Thursday, August 23, 2012


The Republicans want to move on from the Akin debacle and want the presidential campaign to concentrate on economic issues.

OK, I'm up with that.

Mitt Romney has declared that the first thing he would do as president is repeal Obamacare. Apparently he believes that, like a CEO, he can rule by fiat. I'm sure that congressional Republicans will disabuse him of that misconception soon enough.

Romney also wants to restore the billions that Obamacare cut from Medicare. That is almost as interesting, especially since those "cuts" have resulted in savings in health care and have shored up Medicare (see Off the Charts for a summary as to how that works).

And he would stop funding such wasteful programs as NPR, PBS, and the National Endowment of the Arts, because, of course, they've had such a heavy impact on our burgeoning budget deficit.

That's about as specific as Mr. Romney has been so far when it comes to the economy, which makes a discussion of his plans kind of short winded. Fortunately, his partner on the ticket, Paul Ryan, has been more specific. As a congressman, he proposed a budget which dealt with Medicare in a very interesting fashion: he would, in effect, privatize it, throwing Medicare recipients some vouchers to use in shopping for health care insurance in the open market.

David Lazarus took another look at Ryan's plan in his his latest column for the Los Angeles Times. He suggests that it's not just the elders who would suffer under such a proposal.

Amid all the chatter about whether Paul D. Ryan's proposed changes would, as Democrats say, "end Medicare as we know it," one group has been largely overlooked: disabled people.

The vast majority of Medicare's roughly 48 million beneficiaries are seniors over the age of 65. But about 8 million are disabled people of all ages. The federal program was expanded in 1972 to include those with permanent disabilities.

Many seniors are rightly concerned that Ryan, the conservative congressman tapped by Mitt Romney as his vice presidential running mate, has proposed a plan that could result in higher out-of-pocket expenses for Medicare coverage.

But disabled people could be in for an even bigger shock.

"People with disabilities are among the most vulnerable of the Medicare population," said Tricia Neuman, senior vice president of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. "They have chronic conditions that require ongoing care, and, in many cases, they have relatively low incomes." ...

[David Lipschutz, policy attorney with the nonprofit Center for Medicare Advocacy] also warned of significant consequences for so-called dual-eligibles — people who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid because of age or condition as well as income level.

According to some estimates, the Ryan plan would cut Medicaid federal spending for low-income people by about a third over the first decade. Healthcare analysts expect many people to be dropped from the program as funding dwindles.
[Emphasis added]

So, not only would Granny be put on the ice floe to oblivion, so would Uncle Harry with the testicular cancer. Nice plan, that.

Is that really what we want for this country? Healthcare for the upper classes but not for the most vulnerable among us?

Lazarus concludes that the surest way to a decent healthcare plan for the nation is to offer Medicare to everybody, something I don't think I'll see in my life time, but I think he's right:

What's the solution? I suggested it last week, but I'll make it more explicit here: Medicare for all.

Rather than increasing the role of mostly for-profit companies in healthcare, a more economically rational and socially equitable approach would be to spread medical risk throughout society via a national insurance plan. ...

"Government-run healthcare doesn't work," Ryan said last year. "Wherever we've seen government-run healthcare, it's failed."

He's wrong about that, as the facts plainly show. And he's wrong about any reform of our healthcare system that makes things tougher for the very people we need to help most.


I'm not thrilled about another four years of Barack Obama, given the last four, but he's sure as hell a lot better than the two yahoos the Republicans have thrown at us.

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Blogger ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I'm not thrilled about another four years of Barack Obama, given the last four, but he's sure as hell a lot better than the two yahoos the Republicans have thrown at us.

But therein is the problem. If he isn't enough better, we get President Santorum in 2016. And without ever having even sniffed policies liberals support.

We're being played for chumps, again and again. And not just by the other side.

7:40 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Calculating bank shots is difficult, ITTDGY. Four years from now, many things will be different and it will affect how people vote.

One example: Newt Gingrich fought the Clinton healthcare reform initiative so hard because he feared it would lead to Democratic dominance. If Obamacare gets fully phased in, people will realize they like having health insurance, and it will be very hard for Republicans to undo it. It will, however, be possible to push forward with single payer. In fact, it is already possible for a true non-profit (like the old Kaiser plan) to offer insurance at much reduced cost through the health care exchanges. That would break the insurance company monopoly. But Vermont is pushing forward with state-funded insurance and I wouldn't be surprised to see Massachusetts follow.

We can't allow ourselves to become paralyzed by worrying about what might happen.

12:36 PM  

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