Archive for Thursday, December 10, 2009

Moran, Roberts oppose health care reform proposal to buy into Medicare at earlier age

December 10, 2009, 3:21 p.m. Updated December 10, 2009, 4:04 p.m.


U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts and U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran, both Kansas Republicans, strongly oppose Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s idea to expand Medicare as part of health care reform.

Under the proposal, Medicare — currently for those age 65 and up — would be offered to people who are at least 55 and wished to purchase coverage.

Roberts and Moran both issued press releases today — Dec. 10 — regarding the issue.

Sen. Pat Roberts

“I cannot believe anyone is seriously considering expanding Medicare to tens of millions of people aged 55 and over as a compromise to the government-run or so-called public option,” Roberts said.

He is a member of the Senate Committee on Finance, and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. He is co-chairman of the Senate Rural Health Caucus.

In the release, he said:

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts

“Government-run insurance plans currently control nearly half of the market,” Roberts said. “With the government’s power, they have the ability to set payment levels for doctors and hospitals and home health agencies and even hospices and all other health care providers, not based on the actual costs that those providers incur when treating patients, but instead based on whatever arbitrary spending target the budget crunching bean counters determine the government can afford.

“Medicare has been on an ever-shrinking path towards bankruptcy for years. The latest reports from the Medicare trustees say the Hospital Insurance trust fund will go broke within the next eight years. The program has $38 trillion in unfunded liabilities.

“And how has the government responded? By severely underpaying Medicare providers and denying Medicare patients’ claims.

“Medicare only pays doctors around 80 percent of their costs and hospitals even lower.

“Privately-insured Americans pay a ‘hidden tax’ of nearly $90 billion per year to make up for these underpayments, but even that hasn’t been enough to keep some providers in business and able to afford to accept Medicare patients.”

U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran

“I am concerned that the Majority Leader’s 11th-hour so-called ‘compromise’ would be a dramatic step toward a single-payer, one-size-fits-all, government-run health care system for our country,” Moran said. “I am strongly opposed to this irresponsible idea.

Moran is chairman of the House Rural Health Care Coalition and co-founder of the Congressional Community Pharmacy Coalition.

He went on to say in the press release:

“Although the details of this back room deal are still up in the air, we do know the plan includes an option for uninsured individuals between the ages of 55 and 64 to purchase health coverage under Medicare. Folks who could not afford this ‘buy-in’ would be given government subsidies to do so.

U.S. Congressman Jerry Moran

U.S. Congressman Jerry Moran

“This idea fails to consider the significant consequences that such a dramatic expansion of Medicare will have on our health care system.

“Under this idea, near seniors, especially those with serious health problems, will flock to Medicare for health coverage. There is no doubt that we need to find ways for these individuals to have access to affordable, quality health coverage and for them to keep their current coverage if they wish.

“But, expanding Medicare, a program that is expected to go bankrupt in 2017, in this manner will explode premium costs for all beneficiaries and force the government to turn to the taxpayer for help. Once near seniors enter this system, they are not likely to be pushed out and the pressure will increase to cover more people on the government rolls. This idea could be a giant step toward single-payer socialized health care in our country.

“Additionally, it is presumed that this expanded program would pay hospitals, doctors and nurses Medicare rates, which are already drastically diminished. This could cause Kansas hospitals to close their doors and doctors to either stop seeing Kansas seniors or close their practices altogether.”


Phillbert 8 years, 6 months ago

Wow, another Republican press release posted verbatim - the second of the afternoon.

I know the LJW recently imposed salary cuts, but that doesn't mean you get to stop "reporting" and just start hitting cut-and-paste.

Bob_Keeshan 8 years, 6 months ago

Why is 'compromise' in quotations in this headline?

frank mcguinness 8 years, 6 months ago

What the fudge is this?????

Does the fricking Lawrence Urinal World have any standards anymore???

This is the second copy and paste article from a republican website today.

Karrey Britt should be fired immediatly and flogged for ever thinking she has any journalistic abilities.

And whatever internet editor that allowed this 2nd piece of partisan hackery should leave with her too.

But I guess we all know the truth. Dolph is short for Adolph so it kinda makes sense.

frank mcguinness 8 years, 6 months ago

Bob_Keeshan (Anonymous) says…

Why is 'compromise' in quotations in this headline?

It's not even quotations its apostrophes.

This internet rag is cooked. This is utterly hilarious.

