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Letters to the Editor

Medicare plan

December 18, 2009

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To the editor:

Expanding the age requirements for Medicare and making it much more widely available to American citizens is one of the smartest of all the proposed avenues to provide health care for America. Please support this important initiative. Medicare is one of the best-run of our government programs and they already know how to do health care. Expand their staffs, create more jobs and give more of Medicare’s excellent health care to more Americans. Not a flawless plan, but certainly a workable one that will provide good care for millions more Americans than are currently covered.

Comments

Brent Garner 5 years ago

Ahhh, but the rub is that Medicare, like Social Security, is going broke. Medicare trustees have stated that Medicare will be broke by 2017. At that point, taxes must be raised to fund the program. Also, practically every year Medicare participants see some aspect of Medicare degraded: premium increase, deductible increase, coverages denied or restricted. Additionally, Medicare, like Medicaid, doesn't pay market value for services rendered. Eventually, if you expand Medicare, you will see that doctors either limit the number of Medicare patients they see due to them losing money on such patients, and/or you will see fewer doctors as the compensation for doctors declines. Oh, and let's not forget the annual exercise Congress goes through in which they vote to reduce the compensation paid doctors and hospitals under Medicare. Yes indeed, sounds like a "well run program" to me.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

What you fail to mention, bk, is that the same pressures that are creating a potential funding shortfall for Medicare, namely rising medical costs, will also affect private insurers.

Private insurers have the option of raising premiums, which they are doing, which is why if the Party of No gets their way, and the status quo remains and nothing is done to reform healthcare (not just healthcare insurance,) the ranks of the uninsured is poised to explode.

OK, bk, you can go back to rearranging the deck chairs.

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years ago

Better yet, give Americans true health care choice by allowing them to opt out of Medicare (and Social Security).

grammaddy 5 years ago

Medicare, gay marriage, and free abortions for all!

notajayhawk 5 years ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says…

"Private insurers have the option of raising premiums, which they are doing, which is why if the Party of No gets their way, and the status quo remains and nothing is done to reform healthcare (not just healthcare insurance,) the ranks of the uninsured is poised to explode."

The preceding mindless propaganda was brought to you by Herr Klowne, your local Marxist representative from the Party of Know-nothing.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Obviously, nota, you're still looking for a regimen of therapy that effectively addresses your anger issues.

seriouscat 5 years ago

Gee, do you think the big boost in savings that insurance companies will enjoy when the sickest, oldest, and therefore most expensive part of their customer base moves off of their rolls and on to Medicare will be passed on to the rest of us in the form of lower premiums?

notajayhawk 5 years ago

Hardly angry, boohoozo - your posts are an endless source of amusement.

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years ago

seriouscat,

It's called profit, and it's nothing to be feared or hated. In fact, that's when you hope your 401k holds a little insurance company stock.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Social Security is not going broke. All congress must do is replace the $2.73 trillion that they borrow from US yes you and me. OR the government can revert back to the original pay as you go plan.

http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0505orr.html

Medicare is quite efficient. It only becomes broke or inefficient if government legislators want it that way.

Privatized medical insurance sucks we already know that so dump it in favor of National Heath Insurance.

BTW National Health Insurance and the public option are two very different animals. I DO NOT support the public option for a variety of reasons. Neither republicans nor too damn many democrats have put forth the best effort for the country. Try facade if you will. Rep Kucinich and Sen. Sanders are the ones with their heads on straight.

seriouscat 5 years ago

STRS, I am well aware of the fact that Atlas Shrugged is your bible, but I'm talking about the current health care bill, not capitalism good vs. communism bad.

Try taking off your monopoly monocle for once and evaluate legislation based upon the actual contents of the bill itself. Pretend it's a Kandinsky painting, or something.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Why go for National Health Insurance? 3 reasons to support the letter writers suggestions.

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

Here is my program for real reform:

Well, the House health reform bill — known to Republicans as the Government Takeover — finally passed after one of Congress’s longer, less enlightening debates. Two stalwarts of the single-payer movement split their votes; John Conyers voted for it; Dennis Kucinich against. Kucinich was right.

Conservative rhetoric notwithstanding, the House bill is not a “government takeover.” I wish it were. Instead, it enshrines and subsidizes the “takeover” by the investor-owned insurance industry that occurred after the failure of the Clinton reform effort in 1994. To be sure, the bill has a few good provisions (expansion of Medicaid, for example), but they are marginal.

