Obama's Deficit Cutting Plan: No Raise in Medicare Eligibility Age

President Obama took a stand for Democrats and seniors today. I'm canceling his pink slip notice.

Obama's plan to cut the nation's deficit is already being attacked by Republicans. The plan is in line with Democratic values. Why should those who make more than a million dollars a year pay tax only at the rate of 15%, when so many of us who earn far less are taxed at 35%? The Bush tax cuts should have been repealed a long time ago.

The plan also calls for $1 trillion in cuts for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. Most importantly:

The plan doesn't touch Social Security, and there is no proposed increase in the Medicare eligibility age -- a cost-saving plan the president was willing to agree to earlier in the year, to the dismay of liberals.


Republicans insisted on the deficit cuts, and here they are. They can cry until the cows come home, but their obstructionist votes are likely to cost them in 2012.

The battle isn't over, the gang of 12 super-henchmen are still at our door. But at least President Obama has stuck a wedge at the entrance. It's now up to us to back him and keep it there.

< Report: Obama Won't Seek to Raise Medicare Eligibility Age | Monday Afternoon Open Thread >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    how sad (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by desmoinesdem on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 12:05:46 PM EST
    that we even needed to worry about a Democratic president proposing to raise the Medicare eligibility age. He should be pressing to lower that age.

    If (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 12:07:17 PM EST
    Obama is smart he will send a bill for the taxes all by themselves and see what happens.

    some of these things (none / 0) (#11)
    by CST on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 12:40:57 PM EST
    really aren't rocket science.

    You could run that election ad over and over in just about every state.


    I agree with Dday (5.00 / 4) (#3)
    by MO Blue on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 12:14:08 PM EST
    President Obama has already privately signaled that in theory he would be willing to support major cuts to Medicare.  And he's hinted he'd be willing to cut Social Security benefits. They were both earlier put the table for a theoretical deal and this speech didn't take them off the table. There was no veto threat to protect Medicare and Social Security benefits.

    In fact,  in his only veto threat Obama made it clear he would accept Medicare benefit cuts if they were accompanied by new tax revenue from the rich by saying, "I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share." That "but" is a very important clause that means there are scenarios in which Obama would sign a bill that significantly cuts Medicare benefits.

    While it is good our Democratic President is at least not publicly pushing for major cuts in America's social safety net, he has still very much left the door open to supporting major cuts in the future as part the grand bargain he has been pursuing almost since the day he took office. link

    Since tax increases on the wealthy... (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Dadler on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 12:18:05 PM EST
    ...should be used to SHORE UP medicare, not cut it.

    The absurdity of Obama's statement is quite obvious, and its logical ends unknown.

    That said, I guess I'm glad he's back in campaign mode so at least I can hear some nice stuff in the background for awhile.  Because let's face it, J, until Obama stops being the weak personality he is, this is all noise.  And not even rational noise.


    Obama is still calling for (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by MO Blue on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 12:30:35 PM EST
    tax reform which lowers the marginal tax rates and closes loopholes in his speech today. The end result based on Obama and Congressional actions in the recent past, will be much lower marginal rates for corporations and the mega rich offset by reductions in domestic and safety net programs. Closing loopholes will be done with smoke and mirrors and will be sold as meeting Obama's criteria and allowing him to sign the bill.

    And part of his plan (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by jbindc on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 12:34:52 PM EST
    Involves trillions of dollars in "war savings"., which will supposedly allow him to not mess with Social Security or Medicare.  Does  anyone seriously believe that number will be achieved (or anything else that comes out if his mouth)?

    does anyone here (none / 0) (#10)
    by CST on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 12:39:31 PM EST
    actually care about the deficit?

    Don't get me wrong, I'm good with "war savings" as long as it's not in the form of vet benefits.

    But if he misses his "target" cost-cutting I'm not gonna cry about if it means the important stuff is still being funded.


    Do you honestly think (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by jbindc on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 01:33:25 PM EST
    If the cost cutting doesn't add up then SS and Medicare will still be ok because they're in a different bucket? Hilarious.

    Of course, you also have to believe the "savings" are real dollars that will be put towards other things like fully funding programs you support.


    I honestly think (none / 0) (#22)
    by CST on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 01:36:26 PM EST
    that Democrats (including Obama) are not going to cut SS and Medicare in an election year.

    Anything beyond that means taking the house back.


    How revealing this statement is (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by sj on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 01:46:53 PM EST
    I honestly think ... that Democrats (including Obama) are not going to cut SS and Medicare in an election year.

    We should be able to be confident that they won't do that in any year!  Especially after being [re]elected!!!


    Who said (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by jbindc on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 01:52:54 PM EST
    It would be in an election year?  Oh, if they pass something it will be before the next election, but they'll write the bill so things happen after Obama is safely re-elected and can't be held responsible.  Then they'll package like the health bill where things don't kick in for years and they will blow more smoke up our collective butts and tell us how wonderful it was and how they saved us from the scary Republicans.

