Tag Archives: Medicare

Why Medicare works and Obamacare might not

Picked this up at Andrew Sullivan’s site. More at the link.

Mike Konczal blames Obamacare’s technical problems on the law’s design. He contrasts Obamacare’s form of social insurance, which he labels “Category A,” with previous forms of social insurance, such as Medicare and Social Security, which he labels “Category B”

http://sullydish.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/social_insurance_category.png

And Ayn Ryan didn’t help

Look at “Age 65 and Older”. That’s a demo where Romney should be doing much better. Perhaps some day, in one of what will be many stories about how the 2012 election played out, this graphic might be resurrected and renamed How Medicare sunk Romney ‘s dreams of the White House. Chart from National Journal where the story is worth a read.

Hell-o-o-o . . .

The Republican presidential ticket is planning to save Medicare from the mean Democrats who are trying to take it away.

If this works, we’re toast.

A thought. A scam. A crime.

VOTER ID: I have absolutely no problem with voter ID. My problem is with 1) making it difficult, and 2) rushing it. Voter ID? Not a bad idea. The way they’re doing it? That’s suppression.

NEW STUPID GOP MEME: “In 1962, six percent of Americans got federal entitlements. Now, it’s 35 percent.” Clever. Of course 1962 was before there was Medicare.

CYNICAL MUCH?: Our Congress Critters have made clear once again that they are incapable of acting, even to save  the nation from the bullet they themselves aimed directly at 320 million Americans – the one that requires automatic spending cuts of $900 billion in January 2013.  So, diversion is called for. Time for a shiny new thing. What to do? Why, pass a new bill, The Sequestration Transparency Act. A Nebraska newspaper describes it thusly: “having proven incapable . . . they now indignantly demand to know how the President plans to cut spending.” Not them, the President. Neat.

Governor Voldemort has a better idea because he knows all about health care.

My Gov don’t like him none of that Muslim-Keynan Obamacare stuff. He’s no fan of Medicare/Medicaid either (even though his criminal abuse of both made him and his co-conspirators millions). Nevertheless, we the people chose him to run things here in Florida, trusting, I assume, that he’d gotten ethically born-again.

He knows – made it clear on Day One – that Obamacare is not for Florida and so has refused to institute any of the legally mandated reforms. He has a better idea. States, he says:

. . . can do a better job . . . we should have 50 laboratories to see which is the best approach.

Yeah, that’ll work.

Here’s a little summary of his earlier career as head of Columbia/HCA (that’s Health Corporation of America):

On March 19, 1997, investigators from the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Health and Human Services served search warrants at Columbia/HCA facilities in El Paso and on dozens of doctors with suspected ties to the company.[21] The Columbia/HCA board of directors pressured Scott to resign as Chairman and CEO following the inquiry.[22]He was paid $9.88 million in a settlement. He also left owning 10 million shares of stock worth over $350 million.[23][24][25] In 1999, Columbia/HCA changed its name back to HCA, Inc.

I always like that getting rewarded with $10million dollars for screwing up your company part. It’s the new American way you know. Also, job creators.

In the settlements,  Columbia/HCA pled guilty and agreed to a $600+ million fine in the largest fraud settlement in US history. They admitted systematically overcharging the government . . . They also admitted fraudulently billing Medicare and other health programs by inflating the seriousness of diagnoses and to giving doctors partnerships in company hospitals as a kickback for the doctors referring patients to HCA. They filed false cost reports, fraudulently billing Medicare . . .  In addition, they gave doctors “loans” never intending to be repaid, free rent, free office furniture, and free drugs from hospital pharmacies.

That ‘overcharging the government’ part? That’s us, that’s taxpayer money he stole.

In late 2002, HCA agreed to pay the U.S. government $631 million, plus interest, and pay $17.5 million to state Medicaid agencies, in addition to $250 million paid up to that point to resolve outstanding Medicare expense claims.[26]In all, civil law suits cost HCA more than $2 billion to settle, by far the largest fraud settlement in US history.[27]

 

Crow? Or eat your words? The Right has chosen.

Politifact has named their Lie of the Year for 2011“Republicans voted to end Medicare”.