The House bill would take money out of Medicare, and divert it to the private sector and, to some extent, to Medicaid. The remaining costs of the legislation would be paid for by taxes on the wealthy. But although the bill might pay for itself, it does nothing to solve the problem of runaway inflation in the system as a whole. It’s a shell game in which money is moved from one part of our fragmented system to another.

Con’t: http://www.healthcare-now.org/is-the-house-health-care-bill-better-than-nothing/

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Number 2

  1. Healthcare-NOW! Members Oppose Current Version of Congressional Health Bill

Over 125 Healthcare-NOW! members at our 2009 strategy conference voted to oppose the current Congressional version of health insurance reform legislation. While we recognize that many of our allies and supporters may disagree about specific aspects of the pending legislation, we believe that, taken as a whole, it is not worthy of our support. In fact, most of the so-called reforms contained in the bills have already been tried and proven to be a failure at the state level in Massachusetts.

Instead, we should act based on evidence of what works. Medicare, with its lower administrative costs and higher rates of satisfaction, remains the “gold standard” for real healthcare reform.

We anticipated the healthcare debate this year would focus on the true stakeholders: patients and those who care for them. But improved Medicare for All (single-payer) was pushed off the table, by Congress and the private health industry, preventing the American people from learning how access to quality, universal care can be financed without increasing cost to the public.

http://www.healthcare-now.org/healthcare-now-members-oppose-current-version-of-congressional-health-bill/

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Number 3

Senate Tweaks Away YOUR Health Care

By Donna Smith CommonDreams, December 11, 2009

As my grandmother used to say, “I was born on a weekend but not last weekend.” The latest insult to Americans hungry for a bit of healthcare justice for all comes from the news that the Senate health bill now allows insurance companies to place annual limits on payments for some catastrophic illnesses, like cancer.

Surprise, surprise, surprise. Another day. Another lie uncovered in the process. Another piece of this reform bill that favors the for-profit health insurance industry.

Associated Press' Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, " [The] health care loophole would allow coverage limits:" A loophole in the Senate health care bill would let insurers place annual dollar limits on medical care for people struggling with costly illnesses such as cancer, prompting a rebuke from patient advocates.

http://www.pnhp.org/news/2009/december/senate-tweaks-away-your-healthcare

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/12/11-7

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

East Otis, Mass. - The less some Americans know, the more strident and voluble they become. Take socialism. The wailing about it over healthcare reform proves my proposition.

Republicans apparently don't know that it was their beloved President Theodore Roosevelt who in 1912 proposed national health insurance for all.

As a foreign correspondent, I lived in Britain, Germany, Israel, and the Soviet Union and did not discover any sapping of a nation's vital essences because the public enjoyed publicly funded national health insurance.

As a US citizen who lived more than two decades abroad, I found socialized national health insurance programs are often more compassionate and charitable than what I have seen with profit-driven, private insurance companies in the United States.

Some years ago my former wife took my sons on a driving tour of Britain and became involved in an accident. My elder son had a badly broken leg and was taken to a hospital for six weeks until his leg healed. Although I didn't live in Britain at the time, the British National Insurance system paid all his hospital and doctor bills. When I offered to reimburse the hospital, the British charitably declined and only charged me $35 for a crutch my son used to hobble aboard a plane home to America.

A decade ago, a federal report shocked the nation by suggesting that our modern medical system was one of the leading causes of death in America. It called for cutting the rates of medical mistakes in half within five years. But it's only gotten worse. Today, preventable medical injuries kill some 200,000 Americans each year.

Earlier this year, a friend entered a suburban Chicago hospital to have a gall bladder removed. The surgeon was scheduled to go on vacation immediately after finishing the operation. In the process of making a large incision, the doctor unknowingly nicked the lower intestine and punctured the aorta. My friend nearly bled to death before the surgeon discovered his error.

Where is the statistical evidence that private healthcare outperforms national health insurance programs? The United States ranks 37th on health outcomes, according to the World Health Organization, and it has one of the highest infant mortality rates among developed countries, suggesting that socialized medicine may afford better patient care in some situations.

Opponents of the White House healthcare plans deliberately distort the extent of government involvement in such programs, when the only thing to be "socialized" was the so-called public option health insurance plan – and that may be dropped. Doctors and hospitals would remain private. Critics appear to have deliberately polarized public opinion to scuttle President Obama's initiatives.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0916/p09s02-coop.html

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Health insurers have forced consumers to pay billions of dollars in medical bills that the insurers themselves should have paid, according to a report released yesterday by the staff of the Senate Commerce Committee. This Story

The report was part of a multi-pronged assault on the credibility of private insurers by Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.). It came at a time when Rockefeller, President Obama and others are seeking to offer a public alternative to private health plans as part of broad health-care reform legislation. Health insurers are doing everything they can to block the public option.