Like forest says "Stupid is as Stupid does"

frank mcguinness 8 years, 6 months ago

Please ignore my ignorance in the previous post regarding apostrophes. The rest is still relevant.

thelonious 8 years, 6 months ago

Personally, I think allowing buy-in to Medicare at 55 is a great idea - as a 47 year-old male in good health, I would only have to make it 8 more years without a serious health problem, and I would sleep well at night knowing that I will have access to SOME kind of health insurance. Medicare has treated my parents (both over 65) well. If it were me, I'd just expand Medicare eligibility to 55, but I'll take the buy-in option - it beats losing a job at 58, having a prior health condition, and having nowhere to turn for affordable health insurance.

It's time we fix the problem of adults under 65 being unable to get insurance, and the group between 55 and 64 have particular problems becuase of their age. Our country can afford to do this - we rebuilt Europe & Japan after WWII, outspent the Soviets to "win" the Cold War, and spent trillions on a "misguided" adventure in Iraq. If we can do that, we can make sure that all of our citizens have access to health insurance that provides for basic medical services when they get injured or sick. Anything less would be, dare I say, un-christian.

Clark Coan 8 years, 6 months ago

Then they will gradually expand it. Like 40-54. Then we'll end up with a single-payer plan.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 6 months ago

"Under the proposal, Medicare — currently for those age 65 and up — would be offered to people who are at least 55..."

Don't be fooled. 55 would soon become 45. In no time we would all be under the tyranny of a command-and-control government health care regime.




Karrey Britt 8 years, 6 months ago

I am posting the press releases to let people know how our Kansas representatives are going to vote when it comes to health care reform. If you don't like what they have to say, then call them. I talk with people almost on a daily basis who have lousy health care, so I know they care.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 6 months ago

National Health Insurance does not remove competition from the actual health care industry. It will be alive and well. Profits will be based on customer service and clinic performance based on the clients experience. This is my perception of competition.

The nations consumers could have excellent National Health insurance for all.if one would remove: elected officials as shareholders special interest campaign funding *the insurance industry recklessly spending health care dollars to bribe votes

Remember it is the most expensive medical insurance in the world that denies care and/or cancels coverage after taking ones money for years and years. National Health Insurance for All would not allow such arrogance.

BTW thanks Karrey for bringing this to voters attention.

FYI all National Health Insurance and the public option are two very different animals. National Health Insurance groups will continue to press the issue.

Jack Hope III 8 years, 6 months ago

I would love a single payer system. In my opinion the people running my health care should not be buying yachts because I get sick.

Guess what, unless you die in an accident, you are going to get sick. It's not like you can choose to not need health care some day.

Instead of getting a raise this year at my job, my employer will be using that money the hike of 13% the health insurance companies are demanding this year. Is this the only industry not suffering during this economic downturn? Most other industries are lowering prices to keep business.

Thankfully I have a job so I can actually go to the doctor without declaring bankruptcy. Meanwhile, the GOP is convincing Americans that -- while European nations and Canada can have health care for all of their citizens -- the USA can not figure out a way to do it.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 6 months ago

Recommendation #1: Drop the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 55. This should be an expansion of traditional Medicare, not a new program. Gradually, over several years, drop the age decade by decade, until everyone is covered by Medicare. Costs: Obviously, this would increase Medicare costs, but it would help decrease costs to the health system as a whole, because Medicare is so much more efficient (overhead of about 3% vs. 20% for private insurance). And it’s a better program, because it ensures that everyone has access to a uniform package of benefits.

Recommendation #2: Increase Medicare fees for primary care doctors and reduce them for procedure-oriented specialists. Specialists such as cardiologists and gastroenterologists are now excessively rewarded for doing tests and procedures, many of which, in the opinion of experts, are not medically indicated. Not surprisingly, we have too many specialists, and they perform too many tests and procedures. Costs: This would greatly reduce costs to Medicare, and the reform would almost certainly be adopted throughout the wider health system.

Recommendation #3: Medicare should monitor doctors’ practice patterns for evidence of excess, and gradually reduce fees of doctors who habitually order significantly more tests and procedures than the average for the specialty. Costs: Again, this would greatly reduce costs, and probably be widely adopted.

Recommendation #4: Provide generous subsidies to medical students entering primary care, with higher subsidies for those who practice in underserved areas of the country for at least two years. Costs: This initial, rather modest investment in ending our shortage of primary care doctors would have long-term benefits, in terms of both costs and quality of care.

