Three hard realities about the health-care debate in which we are now engaged:
Reality One: The cost of caring for millions of elderly Americans in nursing homes — an estimated 60 percent of those housed in such facilities — are covered through Medicaid.
Reality Two: The budget proposed by Paul Ryan and passed in the House in 2011 would slash Medicaid funding by $800 billion over the next 10 years. Medicaid spending would be cut by 35 percent over currently projected levels by 2022, and by 49 percent by 2030.
Reality Three: Although a lot of us may not want to think about it, by 2022 and certainly by 2030, many of today’s baby boomers will be prime candidates for nursing home care.
So … what’s going to happen when those three realities collide?
If you slash Medicaid by almost 50 percent, as Ryan proposes, who is going to pay the bill for the increasing number of people who will need nursing home care? After all, most senior citizens — and most families of senior citizens — lack the resources to cover that financial cost for any extended period of time.
Back during the ObamaCare debate, we were treated to highly irresponsible claims about the program leading to “death panels” with patients being condemned to die by a government out to cut costs. But please … will someone explain to me how these Medicaid cuts — if allowed to take place — will not dramatically cut back care to millions of Americans physically and financially unable to care for themselves?
Where will those people go? What will happen to them?
I am not sure that Ryan understands that fact. I’m not sure that he has thought through what happens when his cold hard numbers are applied to warm living people. But we are not going to kick millions of elderly Americans out of long-term care facilities to die. We are not that country, and I hope that we will never be that country.