GOP Embraces Medicare to Kill Health Care Reform

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Monday, August 17, 2009 at 6:00 am
President Barack Obama (WDCpix)

President Barack Obama (WDCpix)

In a sharp switch from their historic reproach of government-backed health care, Republicans on Capitol Hill this year are embracing Medicare in their bid to kill the Democrats’ health reform plans.

Last year, when the Bush administration rolled out its annual budget proposing more than $500 billion in Medicare cuts, many Republican leaders cheered the legislation as a necessary move in the direction of fiscal responsibility.

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), then-minority whip, called the cuts “the needed first-step” to lend Medicare “a solid economic footing.” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the proposal marked “an important starting point” for reining in Medicare spending. And Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), senior Republican on the House Budget Committee, cheered the plan for taking “a significant, critical step toward addressing the greatest threat to our nation’s future strength and prosperity — the unsustainable growth of our largest entitlement programs.”

What a difference a year can make.

As the Democrats aim to overhaul the nation’s health care system this year — a plan that would cut hundreds of billions of dollars in projected Medicare spending — the message coming from conservative leaders has been hardly congratulatory. Instead, most are warning of the disastrous effects that those cuts will have on seniors. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) charged the Democrats with using “Medicare as a piggy bank” to fund their health reform plans. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has accused those across the aisle of trying “to cannibalize” Medicare. And Boehner has said the proposal would create “fewer choices and lower health care quality for our nation’s seniors.”

“I don’t think that’s right,” the minority leader said late last month.

The sentimental flip-flop, many experts argue, is hardly accidental. Faced with sweeping Democratic proposals that include the creation of a public insurance plan and the broad expansion of Medicaid to subsidize millions of uninsured Americans, Republicans are fighting tooth and nail to kill the legislation. Their tactics have ranged from the wholly absurd — like claims that the Obama administration hopes to promote abortion and euthanasia — to the simply uncharacteristic, like the sudden embrace of the same Medicare system they’ve long tried to privatize. The scare tactics have resonated with seniors, who oppose the reforms more than any other group. But the opposition strategy also puts Republicans in the odd position of blasting away at the public plan at the same time that they’re adamantly defending the virtues of Medicare, the working definition of government-backed health care. In the eyes of many experts, the strategy is sign that GOP leaders will say anything to defeat the legislation.

Alluding to the trillions of dollars of deficit spending run up by Republican leaders this decade, Henry Aaron, health policy expert at the Brookings Institution, seemed to find the change of heart amusing. “They do not want to do anything now that would raise the deficit and they do not want to cut spending because that would deny someone something (even though there is considerable waste),” Aaron said in an email. “But they claim to be all in favor of health reform. Go figure!”

“As far as economic probity is concerned,” Aaron added, “no one has ever accused the Republican leadership of consistency.”

Julian Zelizer, political scientist at Princeton University, pointed to a similar explanation. “It’s just politics — politics and hypocrisy,” he said. “It can scare seniors against Obama’s plan.”

Yale political scientist Jacob Hacker echoed that message, pointing out that conservatives have proposed cuts to Medicare long before last year’s Bush administration budget, including a fierce push in the mid-1990s originated by then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who promoted the idea of allowing Medicare to “wither on the vine.” The current opposition from Republicans the the Democrats’ proposals, Hacker said, is “nakedly hypocritical.”

“There’s an underlying, consistent point that the Republicans don’t like Obama’s plan,” he said. “They’re using every argument they can throw out there.”

The comments arrive as Democrats are taking to town halls across the country in hopes of selling the party’s reform plans to a skeptical public — and Republicans are fanning the flames of opposition with claims that the proposals will lead to rationing and fewer benefits for seniors.

Under the House health reform bill — which has already passed through the three committees with jurisdiction over health care legislation — Democrats are proposing cuts to projected Medicare spending that would top $500 billion. While the number is comparable to last year’s Bush administration proposal, there are vast differences between the two plans in terms of where the money would be spent.

