Saturday, November 5, 2011

Romney Remarks on Health Reform

November 5, 2011 – What follows are excerpts from Mitt Romney’s speech yesterday before Americans for Prosperity. His plan would cut $500 billion from the federal budget, much of it from Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. He would gradually increase eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare and turn Medicaid into a block-grant program capping payments for states for the poor and disabled. He would privatize parts of Medicare for the young, but would allow older people to keep tradtitional Medicare at an option.

"I will make government simpler, smaller, and smarter.

This is not only good for the economy, it is a moral imperative. We cannot with moral conscience borrow trillions of dollars that can only be repaid by our children. We cannot so weaken our economic foundation that we jeopardize our ability to preserve freedom.

It is time to level with the American people about what it will take to cut spending and balance our budget, to set honest goals and present a credible plan to achieve them.

This won’t be easy. It requires tough choices. Many believe it can’t be done. I believe it must be done. I believe in the American people. When the nation calls, Americans deliver.

We’ll need to find almost $500 billion in savings a year in 2016.

That will start with the easiest cut of all: I will repeal Obamacare. This alone will save us $95 billion a year. It’s bad law, bad policy, and when I’m president, the bad news of Obamacare will be over.

So first, we will eliminate or cut programs that are not absolutely essential.

Second, we return numerous federal programs to the states. That's because innovation, cost management, and reduction of fraud and abuse can far exceed what Washington is able to achieve.

Medicaid is a prime example. We need to turn Medicaid back to the states and allow them to craft the healthcare solutions that suit their citizens best. By limiting the growth of Medicaid funding to CPI plus one percent, we will save $100 billion a year.

.Our next president is going to face difficult choices. Among these will be the future of Social Security and Medicare. In their current form, these programs will go bankrupt. I know that, you know that, and even our friends in the other party know that. The difference is that I will be honest about strengthening and preserving them, and they won’t.

President Obama has failed to articulate a single serious idea to save Social Security.

I believe we can save Social Security with a few commonsense reforms. First, there will be no change for retirees or those near retirement. No change. Second, for the next generation of retirees, we should slowly raise the retirement age. And, finally, for the next generation of retirees, we should slow the growth in benefits for those with higher incomes.

While President Obama has been silent on Social Security, his agenda for Medicare is disastrous. He’s the only president in modern history who has cut Medicare for seniors—do not forget, it was President Obama who cut $500 billion from Medicare, not to preserve it or sustain it, but to pay for his vaunted Obamacare.

And he put the future of Medicare in the hands of 15 unelected bureaucrats. These bureaucrats have the power to enact further cuts to Medicare without congressional approval, even if those cuts overturn a law previously passed by Congress. President Obama’s so-called Medicare reforms could lead to the rationing or denial of care for seniors on Medicare.

Unlike President Obama, our next president must protect Medicare, improve the program, and keep it sustainable for generations to come. Several principles will guide my efforts.

First, Medicare should not change for anyone in the program or soon to be in it. We should honor our commitments to our seniors.

Second, as with Social Security, tax hikes are not the solution. We couldn’t tax our way out of unfunded liabilities so large, even if we wanted to.

Third, tomorrow’s seniors should have the freedom to choose what their health coverage looks like. Younger Americans today, when they turn 65, should have a choice between traditional Medicare and other private healthcare plans that provide at least the same level of benefits.

Competition will lower costs and increase the quality of healthcare for tomorrow’s seniors.

The federal government will help seniors pay for the option they choose, with a level of support that ensures all can obtain the coverage they need. Those with lower incomes will receive more generous assistance. Beneficiaries can keep the savings from less expensive options, or they can choose to pay more for a costlier plan.

Finally, as with Social Security, the eligibility age should slowly increase to keep pace with increases in longevity.

These ideas will give tomorrow’s seniors the same kinds of choices that most Americans have in their healthcare today. The future of Medicare should be marked by competition, choice, and innovation—rather than bureaucracy, stagnation, and bankruptcy. Our path for the future of Social Security and Medicare is honesty and security, theirs is demagoguery and deception.

The plan I propose to make government simpler, smaller, and smarter represents the biggest fundamental change to the federal government in modern history. It is a change we must make if the words “full faith and credit of the United States” are to mean anything at all.

We’re not the first people to come to this realization. And we won’t be the first people to be criticized for believing that responsibility is a virtue.

President Ronald Reagan shared our conviction.

In his first inaugural address, he said:

“It is not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work -- work with us, not over us; stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.”

The task before us now is to reaffirm our conviction in the beliefs and values that unite us … in the challenges and opportunities that face us … and in the victory that awaits us.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America."

Tweet:Mitt Romney would up eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare, privatize parts of Medicare, change Medicaid into state block-grants.

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