Monday, January 23, 2017

Medicare: Proposed Changes - Part Two

Hoo-Boy! This issue has been called the Third Rail of American Politics, and it surely has that potential to kill political careers.

A large part of the problem is the scare tactics being used by activists. They are playing on the natural desire not to lose a benefit, or to treat any change in a benefit as a personal attack on the individuals who are receiving it.

In the article linked above, the seniors are furious at the idea that the program won't be available, just exactly as it has been in the past. They consider the benefits theirs, by right, and any change as taking away something that is THEIRS.

They don't seem to have heard that old country saying, "Don't count your chickens until they're hatched."

The US Representative holding the meeting, Rosa DeLauro, fed into their fears.
DeLauro, who has a 97-year-old mother, said she's sensitive to cuts that affect seniors. Though she knows that the country needs to cut programs and bring down the deficit, she said she'd rather the country save money in other ways, such as ending subsidies for oil companies. DeLauro said the plan on the table "asks the deepest sacrifice of our seniors and those who have been working and saving in preparation for retirement." The proposed Medicare changes would drastically affect seniors' quality of life, she said, as the payment provided by the government through the plan likely wouldn't be enough to cover their health-care costs.
I do hate to spoil a good rant with the FACTS, but the CURRENT plan is not enough to cover their health-care costs. That's why politicians are trying to change it - because the enormous costs, although not sufficient to pay the providers what it costs to treat seniors, are threatening to take over the ENTIRE budget.

Currently, the Medicare portion of MANDATORY spending is about 23%. Although only 15% of the total budget, it's a part that cannot be reduced, unless the program itself is changed. Currently, Social Security and Medicare together are 37% of the budget.

That would take a LOT of oil company subsidies to make a dent in that number.  For comparison, ALL subsidies for fossil fuels were about 37 billion in 2015, less than 1% of the total budget. But, that number includes IRS rules that reduce taxes - something ALL companies take advantage of. Some of that 'subsidy' is to provide money to low income people for their heating costs - NOT something that the oil companies benefit from.

So, no, there is no magic pot of gold being hogged by the oil companies - or any other business - that would provide money to fix the Medicare problem. And, unless she is delusional, DeLauro knows it. Her words are simply demagoguery.

Another pie-in-the-sky Progressive, had one of the silliest responses to the problem:
Brad Plebani, deputy director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, based in Wallingford, spoke at the town meeting and decried the plan as "the worst I've ever encountered. It's designed to shift the costs (of health care) onto you, the Medicare beneficiaries, or your children or children's children."
Is that not who is supposed to pay for health care? The recipients? If they don't, the cost WILL fall on their children and grandchildren.

There really isn't any alternative, if the current system is to stay in place, other than the so-called Death Panels - as evidenced by the current Progressive Leadership:
The Obama administration plan would keep Medicare a government program, but give a panel of experts the power to force cuts if spending exceeded a certain target. His latest proposal would strengthen cost curbing mechanisms that are already in the new health-care overhaul.
 Those spending cuts mean that the 'experts' will decide that you really didn't need that expensive medicine, or the operation that would let you retain mobility. If you were over a certain age, you might be encouraged to take the 'voluntary' suicide option, thus freeing up resources for those younger.

I'll post more in Part 3.

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