Recommendation #5: Repeal the provision of the Medicare drug benefit that prohibits Medicare from negotiating with drug companies for lower prices. (The House bill calls for this.) That prohibition has been a bonanza for the pharmaceutical industry. For negotiations to be meaningful, there must be a list (formulary) of drugs deemed cost-effective. This is how the Veterans Affairs System obtains some of the lowest drug prices of any insurer in the country. Costs: If Medicare paid the same prices as the Veterans Affairs System, its expenditures on brand-name drugs would be a small fraction of what they are now.

Is the House bill better than nothing? I don’t think so. It simply throws more money into a dysfunctional and unsustainable system, with only a few improvements at the edges, and it augments the central role of the investor-owned insurance industry. I would rather see us do nothing now, and have a better chance of trying again later and then doing it right.

By Marcia Angell, M.D. for Huffington Post.

Jack Hope III 8 years, 6 months ago

Oh, and if I don't like the government, I can vote against it. I have no way to vote out the corporate jerks raising my health care premiums. Isn't that is taxation without representation.

If you don't pay your taxes, the government takes all your stuff.

If you get sick and don't pay your bills, you declare bankruptcy and lose all of your stuff. Remember, you WILL get sick, and the medical industry WILL take your money.

Yes, I am simplifying here, but come on people.

Phillbert 8 years, 6 months ago


While I appreciate your stated motive and the fact that you have presented it here, these press releases do more than just say they will vote against a bill. They provide a litany of claims that may or may not be true -- claims one would expect a news organization to analyze and inform its readers about the truthfulness of, not to simply repeat them as-is (thereby lending credibility to them.)

If I want to get press releases from these elected officials, I'll sign up for their newsletters. The Journal-World is supposed to be a newspaper, not an RSS feed.

feeble 8 years, 6 months ago

News would be a Kansas Senator voting with Reid on HCR. We all know that Kansas Republicans oppose current HCR legislation, this is a non-story.

Reprinting a press release, verbatim, is not news.

jayhawklawrence 8 years, 6 months ago

I think what the Republicans should have said instead of using the fear and blame game is that the problem with a National Health Care Plan is that you end up with a taxpayer funded and government managed company competing with private businesses. This breaks a lot of rules of economics meaning there are going to be unpleasant side effects.

This is like when you have to take a prescription drug to remedy an illness but you might get sick to your stomach while taking it.

I am not saying I am against it. It may be necessary to take the medicine but I don't want to have to take it forever.

The problem is the cost increases that we are getting hit with every year and the inability of our political leaders to fix the problem. The Republicans think they have better "economists" than the Democrats but they are sucking from the same bag of wind as the Democrats. It's all about the money and the games they love to play.

I think the American people deserve a best effort at a National Health Care plan without all the BS and scare tactics. We are at the point where the average American is struggling to survive.

If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem.

snoozey 8 years, 6 months ago

Buying into medicare at 55 is great thing for patients but probably a bad thing for politocos owned by the health care insurance lobby to endorse ;-O

feeble 8 years, 6 months ago

ditto on the RSS feed comment. This does not deserve more than a paragraph and a link to the source. nmo I would feel the same way if you were reposting Pelosi's or Reid's press releases.

The public expects the Media to be the Fourth Estate, not just the mouthpiece of the other three.

frank mcguinness 8 years, 6 months ago

Merrill, I like your posts generally but when you post something from it's like Tom Shewmon posting something from newsmax. It reeks of bias.

And to ol Karrey Britt, you would have to have been born yesterday to not know how our senators and reps here in Kansas feel about the health care debate. Furthermore, aside from my ignorance in punctuation, I could have written the copy paste article you posted.

Bob_Keeshan 8 years, 6 months ago

I don't think Ms. Britt's attempt to defend the posting of this propaganda explains why the headline continues to say 'compromise'.

Under what scenario would the Lawrence Journal-World deem the term compromise did not require quotation marks?

This entire episode is laughable. This isn't about people having "lousy health care," it is about publishing propaganda under the auspices of legitimate reporting.

Get real, Ms. Britt.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 6 months ago

kbritt and sandrat,

You place far too much faith in our government. This government you want micro-managing our health care is the same government that unnecessarily attacked Iraq, screwed up Hurricane Katrina cleanup and wasted trillions on "stimulus." It's also the same government that is mismanaging Medicare Social Security into certain bankruptcy.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 6 months ago

24/7 Pro Business Pro Consumer Health Care Coverage! YES!

National Health Insurance does not remove competition from the actual health care industry. It will be alive and well. Profits will be based on customer service and clinic performance based on the clients experience. This is my perception of competition.