    While no longer proposing to raise (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by KeysDan on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 02:02:52 PM EST
    Medicare age-eligibility is an encouraging sign by the president, it may be premature to uncork the Champagne bottle.  The negotiations will be arduous and lobbying intense.  If a deal is struck that "balances" a millionaire's tax with an increase in Medicare eligibility to age 67 (as a result of American Hospital Association and other affected providers's lobbying efforts) I would not bet the farm on that "compromise" not going through.    However, the best part of the president's proposal is that it permits Democratic congressman and other supporters to argue against increasing the age eligibility (unless and until they do).

    Taibbi (5.00 / 4) (#4)
    by Romberry on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 12:15:02 PM EST
    "...we are back in campaign mode and Barack Obama has started doing again what he does best -- play the part of a progressive. He's good at it." - Why I Don't Believe Him Anymore

    PT Barnum could have learned a thing or three from Barack Obama. Obama sure seems to have learned plenty from Barnum.

    Welcome to the club Matt (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by jbindc on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 12:35:41 PM EST
    Too bad you helped sell him in the first place.

    Hence, "Why I Don't Believe Him Anymore" (5.00 / 4) (#42)
    by BobTinKY on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 02:17:37 PM EST
    is Tiabbi's title.

    A lot of us got snookered.  Judiing by the pocketed pink slip, apparently many of us are still willing to be snookered again.


    I should add that I meant (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by sj on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 04:32:55 PM EST
    I am looking toward the earliest possible time we can run a Democrat who isn't embarassed to call him/herself one and have a chance at winning.  

    Because there is no doubt in my mind that a Republican will follow O.  Either now or in 4 years.  And I am recoiling from the damage that can be done at the hand of Democratic president over the next 4 years.  Followed by GOP hands for either 4 or 8 years.

    This was my party before it was his.  And yet he has managed to completely corrupt it.  Even if good honest citizens like yourself and J can't allow yourselves to see it.


    I predict (5.00 / 1) (#68)
    by jbindc on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 05:24:12 PM EST
    If O wins, it will be with a fully Republican Congress, and then a Republican president for 8 years beginning in 2016.  We may get a Democratic Congress in 2020, but this administration, along with the help of the beltway media who have given a pass on so many things, and, because they like the conflict and horse race aspect, have helped foster the rise of the Tea Party, have re-defined what the term "Democrat" means and stands for.

    And not in a good way.


    It's not snookering (none / 0) (#52)
    by waldenpond on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 03:02:54 PM EST
    This is a Dem site and will always support the Dem candidate.  It might be early, but many D sites will start selling the D candidate.  The riff-raff will clear out temporarily (or you'll see lots of banning on sites as in the past) to control the tone.

    There is a difference between being a Dem and being a liberal.  For some, change can only be done by being a team member and hoping to get on a conference call (a place at the table is too much in this day and age) and for others, it's a focus on policy.  

    The net is no different than traditional media.  It's all about messaging by owners.


    Funny (none / 0) (#55)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 03:20:30 PM EST
    I don't remember the country electing a president who wasn't a dem or a republican in the modern era and it will not happen any time soon.

    Maybe the rest of us understand that Team Nader is wonderful to listen to but has zero effect on actual policy.

    Being a loud liberal with absolutely zero political power seems pointless, but that's just me.


    Yes, and sitting on your hands... (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by Dadler on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 04:19:19 PM EST
    ...and keeping silent is the mark of a healthy democratic state.  My friend, the ONLY thing freedom means, is the right of the people to be loud and boisterous in their dissent of their government.  You can buy Pepsi and Ipods and agree with your government is any totalitarian nation these days, you don't need a free country for it.  For loud and angry citizens to voice their grievances publicly, you actually need a free country.  You don't want that freedom, don't exercise it.  For a lot of people right now, it's all they have.  And you seem as loud and powerless as anyone here, so...join the club.

    Make noise (none / 0) (#64)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 04:34:35 PM EST
    Lots of it.

    But when voting day comes, be smart.  Don't let the bad guys (the real bad guys) win because of your frustration with the imperfect good guy.  That's my request.


    Boo! (5.00 / 4) (#76)
    by waldenpond on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 07:30:39 PM EST
    That's all either team has any more... the other side is scaaaaweeeeee!  Boo!

    I won't be voting for the conservative on the R side or the conservative on the D side.


    And I am not powerless (none / 0) (#65)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 04:35:35 PM EST
    I am voting in a way to make the real bad guys lose.    And I am talking about it.

    I agree with this, sort of (none / 0) (#62)
    by sj on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 04:28:03 PM EST
    And if some of you choose not to participate in those elections, for whatever your reasons, then you've made a decision to accept whatever outcome which comes to pass.

    The truth is, I have to deal/accept whatever outcome comes to pass no matter what.

    As I also concede that my automatic D vote has helped to bring our current straits into existence.  This country has yet to see it's darkest days.  And they are coming no matter who wins the presidency next year.

    As I've said, I'm taking the long view.  I am looking toward the earliest possible time we can run a Democrat who isn't embarassed to call him/herself one.  And that would be 2016.  But only if O loses.  


