With more House GOPers catching an earful from constituents worried about Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposals, here’s something to keep an eye out for: Do voters agree with the Dem argument — strongly denied by Republicans — that Ryan’s plan would end Medicare?
The Arkansas News talked to voters this weekend in the districts of three House GOPers who voted for the proposal — Rick Crawford, Tim Griffin and Steve Womack — and found that this is basically what they’re thinking:
“I think that the sickest people would not get the health care that they need,” said Pam Barton of Jonesboro, a pawn shop manager. “I think (Medicare) definitely needs to be tweaked, I think it needs lots of overhaul, but I don’t think the voucher system would work.”
“I don’t think much of it,” said John Spann of Little Rock, who is retired and eligible for Medicare. “We’ve got a good system. Why change it?”
Spann, who voted for Griffin in 2010, said the bill clearly is aimed at ending the program. “Even though they don’t say it is, it is,” he said.
Kevin Woolman of Rogers, who runs an antique store with his wife, said he voted for Womack (R-Rogers), and he strongly opposes the federal health care overhaul signed into law last year by President Obama — “They’re mandating how you’re going to live,” he said — but he also opposes replacing Medicare with a voucher system.
Woolman said he would support “an option in there for the public to go private, but just straight privatized, no. Insurance companies are thieves, there’s just no other way to put it.”
David Pitman of Little Rock, who works for a sand company, said Medicare provides guaranteed coverage, but “with the vouchers, you’re going to have to go search [for private insurance]. I don’t see it working.”
This is only the latest expression of unhappiness with the Ryan plan in GOP districts. Last week voters loudly complained about it to House GOPers in Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.
The question of whether the GOP plan “ends Medicare” is now absolutely central to the spin war over the Ryan plan. Dems are doubling down on that message in 25 GOP districts, and Republicans today are pushing back hard, circulating fact-checks that dispute the point.
In this context, the quotes from Arkansas voters are striking. Those interviewed either explicitly agree that the GOP plan ends Medicare, or suggest that the plan transforms the program’s mission so fundamentally that it will no longer play its intended role. Also: Given how vociferously Republicans deny that the Ryan plan is a voucher program, it’s interesting to see the word being used by voters so freely.