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From the monthly archives: December, 2009

We are pleased to present below all posts archived in 'December, 2009'. If you still can't find what you are looking for, try using the search box.

What's Next on Health Care Reform?

The Senate is expected to wrap up it's health care debate tomorrow morning and then it's off to conference committee. Some lawmakers, particularly those who feel too much has been given away in the Senate health care bill, hope there might be changes in the conference version of the health care bill. That certainly doesn't appear likely. Our President/CEO, Barbara Kennelly, was among many interviewed in this good summary by McClatchy Newspapers. The Associated Press also has a detailed description of the differences between the House and Senate bills as they go into conference. Lastly, just for fun we recommend Politifact's Lie of the Year post.  Drum roll please.... It's Sarah Palin's continuing lie about death panels.  And given the year we've had...that's one heck of an accomplishment.

Congressional Commission Goes on the Naughty List

Santa Paws will be barking mad when learns that fiscal conservatives want to appoint a Congressional commission to cut Social Security and Medicare. Find out who makes Santa Paws Naughty and Nice lists in this lighthearted holiday greeting from the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

Health Care Reform and Medicare

The National Committee's Policy Director, Maria Freese, talked to C-Span this weekend about Medicare, health care reform and the Senate proposal to allow younger adults to buy-in to Medicare.  This is the beginning of the 30 minute segment.  You can see the full segment on our website at www.ncpssm.org.

USA Today Gets it Right on Medicare

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 Here is one of the best editorials describing the facts about health care reform and seniors we've seen in the main stream media.  It's well worth a read...share it with your friends.  Kudos to USA TODAY for taking the time to get past the rhetoric and spin to provide seniors the truth about health care reform.

USA TODAY EDITORIAL:

Our view on medical reform: GOP revives ‘scare Grandma’ tactics to kill health bill

Proposed Medicare cuts aren’t as big, or painful, as critics imply.

Edit03grf Scaring seniors about losing their Medicare benefits is deceptive and irresponsible, but it's a political winner. Both parties have played the game shamelessly over the years. This time, it's Republicans who are doing it, and it's as if they're trying to set a new, lower bar for demagoguery. How else to explain why Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a doctor who ought to know better, would warn seniors that the Medicare cuts in the health reform plan being debated in the Senate mean "you're going to die sooner." Or why Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., would plead: "Don't cut Grandma's Medicare." The occasion for this and other over-the-top rhetoric was an effort by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to remove the nearly $500 billion in Medicare cuts from the Senate measure. McCain argues that the cuts are so big, they'll inevitably and unfairly harm seniors' health care. Tellingly, even the nation's leading advocacy group for the aging, AARP, opposes McCain's amendment, noting that the Senate plan "does not reduce any guaranteed Medicare benefits." It's also interesting to note that McCain and other Republicans haven't always felt so protective of Grandma. McCain suggested even larger Medicare cuts during his presidential campaign last year, and he and some other GOP critics voted for cuts more than twice as big when Congress approved the Balanced Budget Act in 1997 What's different today? Republicans are trying to derail President Obama's health overhaul, and they want to get Democrats on record as voting to cut Medicare. Some key reasons why their arguments are bogus: — The Medicare cuts aren't nearly as big as critics imply. The cuts would take place over 10 years, at a time when Medicare would spend an estimated $7.1 trillion. Add back money for improved benefits, and the net cuts amount to about 5%. There's at least that much fat in the program. — Critics charge that Medicare providers such as hospitals — which would be cut about $140 billion over 10 years — would have to scale back services to seniors. It's odd, then, that the hospitals themselves agreed to accept about $155 billion in cuts. Why? Because health reform would provide so many new patients with insurance — including many that hospitals now treat for free — that hospitals would come out ahead. — Another big cut would come from Medicare Advantage, or so-called private Medicare, which was created to show that businesses could run Medicare plans more efficiently than the government. Few succeeded, so Congress made the program richer. Today, Medicare Advantage is a gold-plated program that requires taxpayers to kick in a 14% subsidy to help it compete with government-run Medicare. Are Medicare Advantage beneficiaries upset that some of their benefits might go away or cost more? Sure. Is that unfair? No. No matter what the Senate does, the aging of the Baby Boom generation will drive up Medicare costs rapidly. The Senate plan would trim the increase from about 6.5% a year to about 5.5% a year, while providing much of the funding necessary to expand medical coverage without crippling the federal budget. What's scary isn't what will happen to seniors and their Medicare benefits. They'll be fine. What's frightening is how many people will continue to suffer with bad insurance or none at all if the scare tactics succeed.

Crocodile Tears for Medicare

For three full days, the Senate debate over health care reform has been loaded with misinformation and scare tactics targeted directly at seniors.  Among the most recent outrageous claims are that seniors will die sooner  if health care reform passes and health care reform will cut Medicare benefits.  Both are simply not true.  Today we joined Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Tom Harkin (IA) at a news conference offering the truth about health care reform and it’s impact on Medicare.  We also announced our support for an amendment introduced by Senator Bennet today, which expressly prohibits any reductions in guaranteed Medicare benefits and makes sure all savings are reinvested back into Medicare.   You can watch Barbara’s full remarks here:    We’ve said it before but clearly it must be said again...and again...and again.

 “Don’t Touch Medicare” may sound like a good slogan but it’s a fatal strategy for the program. 

Here’s why:
  •  Benefits cuts  are not included in health care reform legislation being debated but that’s exactly what beneficiaries will ultimately face if we do nothing.  The status quo isn’t sustainable and failure to pass health care reform is not an option for seniors who rely on Medicare. Without reform, neither seniors nor the government will be able to afford the program and Medicare will be targeted with unprecedented benefit cuts, higher premiums, and growing out-of-pocket costs.  
  • If health care costs continue to grow unchecked the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)   predicts, total spending on health care would rise from 16 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2007 to 49 percent in 2082. Federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid would rise from 4 percent of GDP in 19 percent in 2082.  Benefits cuts are NOT proposed in the House reform legislation; however, without health care reform, it is inevitable that Medicare and Medicaid will face deep cuts and benefit cuts for seniors will be on the table then.  Arbitrarily cutting Medicare without addressing system wide health care reform is not a hypothetical financial exercise.  It would have real impacts on real people, most of whom have nowhere else to go for coverage and limited options for increasing their resources.  
  • The Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, which pays for Medicare Part A, is projected to be exhausted by 2017.  Without reform, seniors will bear an increasing burden of higher out-of-pocket costs—costs which already consume about one-quarter of the average senior’s Social Security benefit.  Without reform, that amount will continue to grow far beyond the average beneficiaries ability to keep up. The Part D doughnut hole alone is projected to double with in the next decade.  
Consider this: Health care reform’s most vocal opponents in Congress have also been philosophically opposed to the existence of social safety net programs like Medicare in the first place. Media Matters reports Senators who are leading the current charge to prevent reforms in Medicare have actually supported $1.57 billion in Medicare cuts in the past—and much of those were direct cuts in benefits. Given the current health care crisis in America, health care opponents’    strategy of “Don’t Touch Medicare” will ultimately achieve the same goal proposed by Medicare’s opponents back in the 1990’s to let Medicare “whither on the vine”.
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