    Hey, sj, if your car still isn't running (5.00 / 2) (#73)
    by Towanda on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 06:07:50 PM EST
    well three years after your mechanic took the money for fixing it, do you keep going back to the guy and believe his promises again and again -- taking the long view that he meant well?  

    No, of course you wouldn't do so.  You don't get stuck with the same mechanic for four years, and you get to do something different for a different outcome.


    This is ridiculous (none / 0) (#72)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 06:00:15 PM EST
    This is like blaming the mechanic for the accident that messed up your car in the first place.

    As if the fault lies with the guy struggling to fix the broken fender and not the idiot who ran the stop sign and hit it in the first place.

    This "blame the dems first" mentality assumes :

    1. There was an automatic fix that the dems could have done to fix everything

    2. George W. Bush, the POTUS many view as the worst in history, is somehow less culpable than Obama.

    That sentence alone proves how far from base reality this bashing of Obama and the dems has become.

    yes, they have not been perfect.  But let's keep the fingers of primary blame and fault pointed towards the GOP where it belongs.


    If the mechanic fails to fix the fender (5.00 / 2) (#74)
    by MO Blue on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 06:30:41 PM EST
    and actually makes the damage worse, then it is not only fair but correct to blame the mechanic for his part of the problem.

    Rather than a "blame the dems first" mentality it is IMO a mentality that holds politicians of both parties responsible for their decisions.

    George W. Bush who many rightfully view as the worst president in history is responsible for the actions that he took while he was president. He is no longer president. He has not been president for 3 years.

    Obama has been president since 2009 and he is the current president. He is responsible for the decisions that he has made since his time in office. Even he admits that many of those decisions have not been good decisions. He and his administration admit that they woefully misjudged the depth of economic problems. Many very knowledgeable people told him that his actions were too small to handle the problems that existed and he chose to ignore their advise. That is his responsibility. He was president when he made those decisions and not G.W. Bush.

    He was the president when he chose to pivot to deficit reductions rather than continue to push for more and better ways to stimulate the economy and put people back to work. G.W. Bush was not responsible for that decision. Obama made that decision and he bears the responsibility for that decision.

    Obama was president when he relentlessly pursued reducing the deficit by cutting domestic and safety net programs. The decision to publicly pursue cutting these programs was one of the contributing factors in the big Democratic losses in 2010. The Republicans were relentless in claiming that Obama was trying to take seniors Medicare away and they had enough statements by Obama on his desire to change the program to make their accusations believable. Obama is responsible for the decision to go after the safety net programs.

    Obama was the president who personally negotiated not only extending the tax cuts for the rich but making them even more generous than the Bush tax cuts. Obama was the president who decided not to include raising the debt limit as part of the deal and manufactured a crisis that resulted in even more cuts to domestic programs but allowed his to set up another situation to promote his Grand Bargain. Obama is responsible for those decisions.  

    Obama is currently president and he is still advocating cutting Medicare and Medicaid benefits even now. He is responsible for making that decision.  


    You mentioned GWB (none / 0) (#77)
    by sj on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 07:47:53 PM EST
    I did not.  If those are your assumptions/conclusions you require a full course study in logic.  

    It is a given that the GOP are not good for this nation.  That is why I have stated many times that I can never vote R.

    I will not vote against my own interests ever again.


    I agree, but I think exposing him (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by observed on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 12:42:01 PM EST
    is a hopeless cause. Look how quickly people forget every bad thing Obama he has done, just for a few words.
    Even this morning, I saw someone thanking god that at least Obama wasn't a triangulator like Hillary.

    Question (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by Romberry on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 12:45:55 PM EST
    Even this morning, I saw someone thanking god that at least Obama wasn't a triangulator like Hillary.

    When you saw that, did you bang your head on your desk or keyboard? Or did you have a handy hammer nearby? ;)


    let's not turn this into a (none / 0) (#19)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 01:07:53 PM EST
    discussion of Hillary. This is about Medicare.

    Trust Obama's actual actions, not his fine words-- (none / 0) (#78)
    by jawbone on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 10:22:47 PM EST

    The line about class warfare and math (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by observed on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 12:20:42 PM EST
    is good.

    A blown opportunity (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by RonK Seattle on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 01:02:30 PM EST
    As soundbites go, "This isn't class war -- it's math class" would have had much stronger legs.

    ... and then stating the choice (none / 0) (#33)
    by magster on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 01:56:44 PM EST
    Medicare or permanent tax cuts to wealthy. Student aid or permanent tax cuts to wealthy.

    Very well framed choices.


    Raising (5.00 / 4) (#13)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 12:44:21 PM EST
    the retirement age likely wouldn't have affected Jeralyn because it would have been phased in over time.

    Cutting provider payments will affect you tho.  The number of providers that accept Medicare patients is shrinking.  It will shrink further if Obama cuts provider payments.

    Nothing like having an insurance plan you can't even use because good providers won't accept it....

    Like I've said my MIL turned 65 while receiving radiation and chemo for endometrial cancer...she had been a federal insuree but was forced to sign up for Medicare.  Her oncologist dropped her because he doesn't accept Medicare patients.

