Rob Zerban: On Its 45th Anniversary, Medicare Is Under Assault By Paul Ryan

Jun 30, 2011


MADISON-Following is an op-ed from Democratic challenger Rob Zerban on the 45th anniversary of the implementation of Medicare.
“On July 1, 1966, more than two decades after Democrats first introduced it and almost a year after President Johnson signed it into law,  one of the greatest programs to protect the middle class was implemented, bringing, as Winston Churchill said, the “magic of averages to the rescue of millions.”

Born of the idea that in their twilight, seniors should not fall prey to poverty and unchecked speculation, Medicare was afterward expanded and preserved by succeeding generations of Democrats.

Through wars and recessions, through deficits and surpluses, Medicare has stood, with Medicaid and Social Security, as a redoubt for seniors and their families.

On its 45th anniversary, Medicare is under assault by Paul Ryan. 
It is not surprising that the same forces that fought the creation of Medicare are lining Paul Ryan’s pockets to see it end. Health insurance giants and pharmaceutical companies stand to profit from the Ryan plan to turn the program into a voucher system. The Ryan plan would end the genius of Medicare: a guarantee for seniors that when they are suffering from illness, they will receive treatment and they will not be relegated to the poorhouse.

Ryan has draped himself in self-serving platitudes about his own “courage,” but his efforts to end Medicare are anything but. He has cherry-picked facts and badly distorted the truth about Medicare and its solvency. It’s not just that his mischaracterizations are dangerous demagoguery, his plan puts our seniors and middle class families in real jeopardy.

Ryan would set us back 45 years, when a parent or grandparent would get sick and would face economic hardship because of it. At the same time, Ryan would see the richest among us, billionaires and millionaires, share less and less of the burdens of keeping America whole and our middle class safe.

Republicans, Democrats, and all seniors understand that Medicare is an essential program that should be preserved and extended with common-sense reform. Paul Ryan does not share this view. And unless he is stopped, Medicare will have no more birthdays to celebrate.”