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Letters to the Editor

Medicare for all

February 2, 2010

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To the editor:

Every other developed country has medical care for all of its citizens regardless of age or income. Many of them modeled their single-payer health care systems after the U.S. Medicare system. For the United States to compete in the global market, we must not have employers burdened with for-profit health insurance that is too expensive and ineffective. If we want every U.S. citizen to have good, affordable, nondiscriminatory health care, and if we want to save the middle class in our country, and if we want to restore our economy, there is only one logical choice, and its effectiveness has been proven over and over again around the world: single-payer primary health care, i.e. Medicare for all.

Comments

Brent Garner 4 years, 10 months ago

I am sorry, but I do not consider Medicare an effective system. Almost every year the government makes an adjustment to Medicare: raising the Part A premium, or raising the Part A deductible, or reducing what they will pay doctors and hospitals. That latter one is why recently the Mayo Clinic in Arizona has decided it will no longer take such patients. The payments made by the government do not cover the cost of providing the care. So, sorry, I, for one, do not hold Medicare as an effective model.

grammaddy 4 years, 10 months ago

This is why the cost needs to come down. Too much profit is being made by the health insurance people.And the only way to do that is to bring Medicare to all. There can always be improvements to the system.

Flap Doodle 4 years, 10 months ago

Speaking of the wonderful health care in other countries: “Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams is set to undergo heart surgery this week in the United States. CBC News confirmed Monday that Williams, 60, left the province earlier in the day and will have surgery later in the week. The premier's office provided few details, beyond confirming that he would have heart surgery and saying that it was not necessarily a routine procedure. Deputy Premier Kathy Dunderdale is scheduled to hold a news conference Tuesday morning. She's expected to provide more details about Williams's condition, as well as how the provincial government will function during his absence. CBC reporter David Cochrane said Williams appeared to be in good health recently. He described the premier as "fairly active," playing pick-up hockey at least once a week when work permits.” http://cbc.qwapi.com/site?t=xncRD1Eb8xb6h0Q92gtohw&sid=cbc

Richard Heckler 4 years, 10 months ago

IMPROVED Medicare Health Insurance = Pro Business and Pro Consumer Health insurance! YES!

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

Here's the deal. IMPROVED Medicare 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 IMPROVED Medicare 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 IMPROVED Medicare Health Insurance would be paid 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 the medical insurance industry to the tune of at least $1.2 trillion a year which is quite a gravy train I'd say. Next year this will increase by changing nothing and not passing the IMPROVED Medicare Health Insurance Act.

In essence it is MY tax dollars that will pay MY portion of IMPROVED Medicare Health Insurance.

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

IMPROVED Medicare Health Insurance is an extraordinary deal that would free up more expendable cash to be spent elsewhere thus creating new jobs. Things like birthdays,christmas,home improvements,taking better care of our lovers and other personal investments could benefit.

Social Security and Medicare are two very smart insurance plans

SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 10 months ago

"...we must not have employers burdened with for-profit health insurance..."

Would Mr. Hershey also say that employers should not be burdened with for-profit phone companies? How about for-profit consulting firms? Maybe he'd like to eliminate for-profit accountants.

Following Mr. Hershey's logic, any business that makes any sort of profit off of anyone should immediately be converted into a government-run agency.

notajayhawk 4 years, 10 months ago

grammaddy (Anonymous) says…

"This is why the cost needs to come down."

Good start ...

"Too much profit is being made by the health insurance people."

Ooh, fumble ...

Yeah, grammy, it's always those big, baaaaad insurance companies' fault.

"And the only way to do that is to bring Medicare to all."

And the other side recovers and runs in for a touchdown ...

Yep, there's no possible solution to any problem except putting the government in charge. After all, their track record is SO good ...

"There can always be improvements to the system."

Here's an idea - I know, it's silly - how about we make the improvements first and have Medicare demonstrate it can work before turning anything else over to them?

notajayhawk 4 years, 10 months ago

1) Medicare's per-person administrative costs are higher than private insurers. The only reasons their administrative costs appear low are that a) they're reported as a percentage of claims, and their claims tend to be very large; b) they don't report all costs - e.g., they don't report the cost of collecting taxes as a 'cost of capital'; c) many of their costs are hidden in the budgets of other agencies.

2) As someone mentioned above, more and more providers are refusing to take Medicare patients. They've been promised increases in their reimbursement rates so many times they've stopped believing it will ever happen. And they can't afford to keep losing money on government-funded patients.

3) There are an awful lot of services and providers that Medicare won't pay for anyway. Try looking into it - before you end up dependent on it.

4) Despite the facts that their reimbursement rates are so low and they don't cover many services, Medicare is going broke - some estimates predict that will be within seven years. Is that the fault of the baby boomers? No, it's politicians who regularly raided the fund instead of the politically unappealing alternative of raising taxes.