    Read.  I see stories like this all the time:  Link.

    Obama should be raising taxes on the rich and NOT slashing Medicare payments to providers.  You should be livid about what he's doing.  The fact that you aren't frankly shows that you really don't understand the issue.  If you did, you'd uncancel that pink slip right away.  What he's doing is smoke and mirrors.

    Teresa is dead on right (5.00 / 4) (#35)
    by BobTinKY on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 02:00:38 PM EST
    there is nothing new here.  Obama will cut Medicare, and left the door open to raising the age if he gets GOP acquiesence to some tax hikes.  

    The arsonist has simply qualified his threat to burn down the house, he has not retracted it.  He deserves no reward for 1) making the threat, or 2) qualifying it, or 3) retracting and thereby "solving" a problem he himself created.  

    After his 2008 promises and his actions to date in office why should we believe him anyhow?  


    he's not slashing payments to providers (none / 0) (#18)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 01:06:33 PM EST
    Here's what he's proposing.

    Congress already passed use of value based measures in the Health Care Act. He's apparently suggesting they start measuring doctors in 2013. I don't fully understand it, and here's why doctors object, but he's not proposing an overall slashing of doctor payments.

    I'm giving him positive reinforcement for not supporting raising the eligibility age.


    TNR. Wow. (5.00 / 3) (#20)
    by Romberry on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 01:16:49 PM EST
    From your link:

    Also of note are increases in cost-sharing for home health care and some Part B premiums. This is actually something conservatives should like, at least in theory, since it's arguably a version of what they call "consumer-directed care," albeit in a very small dose. In a nutshell, seniors would have to pay slightly higher out-of-pocket costs for home health care and Part B services, plus they'd have to pay a surcharge on their premiums if their Medigap policies have "first-dollar" coverage (in other words, fi their Medigap policies don't have any cost-sharing). The hope is that exposing seniors to higher out-of-pocket costs would make them a little more wary of using services that might not be necessary.

    As with any effort to increase cost-sharing, there's always a danger that it will penalize people with low incomes or the most serious medical conditions...

    Let's see one sentence of that again: "The hope is that exposing seniors to higher out-of-pocket costs would make them a little more wary of using services that might not be necessary."

    Everyone knows that the problem with health insurance in general and Medicare in particular is that it is just so easy and so cheap to go to the doctor needlessly that people do it just for fun and entertainment. ("Honey, I'm bored. Let's go to the hospital and have an appendectomy. Bring some popcorn.") Or something like that. That seems to be part of the theory anyway.



    Well, I guess we'll all just have to (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by Zorba on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 01:42:25 PM EST
    attend medical school so that we can become "educated consumers" of our own health care.  If I'm very sick and a doctor (or two or three) recommends a certain test or service, how the heck am I supposed to know if that test or service might or might not be necessary?  Google it?  You can find all kinds of opinions on the web, pro or con, on anything.  Med school it is.   :-(  

    I googled the surgical procedure I am (none / 0) (#25)
    by oculus on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 01:46:03 PM EST
    having tomorrow.  Mayo Clinic web site says 3-4 days in hospital.  My doctor laughed when I told her that.  She says nobody is in hospital that long for this procedure!  

    I've had the Mayo Clinic experience (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by Towanda on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 01:49:53 PM EST
    and it was amazing, the way that all medical care ought to be.  And tests there for a second opinion spared one of my children from having surgery at all, certainly a worthy result for her health insurance company as well as for my child.

    Btw, you also might be amazed at how inexpensive Mayo Clinic can be.  I'd go back there in a Minnesota minute.  (That's a loooong minute.:-)


    The Mayo Clinic (none / 0) (#31)
    by Zorba on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 01:55:02 PM EST
    has long been known for excellent results with good cost-effectiveness.  Unfortunately, not everyone can get to the Mayo Clinic- they may be too sick, too poor, too far away.  

    Agreed, we're a long drive away (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by Towanda on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 02:00:25 PM EST
    with costs for overnight stays on the way there, as we were not among the sheiks and such who had their private planes land there.  The clientele was something to see.

    But what I also saw was that my daughter, the daughter of nobodies, got the same great treatment as did the princesses of nobility.  

    And I saw that such treatment did not need to be costly.  It just required common courtesies and common sense that could be available anywhere, if we cared to do so.

    There 'tis.


    Mayo and Medicare (none / 0) (#37)
    by MO Blue on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 02:01:43 PM EST
    Mayo In Minnesota payer mix (none / 0) (#44)
    by samsguy18 on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 02:24:51 PM EST
    Their patient mix is high in private insurance low on medicare and almost nil in medicaid. Large city academic hospitals serve more medicaid, medicare and chronically ill patients. They are lucky if 30% of their patient mix is private insurance. Re-Arizona...obviously they have a huge retirement community.  

    My coverage is Medicare and HMO. (none / 0) (#60)
    by oculus on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 03:38:48 PM EST
    Got to stay w/i the group, unless they refer me to outside specialist they don't have or for second opinion.  