Unlike the Bush Medicare cuts which went largely to fund an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts — most of which are scheduled to expire at the end of 2010 — the bulk of the money trimmed from Medicare under the Democrats’ plan would be pumped back into the health system. For example, House Democrats have proposed to subsidize health coverage for those earning too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to purchase their own insurance easily. The House bill would provide such subsidies to those earning up to 400 percent of poverty, or $88,000 for a family of four. The House bill would also spend $245 billion to fix the faulty formula designed to update Medicare payments to doctors — a fix that Congress currently tackles on an annual, temporary basis, usually with deficit spending. The 2009 Bush budget ignored the so-called doc-fix issue.

But, despite an endorsement from the AARP, the proposed cuts have put Medicare beneficiaries on edge. Seniors have emerged as the demographic most doubtful of the Democrats’ plans, with only 20 percent in support, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Speaking at a town hall gathering in New Hampshire on Tuesday, President Obama sought to allay those fears, arguing that the proposed Medicare cuts represent overpayments, waste and corporate profits, not direct spending on health care. “This is not money going to you to pay for your benefits,” Obama said. “This is money that is subsidizing folks who don’t need it.”

For example, the House bill cuts more than $156 billion from the Medicare Advantage program, a controversial, Republican-created initiative under which the government buys private health insurance for seniors. Billed as a program capable of trimming Medicare spending, Medicare Advantage instead costs 14 percent more per patient than traditional Medicare — a discrepancy the Democrats have long-attempted to eliminate. The fight over the program has always been as much about ideology as it’s been about policy.

“This is not just an issue of cutting Medicare,” said Hacker, author of Health at Risk: America’s Ailing Health System — and How to Heal It. “It’s an issue of where the funds are going.”

The debate arrives as the nation’s health care costs continue to grow at a pace head and shoulders above the rest of the economy, threatening to swamp federal spending in a few short decades. This year health care spending is projected to hit $2.6 trillion, representing 18 percent of the gross domestic product, according to the Congressional Budget Office. By 2017, the figure is projected to jump to 20 percent.

Frustrating the Democrats efforts, there appears to be a failure among at least some Medicare beneficiaries to recognize that the program providing their health care is a public plan. It’s a dynamic that hasn’t been lost on Obama.

“I got a letter the other day from a woman,” he said last month at a health care forum sponsored by AARP. “She said, ‘I don’t want government-run health care, I don’t want socialized medicine, and don’t touch my Medicare.’ And I wanted to say, well, I mean, that’s what Medicare is, is it’s a government-run health care plan that people are very happy with.

“But I think,” he added, “that we’ve been so accustomed to hearing those phrases that sometimes we can’t sort out the myth from the reality.”

Comments

55 Comments

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RCharles
Comment posted August 17, 2009 @ 10:57 am

Anyone who believes the Republicans is not listening carefully. There is a well-orchestrated effort to destroy President Obama by stopping his efforts at health care reform. The Republicans have abandoned all honesty and integrity for the pursuit of a single goal – destroy President Obama.

In the history of the US Government there has not been major changes in social wellfare programs forced on those currently receiving benefits. Social Security adjustments, for example, to deal with extended life-spans was enacted years ago to address the problem with retirees just coming on-line today. At the time the legislation was passed, no one receiving benefits or within ten years of receiving benefits saw any change, allowing those close to retirement to continue on their plans and include their expected SS benefit.

The same will happen with Medicare; those covered today by Medicare will receive all the current benefits, while those queued up for benefits in ten or twenty years will see some changes as medical services advance and alternative therapies become more commonplace. No on on Medicare today will see any change in their benefits. Period.

RCharles


Sam Watson
Comment posted August 17, 2009 @ 11:09 am

Of course health care reform won't change Medicare benefits for any of the beneficiaries – any serious change in Medicare benefits would throw the whole system into chaos, especially if seniors started going to emergency rooms to replace those lost benefits. As everyone knows, the un-insured who use emergency rooms for necessary treatment just put the costs back on those who can pay their hospital bills.

