Sunday, July 5, 2015

Why Medicare Isn't the Problem; It's the Solution

Robert Reich. (photo: Richard Morgenstein)
Robert Reich. (photo: Richard Morgenstein)

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog
23 June 15
gain and again the upcoming election you’ll hear conservatives claim that Medicare - the health insurance program for America’s seniors - is running out of money and must be pared back.

Baloney. Medicare isn’t the problem. In fact, Medicare is more efficient than private health insurance.The real problem is that the costs of health care are expected to rise steeply.

Medicare could be the solution – the logical next step after the Affordable Care Act toward a single-payer system.

Please see the accompanying video – #11 in our series on ideas to make the economy work for the many rather than for the few. And please share.

Some background: Medicare faces financial problems in future years because of two underlying trends that will affect all health care in coming years, regardless of what happens to Medicare:

The first is that healthcare costs are rising overall - not as fast as they were rising before the Affordable Care Act went into effect, but still rising too quickly.

The second is that the giant post­war baby boom is heading toward retirement and older age. Which means more elderly people will need more health care, adding to the rising costs.

So how should we deal with these two costly trends? By making Medicare available to all Americans, not just the elderly.

Remember, Medicare is more efficient than private health insurers ­­ whose administrative costs and advertising and marketing expenses are eating up billions of dollars each year.

If more Americans were allowed to join Medicare, it could become more efficient by using its growing bargaining power to get lower drug prices, lower hospital bills, and healthier people.

Allowing all Americans to join Medicare is the best way to control future healthcare costs while also meeting the needs of the baby boomer and other Americans.

Everyone should be able to sign up for Medicare on the healthcare exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act.This would begin to move America away from its reliance on expensive private health insurance, and toward Medicare for all – a single­ payer system.

Medicare isn’t a problem. It’s part of the solution.


+40 # Caliban 2015-06-23 15:47
Medicare is, indeed, a key part of the solution, as Professor Reich argues. The problem is clearly protecting Medicare and building on it to provide powerful, effective healthcare to citizens of every economic bracket.
+2 # bingers 2015-06-24 05:40
Quoting Caliban:
Medicare is, indeed, a key part of the solution, as Professor Reich argues. The problem is clearly protecting Medicare and building on it to provide powerful, effective healthcare to citizens of every economic bracket.

And by making Medicare that most precious of Republican ideas, a flat tax, so that the rich pay the same 2% as the rest of us do, it would be solvent for millions of years. Of course mankind probably won't at the rate we're destroying the planet and using up all of our resources, but....
+41 # MEBrowning 2015-06-23 17:11
The Trade Adjustment Assistance bill, passed today by corporate-owned Senate Republicans and a handful of turncoat Democrats, will draw $450 million from Medicare, ostensibly to "assist" Americans who lose their jobs because of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

One more way to steal from public programs and then scream that the program is in trouble. One more way the 1% robs taxpayers to line their own pockets AND ship more jobs overseas.

What happened to all those "heroic job creators" who got voted into Congress last year? Job creators, my a$$.
+18 # economagic 2015-06-23 18:45
Indeed. The problem is fascism, although calling it that does not solve it and will likely get you dismissed as a nut case or ignored entirely.

That term is generally used today to indicate the interests of a highly militarized state being united with those of big business, often including those of some organized religious group, and often with a scapegoat. Note that under this definition it can only exist in a highly industrialized nation (big business).

Note as well that the choices available to us do not include voting it out of office, much less driving it out by street demonstrations. Rear guard actions in both of those arenas are probably necessary, but the real questions we all need to be thinking about and acting upon have to do with how we respond, how we even survive in this situation. I am betting on small-scale local and regional organization or enterprise for meeting local and regional needs, focusing on strengthening local economies and more fundamentally communities for resilience in what are likely to be very trying times. I recommend the Transition Towns movement, and its US branch, transitionus.or g, as a place to start; also the (Schumacher) centerforneweco
+26 # REDPILLED 2015-06-23 17:11
Corporate/Wall St. politicians are the problem.
+3 # motamanx 2015-06-23 22:47
Fascism was Mussolini's word for Corporatism.
+26 # elizabethblock 2015-06-23 17:13
I live in Canada. "Socialist" Canada. Eat your hearts out.
+16 # economagic 2015-06-23 18:46
Consider yourself fortunate, and keep a sharp eye on the reactionaries in your government who seem to be determined to make your country more like ours.
0 # Merlin 2015-06-23 21:13
# elizabethblock 2015-06-23 17:13
"I live in Canada. "Socialist" Canada. Eat your hearts out."

Thanks for your loving thought.
+20 # jdd 2015-06-23 17:31
Of course Medicare, which has a 3% overhead compared to 30% for private insurance,shoul d have been made available to all. However President Obama, in order to pass the ACA, sabotaged that possibilty along with the public option at a time when the Democrats controlled both houses and a single payer bill was widely supported. He then presided over the public bashing of Medicare, which no Republican president had dared do, to justify stealing $750 billion from medicare over the next ten years to subsidize the ACA, giving credence to the budget cutters' arguments.
+7 # lewagner 2015-06-23 18:14
And one thumbs-up.
+4 # Caliban 2015-06-23 23:29
I'd say that the President concluded that history and Congressional sentiment were not yet on the side of Medicare for all and that the ACA had the best chance of bringing broadly based coverage to the country despite Congress's foolish but long-standing resistance to such programs.

But the ACA is a big first step towards federal Coverage for all, and the rest will follow.
+18 # dyannne 2015-06-23 18:40
"LIAR! Medicare for ALL!" should be a resounding cry from all of us every time those a-holes open their mouths to bash it.
+16 # reiverpacific 2015-06-23 20:53
As if Medicare doesn't have enough leaky holes in it already, it's had to bear the fraudulent assault of these ravening, greedy, hungry Wolves (with apologies to these beautiful animals) of the US medical establishment, who already do pretty damn well from whatever they dish out in the name of treatment.
Read on to power.
I'm just glad they were nabbed in the act but this is just the ones that were caught.
Now we know why Medicare is allegedly in financial trouble (if indeed it is, which I don't necessarily buy into).
Quod erat Demonstrandum.
+8 # Rockster 2015-06-23 22:26
Medicare is one of the most functional programs in our entire government. Small , not for profit retirement homes are able to provide good loving care to seniors who would have no real options without Medicare . Ask yourself if either our " Intelligence/se curity" apparatus or our bloated with useless officers military are ever held to that kind of scrutiny? Even the loaded phrases used , entitlement programs, welfare queens, homeless , are designed to corrupt accurate thinking. We are not even informed of the true military/ intelligence gathering budget or size of the force. How efficient is all our drone bombing? Even taking the very shaky morality off the table of these " counterinsurgen cy programs" , there is zero attempt to justify their expense. There is very substantial collateral damage but do we ever know or debate the actual value of these kind of programs? No! And yet , somehow, there is endless squeezing of the working poor and every program comes under close scrutiny. Is this insane or what? And how and why do we all put up with this? Maybe it's time to stop being passively stupid.

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