5) For those of you who haven't been keeping up with current events: Do you really want what's happening with Medicaid all over the country as your model for healthcare-for-all? What happens when the political climate changes and those controlling your healthcare shift priorities (again), gutting the healthcare funds to the bone? What happens in times of recession (like now, for instance), when the tax dollars simply dry up (especially when there are mandated expenses to be covered elsewhere in the budget)?


SettingTheRecordStraight (Anonymous) says…

"Following Mr. Hershey's logic, any business that makes any sort of profit off of anyone should immediately be converted into a government-run agency."

Duh.

Didn't you notice he lives in Larryville?

Kirk Larson 4 years, 10 months ago

What's the single biggest input in the price of a car? The cost of workers' health care. Why can't our big industries compete with foreign companies? Their competitors have nationalized health care. Why is the person with the next great business idea stuck in their dead end job? They can't afford to lose their health care. What's the single greatest cause of foreclosure and personal bankruptcy? Health care costs.

Health care reform to save our economy!

SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 10 months ago

Cappy,

And to remove our freedom, dignity, independence, income and responsibility.

Kirk Larson 4 years, 10 months ago

GettingTheRecordBent, What? How? You paranoid right wingers throw out nonsense like that with no evidence or justification. The rest of the industrialized, Western, capitalist world has some kind public or nationalized health care program. They spend far less and have similar or better outcomes and they are not commie zombie automatons. You are just too full of fear to consider that America needs to consider other, better options.

lindseydoyle 4 years, 10 months ago

If we had a government that was of, by and for the people it would be do-able. We do not. Just look at the latest ruling by the Supremes that said that corporations are people and that money is speech. We would have to reform our political system before we reform our health care. Not gonna happen.

georgiahawk 4 years, 10 months ago

Liberty One, lets deregulate everything! I see no need for anybody to be regulated, we can trust everybody to do the right thing! It has been proven over and over again that people with power can be trusted. Of course there are vague memories of this not being true, but I am sure that what I was told was wrong, especially since it does not fit in with your "reality". From now on I will make a point of asking you to tell us the "real" facts. Innovation and invention pretty much stopped completely around 19-aught something, I promise I am not going to open my eyes, so I am sure you are right! I don't understand how someone so right can always be standing by himself!

georgiahawk 4 years, 10 months ago

Consumer1, that was just plain stupid! Lets deny everyone based on what happened to you last night! Get a grip!

farmerjane 4 years, 10 months ago

consumer1, I would like to see you look my 13 year old son with in the face and tell him why you think his asthma makes him unworthy of receiving health care in America. You have no idea what the kid in your emergency room's real situation was. All the fancy boots and etc. are far, far less expensive than health insurance premiums and medicaid is based on income, assets etc. Now just for the sake of argument, let's say this person was a true welfare bum, scamming the system. That tells me not at all why millions of your fellow Americans should go without insurance. In my state, if you are self employed (or laid off) and have preexisting conditions, you have one and only one option. That is to buy into a state insurance pool. Many states don't even offer that option. In order to be on it we will have to pay $867 per month in premiums to a private insurance company contracted with the state. We do not yet know if our business will make enough to make those payments possible, and if we were just laid off (more than 20 percent unemployment right now in my county) we obviously could not. According to your argument, my son would thus not deserve to receive health care for chronic conditions. AT all. You make me sick. Your lack of compassion makes you unfit for the work that you do. What you deserve is to be laid off, to go without insurance and to develop a chronic condition like cancer for which you will not be able to afford treatment. Then you will know what it's like to be an American. However, I do not wish that for you. I could not wish it for any one. I believe in Medicare for All. It's cheaper and fairer, and instead of going around judging which of our neighbors deserve to live, or letting profit-based insurance companies decide (they will choose against the poor and sick, by definition), we should love our neighbors and wish for them the standard of life that Western Europe and Canada offer them.

notajayhawk 4 years, 10 months ago

Cappy (Anonymous) says…

"Why can't our big industries compete with foreign companies? Their competitors have nationalized health care."

Hey, Cap - people in Sweden are taller than Americans. If we copy their healthcare system, will we all grow?

"What's the single greatest cause of foreclosure and personal bankruptcy? Health care costs."

This is outright BS. The so-called 'study' that makes that claim about bankruptcies was authored by those same social-activist quacks who brought us the 'study" saying 30% of our healthcare dollars go to administrative costs. (If you look up PNHP founder Stephanie Woolhandler's bio on the NIH website, she even says she became a doctor to promote her social change agenda.) Under the definitions used in the 'study', a bankruptcy filer could have a $300,000 mortgage, $50,000 in student loans, a $30,000 car loan, and $20,000 in credit card debt, but $5,000 in medical bills meant the bankruptcy was 'medically caused' (it was only $1,000 in the original study, incidentally). But wait - you didn't have to have any medical bills at all. If you missed more than two weeks of work because of medical reasons, or even if you just said the bankruptcy was medically caused, it went into the total.

