Showing posts with label Medicare. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Medicare. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Republicans And Democrats Working Together?

I think I may have slipped into an alternate reality.

Congress approves formula fixing Medicare doctors pay.

Congress on Tuesday approved a bill to repair the formula for reimbursing Medicare physicians, marking a rare bipartisan achievement just in time to head off a 21 percent cut in the doctors' pay.

What the-??!! Did I wake up in an alternate reality?

It gets better.

The legislation includes a two-year extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for low-income children and a two-year extension of funding for community health centers.

Maybe there is some hope...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Not Such A Budget Buster

It looks like the predictions of impending doom and economic disaster for Medicare were blown all out of proportion.

The changes are big. The difference between the current estimate for Medicare’s 2019 budget and the estimate for the 2019 budget four years ago is about $95 billion. That sum is greater than the government is expected to spend that year on unemployment insurance, welfare and Amtrak — combined. It’s equal to about one-fifth of the expected Pentagon budget in 2019. Widely discussed policy changes, like raising the estate tax, would generate just a tiny fraction of the budget savings relative to the recent changes in Medicare’s spending estimates.

Check out the graph they provide. Pretty cool.

So, why did this happen?

Even as more people are getting access to health insurance, the costs of caring for individual patients is growing at a super-slow rate. That means that health care, which has eaten into salary gains for years and driven up debt and bankruptcies, may be starting to stabilize as a share of national spending.


..some are because of cuts in health care spending passed by Congress. The Affordable Care Act, in particular, made significant reductions to Medicare’s spending on hospitals and private Medicare plans, to help subsidize insurance coverage for low- and middle-income Americans. The Budget Control Act, which Congress passed in 2011, also made some across-the-board cuts to Medicare spending.


...much of the recent reductions come from changes in behavior among doctors, nurses, hospitals and patients. Medicare beneficiaries are using fewer high-cost health care services than in the past — taking fewer brand-name drugs, for example, or spending less time in the hospital. The C.B.O.'s economists call these changes “technical changes,” and they dominate the downward revisions since 2010.

Well, there goes that talking point:)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

SOTU Bite Size Chunks (Part One)

I'm going to be taking the SOTU speech in smaller chunks throughout the day and focusing in on particular passages. First up, is this one...

On Medicare, I’m prepared to enact reforms that will achieve the same amount of health care savings by the beginning of the next decade as the reforms proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission.

Wow. That's certainly going to piss off a lot of Democrats. And it's way past time that he did this!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Between a Rock and a...Rock

In so many ways, the Republican Party is fucked. As I have wondered previously, what are they good at? And why do people vote for them? They don't really have any solutions for the myriad of challenges our country faces and seem to only be capable of harnessing fear, hate and anger. A recent article demonstrates the problem is much deeper than that.

I've been thinking along the same lines myself since Election Day 2008. In essence, the Republican Party is in the same disaster state today as it was nearly three years ago. I may have been naive back then when I predicted their demise (I must remember to never forget about paranoia, racism, and greed) and certainly premature but honestly, I think their days are numbered.

While it's true that they did win elections in 2010 which resulted in them taking back the House, the only reason they did was because of the Tea Party. Take them out of the equation and the Democrats win every election. Put them into the equation and they primary candidates that aren't far enough right...candidates that can't win a general election because the country simply isn't that far right. This is why I say the Republicans are fucked.

This problem was illustrated quite clearly in the recent special election in NY-26. A Democratic victory in a district that has been largely a Republican stronghold for over 150 years. How did this happen? Blame Paul Ryan and his plan to privatize Medicare which further illustrates the fucked-ness of the GOP. Ryan's plan has now become a litmus test for conservatives. If you don't support it, your ass is going to be primaried by the only reason the GOP has a pulse...the Tea Party. Yet if you do support it, say goodbye to 70 percent of the voters. So, it's not really a rock and a hard place. It's a rock and a rock. Because the only way out of their dilemma is to admit that their party is, quite literally, over.

And we all know their track record on admitting defeat.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How Does This Play Out?

I had a very enjoyable exchange with one of the many anonymous posters in comments. I'm not sure who he or she was but even though we were ideologically in different places, we actually had a reasonable and substantive debate.

The poster said something which stuck with me and left me curious.