I'm on Medicare now, have been for a few years, and think it's the best program run by the U S Government. They can call it socialized medicine but it's there when I need it and will be for the rest of my life, even with President Obama's proposed changes, which are necessary to rein in the exploding costs. For example, President Obama wants to eliminate the Medicare Advantage program, which pays profit-driven insurance companies to manage Medicare benefits. I've had experience with Medicare Advantage with a large, national insurer and find no improvement over straight Medicare, yet it costs the US Government 14% more to administer than regular Medicare. I think all Medicare Advantage programs should be eliminated and the tax money saved should be used to help provide basic medical benefits to the un-insured, especially to uninsured children.

Sam


nupek
Comment posted August 17, 2009 @ 11:16 am

walk

The secret of longevity for a major section of people who are ‘ octogenarians ‘ – That is People who are in their eighties would be morning walk which was done for decades. People have nowadays gradually started realizing the importance of morning walk in shaping the health of human body. But still there are umpteen number of people who do not unwind themselves from their mechanical lives. Technological advancements have made life more simpler in all respects but we humans must also pay the price for it if we do not allocate time in our hectic schedule for some physical work like walking or visiting Gym’s. Around fifteen years ago, TV remotes were rarely found in houses and hence we used to walk at least for changing channels. But now ? Sitting hours together in front of the idiot box, continuously feeding the stomach with snacks or sweets, leading to obesity. If you question a doctor on the health benefits offered by walking he would give you a long lecture. Let us see some of the benefits.

1) It is a stress buster which instills a feeling of freshness to the body as well as mind.

2) blood circulation is promoted, reducing greatly the chances of high blood pressure.

3) Checks obesity by burning unnecessary calories of fat in the body.

4) It makes the joints more strong and hence people would be less susceptible to Orthopedic troubles associated with old age.

5) Chases away neck pain and back pains.

6) If you go walk in a park surrounded by trees, you will inhale more fresh air, containing higher concentration of oxygen, thereby bringing down breathing problems too.

7) Keeps sugar levels under control.


nupek
Comment posted August 17, 2009 @ 11:17 am

http://nupek.com/health/health-benefits-offered…


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frankf
Comment posted August 17, 2009 @ 12:08 pm

RCharles,

I wish I could believe you when you write that “No one on Medicare today will see any change in their benefits.” But the article also notes this: “Under the House health reform bill — which has already passed through the three committees with jurisdiction over health care legislation — Democrats are proposing cuts to projected Medicare spending that would top $500 billion.” Now, some of these savings might be from readjusting money around in the system, but wouldn't it be nice if Obama unequivocally (and for what it's worth coming from someone who has broken so many promises) stated that “No one on Medicare today will see any change in their benefits.” I don't recall Obama promising that. And since most people know and like Medicare, why hasn't Obama simply extended Medicare to everyone (phasing it in if necessary)? You do remember, do you not, that back in February both Rahm Emanuel and Obama intended to call conferences on entitlements (meaning Social Security and Medicare) because “they were costing too much money”.


RCharles
Comment posted August 17, 2009 @ 1:24 pm

Frankf

Thanks for the reply and comments.

I can't quote anyone as saying there won't be changes to current beneficiaries but it is the history of changes to both SS and Medicare.

Also, the $500B in predicted savings is over ten years, or about $50B/year. A serious number, to be sure, but certainly is doable. For example, Medicare now pays private insurers 14 percent more on average for Medicare Advantage — an estimated $1,000 more per beneficiary each year — than it would cost to cover the same beneficiaries under regular Medicare. This covers about 20% of Medicare beneficiaries; my Medicare is via a Medicare Advantage plan from my former employer; I have argued with them that it provides inferior service and should be dropped. President Obama has proposed paying the private insurers just the average cost/beneficiary for the rest of Medicare, but the insurance companies are working to defeat it, protecting their profits from these overpayments at the expense of Medicare’s financial health.

For more on Medicare costs vs. general health care costs, see this site: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=2812 it is clear that the problem is not Medicare per se but the continuous growth in the general cost of health care for all citizens.

Regards

RCharles


jackcbloedorn
Comment posted August 17, 2009 @ 1:59 pm

I am 76, Been on Medicare since age 65. Love it! I have an inexpensive supplement (Plan F) which really releives me of health care concerns for the rest of my life. The reason seniors are afraid is because a cut of $500B has not been explained. What will the cut be? Will my cost share go up, and hence my supplemental insurance go up? Will my access be deminished? Will what is covered be reduced?