Stop reading the soundbites, investigate the data used for yourself, and think, don't just blindly accept the conclusions.

"You paranoid right wingers throw out nonsense like that with no evidence or justification."

You mean like the bankruptcy claims?

"They spend far less and have similar or better outcomes"

Again with the soundbites. Okay, Cappy - which objective, measurable, verifiable factors that are a direct result of our healthcare system go into determining "better outcomes"?

notajayhawk 4 years, 10 months ago

whatthehell (Anonymous) says…

"One aspect though… Medicare patients are generally speaking older folks whose bills tend to be quite a bit higher. How much would those costs per patient be lowered if they included millions of people paying into the system that were not using the system at such a high rate?"

It depends on what you're talking about.

As a percentage of the claim paid, the cost per person would be higher. It costs about the same to process a claim for a $10 generic antibiotic as it does for a $1,000/dose chemotherapy drug. It costs about the same to cut a check and mail it for $10,000 for the surgeon who cut out part of a lung as it does for $50 for the GP who said 'turn your head and cough.'

Now, would per-person annual expenses be higher or lower? The only way they'd be lower would be if those millions of people who were added to the system were just paying in, not taking anything out. Many of the claims of the reformers have had to do with care people aren't getting because they have no insurance. The ones who have been denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions (or dropped for chronic conditions) would be a net loss to the pool. And even those who are more healthy - if you make me get insurance, I guarantee you I'll be using it to get my money's worth - I'll be at the doctor's office every time I feel a little run down or have a sniffle.

LoveThsLife 4 years, 10 months ago

I know Medicaid and Medicare plans are also very slow to mail payment checks out. I know this has been especially hard for many small, independent pharmacies hence ONE of the reasons they often sell their business's to larger chain pharmacies. Since National chains can more easily absorb the cost of the slow turn around time.

Kirk Larson 4 years, 10 months ago

notajayhawk (Anonymous) says… Hey, Cap - people in Sweden are taller than Americans. If we copy their healthcare system, will we all grow?

You write something THIS stupid and then tell ME to think. Wow. just wow.

George Lippencott 4 years, 10 months ago

See:

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2010/feb/02/compare-care/?letters_to_editor

An eye opener for national health care insurance!!!

Do you really think the old are going to go quietly into the great beyond at your behest? No wonder there are "tea parties"!! Think about how you would feel if you are suddenly told you must die because we will not pay for the care you were promised. Of course, the rich will not be so affected, will they? This could get real ugly! Kill the old so the young can have free /low cost health care. Not much greed there?

How about we drop all Pell grants, low cost loans and government grants in general to colleges and college students while cutting the salaries for college level educators by 20 - 30 %. That will make plenty of money available to pay for the promises made!

We could also save a bundle not subsidizing the mothers of children born when they can not afford them. More than enough there to pay the promises made!

When I started paying into my allegedly over burdening and pre-paid entitlements college professors were respected and not paid a whole lot. Now they are paid a whole lot and are not particularly well respected.

notajayhawk 4 years, 10 months ago

Cappy (Anonymous) says…

"You write something THIS stupid and then tell ME to think. Wow. just wow."

I know, I know, it was a pretty unrealistic expectation. Had you given it a whirl, you might have realized you were using a sic hoc ergo propter hoc argument. (Oh, and BTW, cap, it was a rhetorical question.) Not to mention, are doctors in this country going to work for what a doctor in, say, Japan makes? And that's just one of the reasons why converting to someone else's system does not guarantee there would be anything close to the savings of a system that was designed and purpose built.

Ah, well - if you're not capable of thinking, perhaps you should choose who you blindly follow off the cliff more wisely? Keith Olbermann probably isn't the best one to tell you what you need to believe about healthcare, cap.

notajayhawk 4 years, 10 months ago

whatthehell (Anonymous) says…

"So, nota…you do NOT currently have health insurance."

Why, no, I don't, actually.

And yet somehow I managed to get in to see the doctor today - feeling better already, actually. And it feels just that much better knowing I paid for it - and the prescriptions - myself.

commuter 4 years, 10 months ago

If the Dems health care plan is so great, why don't they include their Congressional plan to their bill. To me this would show real leadership.

George Lippencott 4 years, 10 months ago

vertigo (Jesse Crittenden) says…

Actually that is a Democratic Talking Point. Even Mr Obama has acknowledged that the fall out from the bill would result in people losing their current coverage while others - many others - would pay more.

I am told that Federal Employees when they retire are not forced on Medicare as are military and some state employees. Congresspersons get retirement after only a few years of service. There are also clinics available to them that can lead to service at special military hospitals.

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