    I'm sorry, oculus (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by Zorba on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 05:03:49 PM EST
    Tell me again why we don't have some form of universal health care, like almost every other so-called "first-world" countries (and some that we don't consider "first-world")?

    I have a lot of confidence in this group. (5.00 / 0) (#69)
    by oculus on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 05:28:44 PM EST
    Otherwise I would change to more expensive (to me) coverage as my back up to Medicare.  

    Any senior who undergoes regular (5.00 / 2) (#40)
    by MO Blue on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 02:15:58 PM EST
    treatment for medical conditions will experience a reduction in their spendable income from these changes. BTW the sentence should read:

    "The hope is that exposing seniors to higher out-of-pocket costs would make them a little more wary of getting the actual care that they have paid to get."

    Once again, a boon to the insurance industry who will continue I'm sure to charge the same premiums for high deductible Medigap policies.

    Also, seniors please be aware that you will sacrifice first dollar coverage so that corporations and the mega rich can have lower marginal tax rates.

    Changes to Medicaid

    The administration would also modify the scheme for financing Medicaid, calling upon states to kick in a bit more money. The danger of the "blended rate," as it's known, is that states would react by weakening the program. It's the reason Medicaid advocates (like yours truly) were none too happy when this appeared in a previous administration proposals. But this latest version is much smaller, accounting for just $15 billion in savings - an amount that seems unlikely to do much damage.

    Also this is Obama's starting position and not as some seem to think the final outcome of Obama's ongoing push to cut domestic and safety net programs.  


    As someone who (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by Zorba on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 05:06:29 PM EST
    will be on Medicare in two years, I'm really looking forward to a reduction in my spendable income.  Not.  :-(

    Prior to going on Medicare, (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by MO Blue on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 05:43:01 PM EST
    the money I paid in insurance premiums and deductibles for medical services exceeded my retirement income. The excess plus all of my living expenses had to come out of savings. My savings would not have lasted for very long if that had continued.

    Under Obama's proposal many limited income seniors will be forced to chose between receiving needed medical care and being able to pay for their every day living expenses. Depending on how they structure the additional premiums, out of pocket expenses and the surcharge on Medigap premiums, it may well take a big chunk out of my limited income.

    BTW, as far as I'm concerned I already pay a surcharge to have a Medigap policy with "first-dollar" coverage. It is called paying a higher monthly premium for that coverage.

    Note to Jonathon Cohen of TNR:  The fact that these changes, like the changes to Part B premiums, would not start until 2017 does not make them them any better. Also, to you, Jon, these changes may not represent "significant benefit cuts" but to seniors on a limited income or the poor person who may not receive Medicaid, these changes will be very significant.    


    Reduction in spendable income? Try reduction (5.00 / 2) (#81)
    by jawbone on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 11:30:21 PM EST
    in not just medical care but ability to pay for food, heat (forget AC in the summer), transportation...anything other than a roof over one's head (with luck) and medical bills.

    Gonna be a whole lotta seniors being dunned by collection agencies and maxing out their credit cards (until they won't be able to have credit cards...), and laods of bankruptcies.

    Future's looking a bit dimmer....

    Hurry up and die time?


    And Arctic ice is melting just when we need those (none / 0) (#82)
    by jawbone on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 11:33:01 PM EST
    ice floes for our elderly....

    Until we do the right thing about health care (none / 0) (#50)
    by samsguy18 on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 02:52:34 PM EST
    Medicare and medicaid patients will be at the mercy of our politicians. Demand will outstrip supply

    That language is what (5.00 / 1) (#75)
    by Madeline on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 07:20:38 PM EST
    pushes the death panel pack.  It's formulaic and stereotypes a segment of society.

    When a physician says you need an MRI because they need more information, does one say....too expensive. Why can't people have the imaging they need? If it is 1500 dollars, and you can't afford it and Medicare has to approve it, well...

    I have seen this system abused but not by patients, by physicians.  Someone should do a research study to determine how many physicians have a financial investment in Imaging centers and how many of the patients are referred there.

    As for doctors bailing out of Medicare, I think some will but in certain areas, a lot of areas, they would have to just quit practicing as Medicare sustains them.


    This is what Lieberman suggested this summer-- (none / 0) (#79)
    by jawbone on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 10:41:30 PM EST
    Damn, I knew he was acting as Obama's stalking horse on this.

    Yes--Lieberman said the elderly were using too many services. He wanted to make everyone pay far more up front before ANY Medicare payments would kick in. He wants the elderly to pay more for care so they will use less of it.

    And hurry up and die...?

    Trudy Lieberman wrote about this in the Columbia Journalism Review in July:  Joe Lieberman and his Medicare Gift.

    The plan is deceptively referred to as "Medicare benefit simplification," says Joe Baker, who heads the Medicare Rights Center, a New York City advocacy group. "What they are proposing is not simplifying the benefit to help consumers but to save the federal government money, and they do that by increasing costs to consumers and providing a disincentive to use medical services." Lieberman et al want to create a single deductible of $550 for all Medicare services, replacing the separate hospital deductible--this year $1132--and the separate medical deductible of $162. They also want to cap out-of-pocket spending for people with low to middling incomes at $7500.

