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Shirley Bohnsack, Mayville, N.D., Published August 19 2012

Berg’s Medicare plan out-of-touch

Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Rick Berg should be embarrassed about using his mother to mislead other seniors about Medicare, but my guess is he is not.

But just because his mom repeats what the Republican Party scripts for her, doesn’t make it true. Here are the facts. President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act saves approximately $700 billion that was being wasted on subsidies for private insurance companies. Benefits for seniors actually improved under his plan. So when Berg talks about Obama’s Medicare cuts, he really means cuts for his buddies down at insurance company headquarters.

The Ryan/Romney/Berg plan, however, actually does cut Medicare on the beneficiary side. You see, it would turn Medicare into a voucher (coupon) plan, in which seniors would get a set amount to apply toward private insurance plans. If your costs go above that set amount, you are left to pay out of pocket for the difference. The CBO has estimated that would be approximately $6,400.

The Ryan/Romney/Berg plan also allows insurance companies to once again discriminate due to pre-existing conditions, set yearly and lifetime caps on benefits, and reinstate the doughnut hole. The plan also guts Medicaid, which many seniors need to help pay for nursing home costs. In other words, this plan does cut benefits and essentially ends Medicare. It is part of the Republican plan to do what they’ve wanted to do for decades: eliminate the safety net programs.

Maybe Berg plans to use some of his many millions to support himself, his mother, and their medical needs for the rest of their lives. Maybe she doesn’t care about those who aren’t so lucky to have a congressman’s health plan and a multimillion-dollar bank account. Or maybe she was just a pawn in her son’s quest for higher office.