My wife and I well remember the decades and decades of health coverage under the private health care insurance industry. It was (and remains) a disgrace; even a fraud perpetrated on the good citizens of this country. I believe the greatest single reform which can occur is a sea change in attitude regarding the reason d'etre for health care. Specifically, American health care needs to transition from a profit oriented, market oriented, business oriented proposition to a strictly patient oriented adventure. Take the profit motieve out of health care and attend to the real needs of people/patients. I believe doing so will have NONE of the disastrous scare tactic consequences claimed by some. Indeed, I believe doing so will, within 10 years, generate a very effective, cost efficient, affordable health care system for all Americans which can be sustained indefinitely at very reasonable cost to taxpayers and governemnt alike.


MilliJoolz
Comment posted August 17, 2009 @ 4:23 pm

I agree with what you wrote. But let's face it, these things we can do to stay healthy will not take care of serious ailments.

I am very scared that the health reforms that I had hoped for are not going to happen. And that would be the biggest disappointment ever. My husband and I have only his SS (I came to this country after I stopped working so I have no benefits built up here). We are paying 906.00 a month for health insurance. I dread <sp?> the day (and it will come) that we can't afford the insurance anymore. We desperately need a new healthcare system. Walking is not going to solve all health issues because if it would it wouldn't be free now, would it? No doubt in my mind… the insurance companies would have found a way to charge us for walks.


goldha
Comment posted August 17, 2009 @ 9:34 pm

All right. Finally a discussion about the proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage plans.

As I understand it, by law the overpayments/subsidies to these private plans have to result in added and/or increased benefits to those “Medicare” beneficiaries in these plans. I know one such plan I am looking at, which would involve NO premium to me, includes such increases, including a pretty good Plan D, prescription drug coverage.

Then the president says cutting out these overpayments to Medicare Advantage plans over the next decade would save $177 billion (his figure, I believe) but would not result in any decreases in Medicare benefits. But that is then a half truth at best, because while no would see any decreases in their traditional Medicare benefits, they would be losing some, most or all of their added Medicare Advantage benefits. These added/increased benefits that 11-million Americans stand to lose are why these plans are called Medicare “Advantage” plans. They offer advantages over traditional Medicare.

Now, maybe we, as a nation, just cannot afford such plans if we are to provide universal health care and, at the same time, start to bring our spiraling health-care costs down. But all of us, including the president, should be willing to get involved in an honest discussion of all of this. It is funny, too, when you come to understand that part of this debate about Medicare Advantage also has to do with the Democrat/Republican philosophical difference about what should be the basic nature of health care. Evidently Medicare Advantage, as we know it today, where Medicare pays insurers to then pay for services (instead of paying for services directly as in traditional Medicare) is essentially a first-step result of Republicans' desire to privatize Medicare as the GOP would like to see done with Social Security.


William_LeGro
Comment posted August 17, 2009 @ 10:03 pm

That Democrats can't seem to overcome Republicans who use such blatant hypocrisy and outright lies does not speak well for their intelligence and even less well for the quality of their leadership – beginning with the president. Obama is just the tip of the iceberg, but I will wager that, if things keep going as they are now and he continues to allow himself to be steamrolled by a party with nothing in its favor but sociopathy, he will become a one-term president.

I'm not the only one who has watched him break promise after promise, make one craven compromise after another, stand idly by while good legislation dies an early death, and defend his own supposed passions with a disturbing lack of affect. Nor am I the only one who has decided not to vote for him again, and possibly never vote again at all.