    Those with higher incomes would have to pay more out-of-pocket in a further effort to means-test the program. There's already some means testing in Medicare, but Lieberman's proposal would add more. For example, under his plan, people with an income of $85,000 would have to pay $12,500 out-of-pocket, or about 15 percent of their income before collecting benefits. Experts have long feared that as those with higher incomes pay more, they will lose their support for the program and opt out for private market coverage--thus weakening Medicare's risk pool, which makes it possible to insure sick people in their old age.

    Baker says a lower, combined deductible is not a good idea. It would raise out-of-pocket costs for millions of beneficiaries who don't use hospital services during the year. But nearly all seniors go to the doctor, often several times a year, and Lieberman's plan would require them to pay a $550 deductible instead of the $162 deductible they pay now for physician services. Under current law, they also pay 20 percent of the bills for doctor services, but Medigap policies, the popular ones at least, cover that amount.

    That brings up another goal of Lieberman's plan--to reduce the amount of coverage Medigap insurance can provide. His plan would forbid Medigap policies, which are owned by some ten million seniors, from paying that deductible. All Medigap policies now cover the hospital deductible, and two of them--Plans F and C--cover the medical deductible. Two-thirds of seniors who have Medigaps buy these plans because they want to reduce their risk of out-of-pocket expenses. Over the last few years, under the guise of consumer choice, Congress has authorized insurers to sell new Medigap plans that cost less but don't cover as many of the holes. Guess what? Older people don't seem to buy them. "Seniors are very risk averse," says Bonnie Burns, a policy specialist with California Health Advocates.

    It's worth noting that Congress also pulled a fast one during the health reform debate. It slipped into the law a provision that will make seniors who buy Plans C and F assume more costs for their medical services. The law calls on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to draft rules that would make seniors who choose Plans C and F pay a greater percentage of the Part B coinsurance. So, for example, instead of policies paying the entire 20 percent coinsurance as they now do, they may cover only a fraction of it. Campaign Desk has repeatedly noted that the pols haven't been eager to promote this, but there has been little press interest, too.

    Under Lieberman's bill, Medigap policies could cover only half of a senior's out-of-pocket costs up to the $7500. In other words, they would have to pay $3750 right off the bat before any insurance would be allowed to kick in. And if they have an existing Medigap plan that does pay those costs, the government would slap them with an excise tax. One couple I know now pays $3720 for two Medigap policies that covers each of them and pays for everything. They would have to pay the tax, drop their policies, and each cough up the first $3750 to pay expenses, plus a premium for the new policy and a higher Medicare premium for Part B, which covers doctor services and hospital outpatient care. Lieberman's plan would raise that, too.

    Making people pay a lot more is precisely what Lieberman and other pols want. He cites studies showing that when people have to pay more for their care, they will use less of it [D'uh!!!], and claims his proposal will reduce the debt and "save more than $600 billion over 10 years." In his press release he says: "We can only save Medicare if we change it. Our plan contains some strong medicine but that's what it will take to keep Medicare alive."

    The devil is in the details....

    Do not trust anything Obama says which leaves wiggle room or has weasel terms.



    Lieberman floated the first Medicare to 67 balloon (5.00 / 1) (#80)
    by jawbone on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 10:50:10 PM EST
    $12,500 out-of-pocket is turning Medicare (5.00 / 1) (#83)
    by MO Blue on Tue Sep 20, 2011 at 01:12:33 AM EST
    coverage into catastrophic only insurance. Most catastrophic insurance policies now only have a $10,000 deductible.  IOW this would turn Medicare into junk insurance.

    Also, I didn't know that they include this provision in the POS legislation that Obama has the nerve to call health care reform. Will have to call my Medigap provider and find out how this will effect me.

    Congress also pulled a fast one during the health reform debate. It slipped into the law a provision that will make seniors who buy Plans C and F assume more costs for their medical services.

    Canceling pink slip for "just words"? (5.00 / 4) (#15)
    by Towanda on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 12:49:49 PM EST
    Not me.

    But then, I've been watching politics for most of my life, half a century, so I know the difference between speeches and actions.  

    Speeches are about as solid as styrofoam pillars.  And we have seen, again and again, promises made in speeches tossed in the garbage as fast as were those styrofoam pillars.

    The pink slip is still on hold with me.  I'm the sort who wants to see a serious attempt at some good ol' political arm-twisting.  If truly serious politicking of that sort doesn't work with the idiot Repubs, that's different.  But I certainly don't expect the opposition to bow down and offer "hosannas" at an Obama speech the way that his fans do.  So I need to see more.

    More than words (none / 0) (#51)
    by christinep on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 03:01:04 PM EST
    After 50 years of observing politics, Towanda, you discern well the need for arm-twisting. Likewise, as an obersver & player in the political field about the same amount of time, I always look for the pressure points, the "strong persuasion" points as it were. During a phone conversation today, a good friend raised the same point...she noted how much in accord she was with the jobs propoposal in the American Jobs Act and, now, how much she felt enlivened by this a.m.'s proposal...then, she recapped her back & forth with Obama, etc. etc. & wondered where this all goes.

