Coburn/Lieberman Medicare Plan: Make Seniors Wait Even Longer for Coverage and Then Charge Them More

2011-06-28T15:55:00+00:00June 28th, 2011|Budget, entitlement reform, healthcare, Medicare, Part D|

The ongoing quest to balance the budget on the backs of America?s seniors continues with the latest Medicare plan offered by Senator Joe Lieberman and Senator Tom Coburn (who left the Gang of 6 negotiations because that bipartisan group wouldn?t slash seniors? programs enough).Rather than reigning in the skyrocketing costs of healthcare system wide (not just in Medicare), increasing efficiencies or even rooting out inefficiencies this plan puts the burden of a nationwide healthcare crisis directly on America?s seniors:?Most of the plan’s savings would come from some form of benefit reductions or cost-shifting to seniors ? a stark contrast to the Medicare cuts believed to be on the table in talks over the debt ceiling. Negotiators there are looking at cuts to healthcare industries after Democrats drew a line in the sand over benefit cuts.But Lieberman and Coburn’s proposal includes several politically risky benefit changes, such as making seniors pay more for their prescription drugs. It also would raise the eligibility age for Medicare. The proposal would cap seniors’ out-of-pocket costs depending on their income. The maximum would be set at $7,500 for people making less than $85,000 per year. Seniors with twice as much income would pay three times more in out-of-pocket Medicare costs.Seniors also would pay more for their prescription drugs. Premiums only cover about 11 percent of the total costs for Medicare Part D, the senators said. They would require seniors to pay the full cost of their drug coverage. They said the change would free up between $5 billion and $10 billion in tax money.The plan also would increase premiums for Medicare Part B, which covers drugs that are administered by a doctor. Part B premiums are more than $400 per year, and taxes currently cover only about a quarter of that cost. High-income seniors would have to pay the full cost of their Part B premiums under the Lieberman plan.? The HillNot so surprisingly, this proposal is all pain for seniors with absolutely no attempt to raise revenues.?Lieberman gave up an income tax hike that he previously said would be part of his proposal. ?The sooner you take the strong medicine, the sooner you will get healthy again,? [he] said.?In other words, America?s seniors must continue to take Washington?s version of ?strong medicine? so the nation?s largest corporations and wealthiest citizens can continue to stay healthy.