Sayeth the right wing media today: Politifact heroically speaks the truth! It accuses Democats of perpetrating the biggest lie of the year. Wow! See? We told you so.

Sayeth the right wing media before today: They’re liberal leaning! Don’t trust what they say! Well known liberal bias! Tool of the librul media! Rush said so!

And so it goes.

(The 2010 and 2009 choices indicted Republicans, and on the same subject but, well, you know . . .)

A dime’s worth of difference?

POSTED BY ORHAN

So Obama offers a debt deal to the Republicans: he’ll cut Social Security and Medicare. In exchange, the Republicans will, maybe, allow the Bush tax cuts to expire. Or hike some other taxes; whatever.

Now the Republicans are saying no deal, they’ll only accept spending cuts; they’ll cut Social Security and Medicare, plus keep the Bush cuts, but deep-six the tax hikes.

So, let’s see, that means if Option 1, the Democratic plan, had been accepted, the rich would have been back to where they were under Clinton, and the poor and middle would have been worse off. But if Option 2, the Republican plan, is enacted, the rich will keep what they got from Bush, and the poor and middle will be worse off.

What can we say about America’s future from the horns of this little dilemma? If it plays out the way the health care farce did, we can make a few predictions:

The Tea Party will be left swinging in the breeze. The folks who screamed, “Keep your hands off my Medicare!” are about to have their Social Security and Medicare seriously FUBARed. Even the most hardcore non-rich Tea Partier will realize sooner or later there’s nothing here but, as the song says, the promise of an early death.

The Democratic base will be left swinging in the breeze, after having its veins opened, its throat slit, and a dagger slipped between its ribs. The new default “far left” bargaining position will start with Social Security and Medicare cuts. Obama will initiate his trademark “compromising” from there. Predicting which once-sacrosanct progressive program he’ll negotiate away next will be all the rage in DC.

Mainstream middle and working class Republicans will be left swinging in the breeze; it’ll just take them a while to figure it out. Sooner or later the most diehard trickle-down true believer will realize the upcoming corporate cash infusion (via “amnesty” or any other method) isn’t going to create any jobs for Americans, other than the corner-office and lobbying jobs for the politicians who sold us all down the river; but CEOs will no doubt receive some kickass bonuses over the next few years.

Life is about to get one hell of a lot harder for most Americans. Thanks to Democrats. And Republicans.

Major hurdle for Republicans in 2012: Reality

POSTED BY ORHAN

Economist Dean Baker points out that Republicans are a tad miffed that their vote for Representative Ryan’s plan to end Medicare is being used against them. Various groups around the country are using the vote in attack ads against incumbents, and they lost an upstate New York congressional seat that they held for 50 years. Says Baker:

Medicare is a hugely popular program. Polls consistently show that the program has enormous public support among all political and demographic groups. Not only do Democrats and independents overwhelmingly support the Medicare program, even Republicans overwhelmingly approve of Medicare. Even Tea Party Republicans overwhelming approve of Medicare.

The Republicans can try to deny that their plan actually ends Medicare and hope that voters will be sufficiently confused that they won’t hold the vote against them. They have already been staking out this ground, claiming that they just want to “change” Medicare. Instead of saying that they would give beneficiaries a voucher to use to buy a health insurance policy, which would allow people to understand their proposal, they are instead saying that it is a system of “premium support,” which is a term that no one understands.

This may help with a few pundits, but if the Republicans can’t keep their political opponents from pointing out that their plan actually does replace Medicare’s insurance with a voucher system, this silly charade will not buy them much. People know the difference between being handed a check for $8,000 and being told to go buy insurance and the current Medicare system, which covers most of the cost of most care.

The problem is that those pesky Democrats are actually talking about what the Republicans did. For instance, New Hampshire Representative Charlie Bass tried to keep television stations from running ads that said that he voted to end Medicare, but ran up against that other pesky little problem, the first amendment. In any case, Republicans are going to do their best to convince the public that they didn’t really do what they did: vote to end Medicare.

Baker offers the GOP a simple solution: reverse the vote. Since Republicans control the House, they could hold a vote tomorrow and repeal the budget plan. And they could probably convince Harry Reid to permit a vote that would allow Senate Republicans to do the same. As Baker says, “This is the sort of advice for which they would pay political consultants millions. But the Republicans can get it here for free. If they were smart, they would take it.”