Let ME pay for National Health Insurance with MY tax dollars for MY National Health insurance.

Here's the deal. National Health Insurance is not a free ride and never will be perhaps with few exceptions.

You see my tax dollars will pay for my portion therefore no one else would be paying for MY National Health Insurance coverage. A 3.3% payroll tax is doable.

However if you listen to the republican party NOT and Max Baucus you would be led to believe that my tax dollars are not my tax dollars. How can that be?

The fact that National Health Insurance would come from the rather substantial tax dollar cookie jars simply means that no monthly or weekly deductions would come out of my pay check per se..

Since federal, state, and local governments collect trillions in taxes of all kinds—income, sales, property, corporate etc etc this is how medical bills would be paid as it is now.

You see as we speak the government tax dollars support medical insurance payments to the tune of at least $1.2 trillion which is quite a gravy train I'd say. Next year this will increase by changing nothing and not passing the National Health Insurance Act.

In essence MY tax dollar amount to pay MY portion of National Health Insurance would be about $2700 annually for the entire family.

What coverage would this buy the family:

long term care such that cancer demands prescription drugs hospital surgical outpatient services primary and preventive care emergency services dental mental health home health physical therapy rehabilitation (including for substance abuse) vision care hearing services including hearing aids chiropractic durable medical equipment * palliative care

A good deal that would free up more expendable cash to be spent elsewhere thus creating new jobs. Things like birthdays,christmas,home improvements,buying a home or investments would benefit.

Social Security and Medicare are two very smart insurance plans.

frank mcguinness 8 years, 6 months ago

No STRS the government that did this "same government that unnecessarily attacked Iraq, screwed up Hurricane Katrina cleanup and wasted trillions on “stimulus.” " Is the government you chose, ran by the Idiot you chose.

Bob_Keeshan 8 years, 6 months ago

Note to STRS - government is only as good as its management.

The government you have such disdain for is currently under new management.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 6 months ago

The point, rooster, is that past, present and future administrations aren't even capable of competence, let alone able to give us everything we think we want.

Instead, it's better to trust in individuals, families, small businesses, churches and charities to lead our nation to prosperity.

Bob_Keeshan 8 years, 6 months ago

Introduction to Government, as taught to all 9th graders in the state of Kansas, begins by explaining what "government" is.

Government is the civil approach to maintaining society as chosen by individuals, families, small businesses, etc.

The myth propagated by those like STRS is that government is a stand alone being, separate from the society that has selected it. That shows either a taste for anarchy or a distaste for that society.

Which is it, STRS - do you support anarchy or do you just hate the individuals, families, small businesses, etc. that have chosen to be governed and have created our system of government?

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 6 months ago


I've waded through your unnecessary and caustic sarcasm, and it seems my contention with you lies within your "approach to maintaining society," to use your term.

Based on what I can gather from your collected posts, I've concluded that you have a frightening vision for every man, woman and child which, unfortunately, includes you and an ever-expanding government bureaucracy controlling almost every aspect of our lives.

In contrast, others of us see an important role for a limited, restrained government helping society accomplish only that which individuals, charities and private enterprise cannot achieve for themselves.

LloydDobbler 8 years, 6 months ago

The party of "NO" strikes again. I guess if you are an old white guy with a fat bank account, affordable healthcare isn't really that important to you.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 6 months ago

The health care plans of Moran,Tihart,Brownback and Roberts cost we taxpayers plenty. 2010 will see a large increase to about $18,310 each.

Insuring only the elected officials cost taxpayers $11,000,000. National Health Insurance could reduce that cost to about $3,000,000.

Is protecting the most expensive medical insurance in the world good for business? No it is anti business and anti new jobs and anti industry.

Is protecting the most expensive medical insurance in the world good for keeping the cost of of just about everything we buy in reasonable check? Absolutely not it increases our cost of living across the board just like high dollar gasoline.

Did we elect people to office to protect the most expensive medical insurance in the world from a more reasonable and fiscally responsible insurance program? No way jose' That is corrupt.

Did we send elected officials to Washington to accept special interest campaign money from the most expensive medical insurance program in the world? Heck NO that increases the cost of insurance!

Richard Heckler 8 years, 6 months ago

The party of NO will oppose any democrat proposal that has any impact on new job growth. They are simply against any improvement in our overall quality of life because it ruins their opportunity to wreck the economy one more time.... twice was not enough.

National Health Insurance and the Public Option are two very different animals believe me.

Is the public option better than nothing?

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