    For myself, natch, the combo proposals met what so many in our party have longed for. As for that extra push, here is what I expect: The President should drive the message of the jobs proposal together with the "fair share" message of the tax reform home day after day until he is hoarse (& we can all recite it in our sleep.) Given that so-called earmarks are somewhat relegated to days of old for now & given that the rightist-of-the-right Repub Congress has circumscribed some traditional forms of the twisting of body parts, I think that the delivery of the message continually on the hustings, in interviews, thru surrogates & press secretary can be a useful tool. While, as you know, he cannot wave the wand to "magic" a quick favorable vote, he can use & must use modern communication technology to re-inforce this message. Do you look for other DC-based arm-twisting that might be helpful? Ideas?

    The "This isn't class warfare. It's math" finally seems to be a genuine statement that we can all remember because it rings true. If it was a slow-grow strategy (contingency or otherwise) that led us and Obama to this wonder-point where the differences between the Democratic & Repupblican values can be seen in stark relief, I applaud the finesse with the strategy that has culminated in boxing-in the Repubs to where they have to defend billionaires in our economy (that they created) and have to instigate any harmful changes ala Paul Ryan's voucher program for Medicare.

    It may be "words," but they are words that connect. From your standpoint, consistency & determination from the WH & Congress here on out must meet the test you set.  


    Yes, unrelenting day-after-day (none / 0) (#54)
    by Towanda on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 03:12:09 PM EST
    hammering of the message is a basic, by Obama and by other Dems, who must stay on message on this.  That has not been the Dem way, so we will see -- while I am seeing Ryan and others staying on their message day after day (I watch him closely, having lived near his district in past).  Let's hope that Ryan doing so will keep the Dems doing so, and on offense rather than defense.

    But there is arm-twisting to do.  As has been noted here by others, Obama can pledge a veto, for example.  And he and others can tell us what arm-twisting they are doing away from the public eye.  For example, we were told that Biden was the VP pick because he knew Congress, had the years of experience there that Obama did not, etc.  However, I have yet to see, in three years, even a mention in media of Biden being unleashed to head to Capitol Hill to do what he is supposed to do.  Why?  He can't do it, after all?  That's something that we ought to know, then, as the next VP selection is discussed.  Or Biden has tried and been rebuffed? If the latter, let out that story about Republican unwillingness to work with him, rather than not leak it so as to look all bipartisan and like the adults in the room.

    Oh, and the administration has got to be sure that all cabinet members stay on this message, too.  Geithner does not go off the reservation, only for us to read later that he was a bad boy.


    The VP (none / 0) (#59)
    by christinep on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 03:35:17 PM EST
    Yes, VP Biden should definitely be tasked with a noticeable role. Interesting comment from a cousin of mine who recently moved from Ohio to Virginia (like me, she hails from Penna coal country north of Harrisburg): The cousin says that she saw Biden talk about jobs in Penna recently, & asked me why he isn't deployed more because "what he had to say was right, it made sense." My cousine, in many ways, reflects mid-Atlantic states' attitudes...maybe Joe Biden is a VP with strong regional appeal in certain areas. (E.g., I know that he has visited Penna a lot on behalf of the WH.)  But, like you, I'd like to see a pronounced effort in the Senate, especially...because a few of the more flaky Dems like Landrieu are starting to make distancing noises about the AJA.

    On Dem Congressionals staying on message: I'm down to my one last nerve on some of them. We need to see this through together.  The only time I even chuckle about the Dem Congress all heading in different directions is when I recall my Dad's quoting humorist Will Rogers--who, when asked if he belonged to a political party--quipped "I don't belong to any organized political party...I'm a Democrat."


    About time (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by mmc9431 on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 01:46:22 PM EST
    I read NY Times poll showing how support for Obama among Democrats was slipping and his year long move to the right hadn't helped him with Independents.

    Maybe he read the poll too!

    If he and the Democrats use the tax increase and hold their ground on S.S. and Medicare they have a very good chance of winning in 2012.

    It just sad that it's taken him three years to realize that he was elected by Democrats as the Democratic president.

    And if safely re-elected, think he will recall (5.00 / 4) (#30)
    by BobTinKY on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 01:53:18 PM EST
    "that he was elected by Democrats as the Democratic president?"

    I do not.  I no longer trust him with my retirement future and believe Medicare/SS has a better chance of withstanding the predicatble GOP attacks than Obama's subterfuge.


    No trust left here (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by mmc9431 on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 02:16:54 PM EST
    I certainly don't trust Obama. I have more faith in the Democrats in Congress to hold the line. They're more concerned about holding on to their office than he is about retaining the presidency.

    I wonder if this sudden backbone is a result of pressure from within.


    This is all about retaining the Presidency (5.00 / 2) (#43)
    by BobTinKY on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 02:21:19 PM EST
    and it is worth as much as the promises of 2008, e.g., a public option, ending the war in Iraq, closing Guantanamo, letting Bush tax cuts expire, hodling banks accountable etc.