At a committee hearing yesterday, three health-care specialists testified that insurers go to great lengths to avoid responsibility for sick people, use deliberately incomprehensible documents to mislead consumers about their benefits, and sell "junk" policies that do not cover needed care. Rockefeller said he was exploring "why consumers get such a raw deal from their insurance companies."

The star witness at the hearing was a former public relations executive for major health insurers whose testimony boiled down to this: Don't trust the insurers.

"The industry and its backers are using fear tactics, as they did in 1994, to tar a transparent and accountable -- publicly accountable -- health-care option," said Wendell Potter, who until early last year was vice president for corporate communications at the big insurer Cigna.

Potter said he worries "that the industry's charm offensive, which is the most visible part of duplicitous and well-financed PR and lobbying campaigns, may well shape reform in a way that benefits Wall Street far more than average Americans."

Insurers make paperwork confusing because "they realize that people will just simply give up and not pursue it" if they think they have been shortchanged, Potter said.

More on this story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/24/AR2009062401636.html

Flap Doodle 5 years ago

The linkbot has woken. Fear his mad copy/paste skillz!

notajayhawk 5 years ago

Quick turnaround time, mertle. At 9:45 am you do NOT support the public option. At 3:04 pm you whine all about how the big, bad insurance companies destroyed the public option.

"Republicans apparently don't know that it was their beloved President Theodore Roosevelt who in 1912 proposed national health insurance for all."

Uh, yeah. 'Cause the most often referenced paragon of conservative values I see mentioned in these threads over the years has been Teddy.

"Medicare is quite efficient."

Speaking of propagating lies, oh great merrill-bot, why do you keep trying to sell that line of BS? Medicare is not efficient, it's only because 1) most of their costs are divided up and hidden in the budgets of other agencies, and 2) that 'efficiency' you mention is measured as a percentage of claims paid and Medicare tends to pay out very big claims (their actual per-person administrative costs are higher than private insurers), that they LOOK more efficient (at least, they look that way to the true-believer kool-aid drinkers and those of very limited capacity for original thought and analysis - which of those are you, merrill?).

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

"Wednesday, for the first time in American history, the US Senate was to debate and vote on single-payer healthcare. Sen. Bernie Sanders submitted an amendment to the Senate health bill that would have expanded Medicare to everyone.

But after a stall-tactic by Senate Republicans, requiring that the full 700-page amendment to be read, and, presumably, pressure from Senate Democrats, Sen. Sanders withdrew his single-payer amendment.

The moment Sen. Sanders withdrew his amendment, writers were quick to declare that single-payer healthcare is dead.

Mainstream liberals and Democrats are even starting to revolt against a health bill that's looking more like a bailout of the private health insurance industry, than expanding and improving coverage to everyone. Soon, they'll realize we need a movement for real reform, not incremental reform.

After all, Medicare for all is inevitable. A healthcare system, with private, for-profit insurance in the mix, is fundamentally unsustainable and will collapse. Sen. Sanders said this in his speech to the Senate after he withdrew his amendment:

"At the end of the day -- not this year, not next year, but sometime in the future -- this country will come to understand that if we are going to provide comprehensive quality care to all of our people, the only way we will do that is through a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system."

We (single-payer advocates) will keep the movement alive. We will continue to educate everyone about American's healthcare crisis. We will continue to advocate for the single-payer solution to this crisis.

If we learned anything about healthcare reform this time around, it's that our movement needs to grow so that Congress has no choice but to pass Medicare for all. Why is it that conservatives in Canada, and other countries with national health insurance, wouldn't dare mess with their national health systems? Because the vast majority of the people would rise up and stop them.

We saw this in our own country as we watched, throughout the whole debate, people over 65 fiercely defend Medicare - whether or not they knew it was "government run." We need that intense support from everyone, not just people over 65, before we can win. We know that everyone else would rise to its defense just as fervently if they were enrolled in Medicare. That's why providing Medicare to everyone 55 and over was so abruptly cut out of the Senate discussion.

Single-payer healthcare is not dead in America. Healthcare-NOW!, along with all of our single-payer allies, will continue to organize, educate, fight for single-payer candidates, and stand up until one of the most basic of human rights is available to all. After the farce we're all witnessing in Congress is over, we are only going to get stronger.

We will make history."

http://www.healthcare-now.org/

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