Swami_Binkinanda
Comment posted August 17, 2009 @ 11:32 pm

And then you get hit by a car, or slip on the ice, or trip on a root, have a heart attack, suffer a stroke, discover you have asthma and allergies, go into a seizure from blinking lights, have an aneurysm rupture, appendicitis strikes, or you're attacked by a bear or moose or snake, shot by gangbangers, hit by a cyclist, accosted by homeless people bankrupted by health care costs and bad mortgages, hit by lightning, bitten by feral dogs and then have to go to the emergency room with inadequate coverage or find out you're too expensive to cover. Then you spend the rest of your life accosting people on the streets with plenty of time to realize that not all health care costs are due to the sins and failings of the patient.


lorenzorichards
Comment posted August 18, 2009 @ 2:42 am

Yes I quit AARP because my AARP which I have been a member for several years since I was 55 let me down and supported a bill that if passed will make me pay more for my health insurance and less benefits and more co-payment. It is true check it yourself, for every Lab test my Doctor orders I have to pay 20% co-payment. My Doctor orders 3 tests and total cost $200 so I have to come up with $40 every month.
My AARP knowingly misled me. I quit because the present officials are blindly supporting Democratic party. AARP should not be an extension of any political party, their loyalty should be to the member.


lorenzorichards
Comment posted August 18, 2009 @ 2:52 am

YES your CO-PAYMENT for Lab Test is going to be 20% brfore it was nothing. My doctor orders 3 tests and $200, either it will be $40 or $60 depending on how the tests are billed. AARP misled me and I quit AARP. Like this there are more clauses hidden in the Bill. Obama also cut a deal with Drug companies to prevent us from getting Generic drugs and from Canada. If he is trying to lower our cost why can not we get our medicine from Canada. Obama said open Government, now he secretly had a meeting with Drug Companies and will not tell us what is the deal. I wish I did not vote for him!


gfulmore
Comment posted August 18, 2009 @ 4:09 am

I don't believe that there is a Part “F” under Medicare. That's a new one on me. It sounds like it might be a fraud. I think I agree with the rest of your statements. I'm also under Medicare and love it. I find it affordable and I think it will always be there when I need it.


gfulmore
Comment posted August 18, 2009 @ 4:13 am

Silly me. Sure, the Part F you are referring to is one of the options available before Part D was introduced. There was “J”, I think, that included drug payments, too. Sorry for my earlier comment. I hope that supplemental insurance works well for you. It is important. What is also important is that we find a way to control the increasing costs of medical care, including under Medicare, before it bankrupts us all.


Tiranga
Comment posted August 18, 2009 @ 9:16 am

I agree with your statements. I'm also under Medicare and love it. Nice post. Thanks for sharing.


RCharles
Comment posted August 18, 2009 @ 10:53 am

Lorenzo

I agree with your action; I quit AARP when they blatantly supported the Bush drug plan, which added over $400Billion to the defecit. the Bush drug plan was designed to buy senior votes and it worked; they won FL with that bill and the rest of us and our grandchildren will be paying off the deficit for a long time. AARP supported the bill because they want to sell life and health insurance to seniors, so they want to look a friend of all seniors. Don't believe it; they are another profit driven marketing company.

It has become clear that there is no cheap solution to the health care problem because the cost of healthcare is going up faster than anything else. It's a major problem that must be dealt with now; if not brought under control it will bankrupt the country. Think of it as similar to California, where they capped taxes a few years back but kept spending. Now they are bankrupt and cutting almost everything. That will happen to the US Government if we don't rein in the costs and the spending.

Regards

RCharles


RCharles
Comment posted August 18, 2009 @ 11:05 am

Hi again, Lorenzo

I believe that Obama worked an agreement with the drug companies that has them kicking in $80 Billion toward the cost of health care reform. I agree, Medicare should be able to negotiate drug prices. The fact that Medicare cannot negotiate drug prices was built into the Bush drug plan as a gift to the drug industry in exchange for campaign contributions. The Bush team also blocked drugs from Canada, where identical drugs are cheaper, so the American drug companies can rip us off.

Clearly every industry with a stake in this game is massively lobbying congress to try and keep whatever advantage they have now. If we believe there will be some form of health care reform, and I believe there will be, we need to keep our congressional delegation informed of our views and positions. I've already sent them emails that I think a public option for insurance should be part of the bill.

I can't explain any change in co-pay since that has been part of my insurance coverage for years and is now part of my Medicare. In fact, my Medicare Part B premium is tied to my income, which is a form of means testing.