    There's no backbone, just telling the voters who he had mistakenly believed would back him because he is purportedly a Dem, what those voters want to hear.


    A rock and a hard place (none / 0) (#46)
    by mmc9431 on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 02:34:59 PM EST
    No one could ever accuse me of being an Obama supporter. He was wrong for the times and needs of the country. The country was, and still is, in a total mess and needed a strong decisive leader.

    That said. I do think if he holds his ground (that a big if!) there's at least a chance of S.S. and Medicare surviving.

    If we end up with a Republican president and Congress it's almost a certainty that they'll be gutted.

    Hopefully we'll be able to elect some real Democrats to Congress in 2012 and reclaim our party.


    My question: (5.00 / 0) (#49)
    by lentinel on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 02:46:11 PM EST
    Hopefully we'll be able to elect some real Democrats to Congress in 2012 and reclaim our party.

    Are any "real democrats" running?
    Methinks that would be a precondition for electing them.


    You would think so! (5.00 / 2) (#57)
    by mmc9431 on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 03:28:08 PM EST
    However the facts seem to dispute it. When you have Democrat's cheering that they bucked the unions and other insisting on pro life legislation being included in the health care bill, it does cause one to wonder.

    My hope is that the voter backlash that Democrats are currently experiencing will serve as a wake up call to the party to return to it's roots.

    The tent can only be so big.


    I am FAR less worried (5.00 / 2) (#32)
    by sj on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 01:56:12 PM EST
    about the actual election.  It's after the election that I see some real damage coming down the pike.

    My sentiments (5.00 / 2) (#48)
    by lentinel on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 02:43:24 PM EST

    We're being fed the same line as before the first election.

    All the dreadful rightward twists that Obama took were dismissed on the proposed grounds that he "had" to do or say these things to be elected.

    So he was elected, and lo and behold, these rightward tilts were indeed expressions of his true political inclinations.

    Just think about it: He was safely elected - and he presents us with Rick Warren at his inaugural. A true insult.

    And then he sends 20,000 more souls into the pit of Afghanistan.

    And his attorney general, Mr. Holder, tells us that we need the patriot act "more than ever".

    You know the litany.
    It has been a story of daily affronts to the sensibilities of what were once referred to as Democrats.

    So, I go the opposite direction.

    The people on the side of giving Obama another four years of power propose that once unfettered, he will reveal himself as the Democratic icon that they think he is. (Why they hold to this fantasy would be the subject for an extended psychological conference.)

    I, on the other hand, think that he has amply revealed his true disposition countless times during these wretched three years and that, "unfettered", we had better run for cover.


    If you want to "run for cover," lentinel (2.00 / 1) (#53)
    by christinep on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 03:11:57 PM EST
    that is surely your prerogative, lentinel
    And so, here comes the question: Who gives you cover?  Are you looking to Romney or Perry or let-everyone-fend-for-himself Paul, etc., for this cover? Or is this a variation on "I don't like anybodey" or "Nothing that Obama (or any named person does) is good enough for me" or "The can all go to #%$*" or some form of angry disappointment?

    Note: In advance, I acknowledge that this comment may be construed as provocative. OTOH, in view of combined statements that you have made--including imaginations of what the plan from the WH would be--my comment here is more than warranted.


    oy (5.00 / 2) (#56)
    by sj on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 03:21:11 PM EST
    Sounds like a sensible plan. (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by lyzurgyk on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 02:01:27 PM EST

    Now let's see how hard Obama fights for it.

    I never (none / 0) (#45)
    by lentinel on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 02:32:11 PM EST
    had any faith in Obama.
    His presidency has confirmed what my senses were telling me.

    I wonder how many of these proposals require waiting until after the election of 2012 to see whether or not they will take effect.

    And as you say, lyzurgyk, will he fight for anything or anybody that is not part of the entrenched power block that currently controls everyone's behavior?

    Obama can rely on the atrocious choices being offered by the other majority party - and the consequent fear engendered in what is laughingly referred to as "his base" - as catalysts for his reelection.

    And now, he is throwing a few bones our way to make pulling the lever for him somewhat more palatable.

    I just don't believe anything he says.


    perhaps a higher level of cynicism is an (5.00 / 1) (#70)
    by cpinva on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 05:42:41 PM EST
    occupational hazard with me, but i'm holding my pink slip in reserve, just in case.

    To Quote Kim Possible - So the Drama (none / 0) (#16)
    by Dan the Man on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 12:50:02 PM EST

    UNLESS GOP consents to tax hikes (none / 0) (#24)
    by BobTinKY on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 01:43:57 PM EST
    in which case Obama's open to Medicare and SS cuts including raising eligibility age.

    Pretty much where we were.  He still wnats his grand bargain and will barter away Medicare & SS to get it.

    Jeralyn, you have created a (none / 0) (#39)
    by the capstan on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 02:09:37 PM EST
    Frankenstein: this 'democratic blog' has turned into a 'liberal blog.'  If you can stomach us, it is a jewel!