current Medicare spending level. Given that Medicare has far lower administrative expenses than private insurers, there is no reason to think vouchers would provide anywhere near the level of insurance coverage of the current Medicare system.
If privatizing Medicare with a voucher system was such a great idea why isn’t it being proposed for all seniors as soon as possible? It’s because vouchers will not provide nearly the coverage of the current system.
Medical inflation will steadily erode the buying power of vouchers. This plan will create two classes of seniors: older “have” seniors with the current popular government-run Medicare and younger “have-not” seniors with vouchers that will only cover part of the cost of similar private insurance. It will be a boon for health insurers but a hardship for seniors.
Dr. Tom Peterson