Regards

RCharles


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republicanstupidity
Comment posted August 18, 2009 @ 6:20 pm

And we are to believe your lies because?????


jackcbloedorn
Comment posted August 18, 2009 @ 8:29 pm

To gfulmore who wrote:”I don't believe that there is a Part “F” under Medicare. That's a new one on me. It sounds like it might be a fraud.”

I think I wrote that I have an inexpensive supplement – Medicare Supplement – Plan F. But you are correct that Medicare per se has no Plan F.


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Vollena Skeens
Comment posted August 25, 2009 @ 4:25 am

I think that this newspaper is so disillusinoned. I doubt that you will even take the time to read my feelings on your article, and if you do read it, you will not consider my feelings as being legitimate. I AM an American, just like you. I do have a right to my feelings about what I want for my children and grandchildren.
What I want is for the government to stay out of my affairs. They should not be able to dictate to us how our health will be handled. This is MY life, not my governments. I do believe that the insurance agencies should get the boot…. Why are we paying a middle man for our health care? But, if it comes between the insurance agencies and the government, I choose the insurance companies. At least there, we have a chose. The government will eventually take that choice away from us. And if you think I am wrong, you are probably young and naive, and have not seen what I have seen.
Why do we need a middle man anyway? The insurance companies are not the ones who heal, or care for us and our loved ones. Why do we need them.
? Just eliminate the insurance companies and the doctors can lower their costs, because they do not have the insurance companies to comply to.


vollenaskeens
Comment posted August 25, 2009 @ 4:33 am

I agree with you whole heartedly. Insurance companies have made a fortune on scare tactics, to the point that they control the health care system totally. We do not need the insurance companies. Look how many people we are supporting, working for insurance companies, and for what? Do they heal, or take care of our medical needs? No, they take our money and tell our doctors what they can or cannot do. But, if it comes to insurance companies or the government lining their pockets with our money, I vote for insurance companies. At least, we have a choice.


vollenaskeens
Comment posted August 25, 2009 @ 4:47 am

BUT, what about my husband and I? He is 62, just started social security, and I am 56, still working so that we can have insurance. Will we have medicare, which by the way, we have trusted our government to supply to us, just like you did. We are struggling like most Americans as prices of EVERYTHING is skyrocketing. Should we not be allowed to have the same security that you have, after all the years of paying into social security and medicare? No, it is not fair. Now that the baby boomers paid all these years and politiciians have lined their pockets with that hard earned money, none is left for our care. Yes, I am mad.


RCharles
Comment posted August 25, 2009 @ 10:16 am

As I suggested, someone on Social Seciurity and close to Medicare will not see any changes. But just as SS age was adjusted higher because retirees were living much longer than the plan was designed to handle, Medicare is paying much more for health care, and longer, than the system was designed to handle. Over many years the system must be adjusted to deal with these changes. But it won't impact anyone as close to Medicare as you and your husband.

Also, the Republicans created Medicare Advantage, where Medicare buys private insurance for seniors, as a gift to the insurance industry in exchange for campaign contributions. It costs Medicare 14% more to provide Medicare Advantage coverage. I'm retired but my employer provides some health coverage; the Medicare Advantage program they provided cost me $100/month in ADDITION to the Medicare part B cost of $100/month. So, for me, Medicare Advantage cost the government more and cost me more, for NO added benefits. I totally agree with eliminating Medicare Advantage programs to save the extra expense as a way to control costs.


Sam
Comment posted August 25, 2009 @ 10:27 am

Yes, of course the Republicans want to eliminate Medicare and Social Security. Bush thought he could privitize Social Security and tried to push that through but was stopped, with most seeing it as a threat to their retirements.

And the Republicans absolutely want to eliminate Medicare. The Republican mantra, let market forces solve the problem, has led us to this mess because the “market forces” at work are the big money makers – insurance, drug companies – paying huge campaign donations to Republicans so they can win re-election. As has been noted, during the Bush admin they proposed cutting $500 billion from Medicare to “stop the slide toward socialized medicine”, ignoring the complaints from seniors. This year they are massively supporting Medicare and scaring the seniors simply as another path to stopping President Obama's health care reform.

