Labor's Pains

Monday, August 20, 2012

From friend of blog Jerry: A look at health care from front lines (an original post)

There seems to be be concerted effort to break apart Medicare into two groups. One group is the one who is drawing upon Medicare currently, and who the Privatizers would like to say "don't worry nothing will change with regards to your plan"; and the younger one who will get a voucher which, in current climate of rising health care cost, will appear to be almost valueless. In some ways this can be seen as a way to break the younger and healthier of the heard; off from older and sicker. After these changes have gone through (on a purely selfish level) there will be reason for their kids to support their more sickly parents after they have just bee sold out by them. In this way the Privatizers will have just destroyed the institution Medicare in two easy steps to the detriment of everyone except the insurance companies. 

It is a similar plan to the one that was tried in 2004-2005 George W. Bush spearheaded a drive to wipe out Social Security. That one was dreamed up in a Republican think tank, as I remember reading about the plan before it was ever rolled out. The one thing that the Privatizers hadn't counted on was that these elders seemed to like Social Security and they just didn't want to sell out their children when it came to this benefit. From here I asked a person who is drawing from Medicare now what his thoughts on the institution were. Here's what he wrote:

Medicare, The view from here.

I was asked recently what I thought about changes that might be coming for Medicare. My first thoughts are that with all the talk about it going broke, there may be a need to change some parts of the program. I say may, because the changes may not need to be made to the program, just a new way of funding it. There’s an easy repair, but it involves drastically hiking taxes, so voters aren't hearing about it on the campaign trail. Under federal law, millionaires and billionaires get to dodge payroll taxes on a substantial percentage of their salaries. Employers and workers are charged payroll taxes on salaries up to $110,100 a year, meaning anything above that —a category that includes some of the middle class — is payroll-tax free. Simply lifting that cap would cover about 90 percent of the projected shortfall over 75 years, according to forecasts by the Social Security Administration ( I would recommend the same payroll tax rate applying to capital gains as well, otherwise the Mitts (Romney) of the country get off free)

At 78 years of age I am much more concerned as to how Medicare will be handled for my children, now averaging 49 years of age. I can see some perceived unfairness with the suggestion that radical change may come only to those under fifty-five years of age i.e., some type of voucher program, which until fully described, cannot be fully imagined. I assume it will come as a check which we are told we will buy insurance from various insurance companies. The companies will have a range of policies with various deductibles. I’m afraid I am at a loss to know how an effective voucher can work and I can see how this program could favor the insurance companies unless the vouchers were drawn with very tight specifications as to what range and cost of service they would pay for. (Think how many jobs this would create for the thousands of lobbyist the insurance companies would hire to design this voucher.)

What I can say about the current program is that it has seen me through, a hip replacement, a pulmonary embolism, prostate cancer, and bladder cancer. OMG, have I lived through all that. That said, all of the foregoing was covered as well by private insurance costing in excess of $450 per month. Imagine what Medicare would cost if a great many didn’t have supplemental insurance.

One thing I have become very much aware of is the vast amount of fraud now existing in the current program. Not millions but billions of dollars are being stolen from the taxpayers. A group was discovered in North Carolina in a twenty million dollar scam involving medical equipment. On 60 minutes an interviewer asked a jailed participant in the scam if they were jacking the price of the wheelchairs up and charging Medicare exorbitant prices for them. He answered promptly that no; there weren’t any wheelchairs involved, they were just billing for fictitious people or participants that were paid a small amount to allow their Medicare numbers to be used in the billing process. Asked if any of his friends could start this scam up again, he replied that it would not be a problem. Fraud prevention should be enhanced tremendously .

I think the Affordable Care Act should continued to be activated with the mandate included and then modified over a period of years as we see how it works. So much political activity has taken place already; surely we need to go awhile with what we have already voted on. It appears to be the Democrats, who I favor after forty years of voting for the Republicans, should be explaining how the Affordable Care Act incorporates Medicare and broadens it scope and longevity. This, to me, is not being adequately being explained. Perhaps we could put a White Board like Mitt and use fewer words like: Obamacare, Passed and Solvent …MittPaulCare, Who the Hell Knows? 

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