Granny won’t die

Quality not quantity is  something we simply cannot tolerate in Medicare. But according to this story from today’s New York Times (via my Herald-Tribune), that’s just what’s coming your way under the new health care law.

For the first time, Medicare will soon track spending on millions of individual beneficiaries, reward hospitals that hold down costs and penalize those whose patients prove most expensive . . . A major goal of the new health care law, often overlooked, is to improve “the quality and efficiency of health care” by linking payments to the performance of health care providers. The new Medicare initiative, known as value-based purchasing, will redistribute money among more than 3,100 hospitals.

And surprise, surprise, the hospitals are all hot and bothered. Apparently we will all now die.

Charles N. Kahn III, president of the Federation of American Hospitals, which represents investor-owned companies, said . . .  the administration was “off track” in trying to hold hospitals accountable for what Medicare spends on patients two or three months after they leave the hospital. “That’s unrealistic, beyond the pale,” Kahn said.

. . . .For years, federal health officials have emphasized the importance of higher-quality care, mentioning efficiency as an afterthought. Now, alarmed at the trajectory of Medicare costs, they emphasize efficiency as an equally important goal.

This part of Medicare reform is aimed at reducing the growth of spending and cuts into the out of control “fee for service” culture that drives hospital costs. It’s been a goal of reformers for years,  if not decades. It starts next year.

Whatever the argument will be, expect one from the Republicans becauseany positive result interrupts their script and their script says Medicare must not be saved.

If you give in on this one Harry, you’ve lost me for good

Dear Senate Democrats:

The Republicans in the Senate in the voice of leader and turtle out of his shell Mitch McConnell have announced they will stop any vote on raising the debt ceiling unless they get their way with Medicare.

A very astute observer Josh Marshall listens to McConnell’s words and hears as self-serving a Senatorial statement as has been heard this session.

Republicans have boxed themselves into a political corner with their plan to end Medicare. It’s a big problem for them politically, and there’s no easy way out . . . [so] McConnell just announced he will not support raising the debt ceiling unless big Medicare cuts are part of the deal. Translation: Unless Democrats get us off the hook by agreeing to deep Medicare cuts (meaning Democrats can no longer attack Republicans for wanting to eliminate Medicare), then we’re going to force the federal government into default on its debt. . . . It’s as stark as that. And the decision for Democrats is equally stark: Do you negotiate with hostage-takers?

No you don’t Mr. Reid. No you don’t and don’t you dare. If Republicans actually would allow us to go into default and suffer all the world wide consequences of such an action, let them pay the price and forfeit all pretense of being part of this ‘governing’ thing.

Let them slink away with their Tea Party buddies to a State with a population smaller than Hartford and let them sit together late at night and plot how to take down those damn Americans. And all their damn American ideas. And all their damn beliefs that people matter.

The debt ceiling is important. More important though, is standing up to threats, threats as cavalier as McConnell’s.

So don’t you dare Mr. Reid.

A question for Mr. Ryan

(I’m sure this question can be posed with more clarity by someone else – I have a limited vocabulary when money comes into the conversation.)

About those people under 55 who be cut off from Medicare as we know it . . . . will they continue paying into Medicare until retirement? Is that money going to current recipients or is it going to go into one of those lockboxes and held for the use of those future happy retirees to use when they go shopping for policies in the private market? Or is that money going to finance the share that government supposedly will provide. If they’re going to keep paying into ‘Medicare’, will workers be paying at the same rate? So many questions. So few answers.

Go and git gunnin’ fer granny now!

Since we already have fully-Socialized government-run health care , I’m wondering – where are those death panels? I mean, like,  we have all our old folks already in a herd, so it wouldn’t be so hard you know . . .

Good morning

The Health Care ‘summit’ is over and we’re all still alive and breathing.  TV News has now begun to flail around for the next ‘story’. I did hear that George W. Bush gave a speech somewhere to someone recently;  speculation about what he said, what he will say next time and a flurry of questions he isn’t present to answer  – perhaps a candidate for the next story.

If not, there’s always the killer whale.

Because it’s altogether too much work to bother to report on the troops overseas, where it is the 140th day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.