Goldha, Medicare Advantage plans are exactly as you describe – a first-step result of Republicans' desire to privatize Medicare. They are not available to all Medicare recipients and, as RCharles described in another post, for some Seniors they are only available at extra cost. Given the basic problem of ever rising costs for health care, it would seem only appropriate to rein in the higher costs of Medicare Advantage, which does not change anyone's basic Medicare coverage.


Sam
Comment posted August 25, 2009 @ 10:43 am

vollenaskeens Only a few of those covered by private insurance companies have any choice; most are covered by a company selected and paid for by their employer. So your coverage is at the mercy of that company; you may or may not get coverage for any specific condition.

For many years now the insurance companies have worked hard not to spend money, just collect premiums. They can and DO deny coverage for any pre-existing conditions and they often deny coverage for serious conditions with complex treatment needs. Often the patient or a relative is forced to fight for coverage at the same time they are struggling to understand the illness and the alternatives to therapy. Meanwhile, your doctor is forced to game the insurance system, selecting just the code that will cover the needed tests and not be rejected by the insurance company.

Bottom line: insurance companies try not to pay and doctors fight to get paid. My personal care physician has at least five people on staff just to deal with insurance paperwork. Clearly the costs of those five employees gets added to the cost of treatment but adds nothing to the value of that treatment.

A Public Option, which is a single payer system like Medicare, is proposed as a last resort for those who can't afford private insurance; it is the best way to solve the problem above. A Public Option not only provides coverage to everyone without other insurance, but it puts pressure on private insurance companies to start behaving like insurance companies: control costs and provide coverage; if they don't, people will start migrating to the Public Option.


goldha
Comment posted August 25, 2009 @ 1:36 pm

Sam, I think most of what you say is true and that we have to see through much of what Republicans are arguing for on this, but I don't think we can hold the Democrats harmless either.

My main gripe right now is what the President is saying about wringing the waste out of Medicare Advantage but that, when we do nobody's Medicare benefits will be hurt. Technically true, but as he continues to say that, with no one calling him on it, it becomes pretty disingenuous, if not an outright lie. About 11 million Americans stand to lose benefits under their Medicare Advantage plans, if not, technically speaking, “Medicare” benefits.

What if no one calls him on this (Are there any news media listening? I doubt it; they don't listen too very good.) and then the 11 million old folks see their benefits shrink. What will that do to his ratings?

Once again, problem is no real discussion about this, except between a few of us here. And, in my mind's eye, they are all gd politicians. That's a wrap.


Bosslimo
Comment posted August 27, 2009 @ 11:33 pm

My father is 85. WWII vet. He has had medicare for 20 years. Without it, he would be penniless. Know what I wish? I wish I had medicare today myself. You know, that is exactly what the public option is, a larger tent of medicare. Want to debate how many on medicare don't like it? I mean doesn't like it enough to dump it and get private insurance. Line them up and you won't have enough people for a basketball team.


Bosslimo
Comment posted August 27, 2009 @ 11:59 pm

With a universal healthcare system, no matter what your illness, you would be covered. What matters if the “advantage” is taken out? Nothing, you will be covered no matter the illness. Probably a better system than medicare, after all, Congress has it already.


thresha
Comment posted March 24, 2010 @ 11:04 am

Medicare supplements Insurance Plan covers a number of things that are not covered by basic plans.
http://medicaresupplementinsurances.com/


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Comment posted August 4, 2010 @ 9:01 am

It has become clear that there is no cheap solution to the health care problem because the cost of healthcare is going up faster than anything else. It's a major problem that must be dealt with now; if not brought under control it will bankrupt the country. Think of it as similar to California, where they capped taxes a few years back but kept spending. Now they are bankrupt and cutting almost everything. That will happen to the US Government if we don't rein in the costs and the spending.


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Comment posted September 27, 2010 @ 9:49 pm

What if no one calls him on this (Are there any news media listening? I doubt it; they don't listen too very good.) and then the 11 million old folks see their benefits shrink. What will that do to his ratings?


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