I submit to you and your readers, that most people could handle the complexities of life if they were just allowed to do so. At some point, your mother 'cut the apron strings' and allowed you to 'sink or swim'. Unless we are all still breast-fed, adversity was overcome starting at an early age.

Conservative vs. Liberal seems to disagree on the amount of adversity a citizen should be allowed to experience before 'the system' provides for that individual.

I enjoy this person's optimism and agree that people in our culture need to handle the complexities of life in a more diligent and effective way. They are very emotionally retarded about it now and I see it every day. I constantly pummel my own kids with "Figure it out yourself." In the end, it will help them.

Yet this comment evokes several questions. First, who is not "allowing them" to manage complexities? Second, what is meant by "cutting the apron strings and allowing you to sink or swim?" I would assume the latter means cutting or eliminating Social Security and Medicare. Is that correct? I'm not just asking the poster. I'm asking all of you because that seems to be a general sentiment.

By intimating that some people will "sink" (sort of Darwin's survival of the fittest thing), how do any of you envision that will play out? Social Security, for example, has been proven to have reduced poverty in the elderly. So when the plug is literally pulled on grandma, are you going to be alright with that?

As the poster said, conservatives and liberals do disagree on the amount of adversity a citizen should have to face before aid steps in. I'm just wondering if the conservatives have really thought how "sink or swim" works as a practical application in reality. We're talking about the elderly in our population here and they are already treated like crap by a culture trapped in the hubris of worshiping youth.

So, I'm hoping that the poster clarifies his comments because I could easily have misinterpreted them. Anyone else should feel free to offer their always:)

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Shine of the Free Market

Health care options in the market under the health care reform law became better.

I wonder who it was that said this recently? Take a moment and think about it.

I'm sure your first thought was a Democrat or health reform lobbyist, right?

It was, in fact, Jackie Berry, spokesperson for 3m. 3M is one of the largest companies in the world with over 76,000 employees world wide. 3M has decided to give their retirees cash to go and shop for health care on their own, giving them the freedom to choose whatever plan they see fit.

3M is a company that sees the benefit of the new health care reform law.

Let's let the soak in for a moment, shall we.

(cue elevator music for 1-2 minutes)

And we're back.

So what exactly is going to happen?
  • Starting Jan. 1, 2013, 3M retirees eligible for Medicare will get a health reimbursement arrangement: an account with credit in it to buy a Medicare supplement plan or a prescription drug plan.
  • Starting Jan. 1, 2015, retirees not eligible for Medicare will also get a retiree health reimbursement arrangement to buy an individual insurance plan on the open market
Berry said retirees will end up saving money, thanks to several provisions due to kick in between now and then.

Open Market? Freedom of choice? Saving Money? Wait...I thought the opposite was supposed to happen under this new law. Was there a very large group of people not telling me the truth? Hmmm....

Not everyone is happy with freedom, however.

Rita Horne, 73, whose husband Einer Horne worked 33 years at 3M, was not pleased to receive the letter.

"I got to tell you, I would like to take Congress and wring their necks," said Horne, of Hudson, Wis. "They've taken a very satisfactory and good health insurance program and going to I don't know what."

Her husband, 75, who's had cancer and open-heart surgery, said he knew this day would come ever since "Obama passed Obamacare."

"You would think every corporation in America would do the same. Number one, it's going to save a hell of a lot of money and number two, it's probably as fair a system as you can get out of anybody," he said.

Will the new plan save money for him? Horne laughed: "I have no idea."

Saving money and being fair you say, Einer? At least he admits it. But Rita doesn't want that freedom or choice at all. Sad. And why, Rita, aren't you guys already on Medicare?

More importantly, take note of the words I have bolded in black. There is nothing that is more accurate a summation of where all this vitriol about health care originates: fear of the unknown. They don't know what is going to happen but they sure don't like it. How is that possible if you don't know?

See, this is where people like the Koch Brothers come in with FreedomWorks and prey upon people's fears. They know people don't really know that much about reform so they use it to their advantage and co-opt them into believing complete lies. The end result is basically the current form of the GOP.

The fact is that as more companies follow the lead of 3M, more people are going to have a choice about where to get their health care. This will eliminate health care being tied to employers which has not worked out well at all. It's a step in the right direction of eliminating the far too many middle men. You don't hear the word "freedom" associated with the new health care law amid the screaming by people who stand the most to lose from reform. But here it is, folks, plain as day.

This is an excellent example of why I supported it. And a shining example of the free market:)