Friday, June 08, 2007

The GOP is trying to privatize Medicare

It appears Congressman Dave Camp is rubber stamping the Bush administration by calling for the private sector to take a greater role in health care. From the AFL-CIO Blog:
Two years after the American people rejected the Bush administration’s plan to privatize Social Security, the White House now is trying quietly to privatize Medicare.

Here’s how: The Republican Congress gave big insurance companies that provide Medicare insurance what amounts to a huge subsidy under the so-called “Medicare Advantage” program. These private insurers were supposed to introduce competition into the Medicare system and reduce costs.

But after the private insurers got their hands into the cookie jar, they began taking more than their share. Instead of reducing costs, the new plan means the federal government, on average, is paying private plans 12 percent more than it costs to treat people on traditional Medicare, according to the Congressional Budget Office and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.

This year alone, according to the Alliance for Retired Americans, the federal government will overpay the insurance industry $7.5 billion this year and an estimated $160 billion over the next 10 years. [...] [emphasis mine]

As Edward Coyle, executive director of the Alliance, which represents 3 million retirees and seniors, told a Capitol Hill press conference:

Medicare Advantage threatens the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund. As the Bush administration continues to sound alarms bells about the Trust Fund, they ought to start by ending these egregious subsidies to the insurance industry.

The outrageous waste and abuse in the Medicare Advantage program is part of our larger, misguided privatization of Medicare. We’ve turned too much of Medicare over to Wall Street at the expense of the people who need help on Main Street.
Coyle goes on to point out how that $160 billion overpayment could go a long way toward eliminating the donut hole. Further, by reining in those payments, the federal government could improve benefits for lower-income families and provide coverage to millions of uninsured low-income children.

The Bush administration and Congressman Dave Camp should be concerned about our senior citizens and millions of uninsured instead of the private sector. As Coyle says:
Something is very wrong with our Medicare program—the big drug and insurance companies keep getting more, and retirees keep getting less. It is time to change this. It is time to end the corporate welfare subsidies in the Medicare Advantage program.
It's also time for the Republican Party to back up their "values" claim with action. In case they need their memories refreshed about the definition of values, Michael Moore explains in the DetNews how his Catholic boyhood helped shape the core values that are on display in "Sicko" [emphasis mine]:
"This film comes from a spiritual place," Moore says, "so I wanted to go to the headquarters of the sisters who taught me in my early years. They had a profound impact on me."

The idea that it's about "the we, not the me," came from the nuns. "Instead of calling it 'socialized medicine,' it should be called 'Christianized medicine.'"

"This was one of the ground rules that was laid down by Jesus. He said, 'I'm going to ask you a bunch of questions when you get to the pearly gates. When I was hungry did you feed me? When I was homeless, did you give me shelter? When I was sick, did you take care of me? And if you didn't do these things, and you didn't do these for the least of my people, then I'm going to have to say that you can't come in the big house.'"


acsfh said...

Speaking of Sicko, there's an op-ed column about Medicare in today's Boston Globe that will make you sick.

The writer claims medicare is "severely flawed" - not because of the cost of our grossly inefficient private system, but because:

* the co-payment for retirees is too low to discourage them from getting medical care

* Medicare will be more efficient if it "leaves the elderly worse off than before"

Ok, I phrased these points to underscore what the writer was saying. But the actual quotes are not very different than what I wrote. Read it if you have your blood-pressure medication handy


abi said...

Sorry, forgot the link:

JollyRoger said...

Healthcare as it exists today is simply not ompatible with the private business model. In the US, insurance companies have an incentive to make the process as difficult as they can. They can boost rates for every new clerical trick they employ to avoid paying the claim they just boosted the rates for to begin with. We have Soviet efficiency on a Bentley budget. We either abandon the privatization or the system will collapse due to the dead weight.

Kathy said...

Abi, thanks for the link. So, basically, the Bush administration thinks all old people should just be allowed to get sick and die. Some solution. I wonder how Barbara Bush feels about that? Oh, wait, she has a gazillion dollars and can buy any health procedure she wants.

Jollyroger, hello, and thanks for stopping by. I have to agree with you that health care is not compatible with private business. It could be, and I think it was at one time, but somewhere along the way they lost their moral compass. Profits trump people. There's nothing wrong with profits, but HUGE profits are the goal today at the expense of patients - and investors.