NY Times: Don't Believe Republicans on Medicare

The New York Times has an editorial today on Obama and Romney/Ryan's dueling and confusing positions on Medicare. It fact checks the major points and concludes:

In the Medicare arena, the choice is between a Democratic approach that wants to retain Medicare as a guaranteed set of benefits with the government paying its share of the costs even if costs rise, and a Republican approach that wants to limit the government’s spending to a defined level, relying on untested market forces to drive down insurance costs.

The reform law is starting pilot programs to test ways to reduce Medicare costs without cutting benefits. Many health care experts have identified additional ways to shave hundreds of billions of dollars from projected spending over the next decade without harming beneficiaries.

It is much less likely that the Republicans, who have long wanted to privatize Medicare, can achieve these goals.

Paul Ryan speaks out of both sides of his mouth. He isn't going to protect Medicare. Since Romney/Ryan won't tell the truth about Medicare, why would Americans believe them about anything?

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    Oh, and (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Ga6thDem on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 05:39:19 AM EST
    I think the Dems should say well, Ryan says he's not going to take away Medicare for those over 55 but even he says he's going to take it away from those under 55. Why would you trust somebody that's going to take it away from your brothers and sisters and children to not take it away from you?

    First Medicare, Then Social Security (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by john horse on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 07:46:34 AM EST
    Why would you trust somebody that's going to take it away from your brothers and sisters and children to not take it away from you?

    The Republicans plan is all divide and conquer.  Start by turning those under 55 against those over 55.  Create "reforms" that will presumably "save" the program but will, in fact, destroy the program.  Everyone sacrifices except those at the very top.  

    Republicans like Romney and Ryan have no interest in saving Medicare because they are philosophically opposed to those programs.  They do not think that the role of government is to help people (see Ayn Rand).


    Divide & Conquer (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by christinep on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 12:33:21 PM EST
    That technique is exactly what is going on with regard to Medicare now...and public emplyees vs emplyees, in general in Wisconsin earlier this year as well as in many locales (especially with Repub governors) throughout the country.  After the Bush fail in moving towed Social Security privatization in 2005, it seems that the divide approach now is to focus on generational division.  

    I'm guessing that--sooner rather than later--a substantial group of seniors will conclude that this proposed con would only buy a few years before the entire Medicare system would collapse under the lack of fiscal support brought about by the latest Romney/Ryan scam.  Good for the NYTimes in writing directly about the claims in sharp contrast to other news sources that merely parrot Repub claims about Medicare without any analysis.  Together with some of the concerns being voiced by AARP, maybe the latest Repub tactic will be short-lived.

    Meanwhile...the Divide & Conquer strategy employed from Wisconsin to Medicare sure has the mark of ol' Mr. Rove all over it as it takes the weakest aspect of a position & shoves it unabashedly into a reality-defying offense.


    It's like their approach to global (none / 0) (#4)
    by observed on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 06:00:55 AM EST
    If it's cold outside today, we know there is no global warming. If it's warm outside today, it's within normal variations.

    Paul Ryan and snow.... (none / 0) (#14)
    by DFLer on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 02:05:33 PM EST
    from his Cong. Website

    Despite widespread concerns that the federal government is growing too large, too fast, Washington renewed its push this week to expand its authority to limit economic production in the hope of restricting greenhouse gas emissions. Unilateral economic restraint in the name of fighting global warming has been a tough sell in our communities, where much of the state is buried under snow and, more importantly, unemployment in the city of Racine remains over 14%. Lawmakers must carefully weigh the costs and benefits of new environmental regulation and make certain that job creation and sustained economic recovery remain our top priority.

    Guess John Boehner was wrong (none / 0) (#15)
    by CoralGables on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 02:40:23 PM EST
    Ryan really is a knuckle dragger like most of the GOP.

    We just had the hottest July in this country since they started keeping records 117 years ago.


    It ain't broke, so why are they so (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by Anne on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 09:20:27 AM EST
    determined to "fix" it?  Worse, why are they so determined to fix it with methods that will fulfill their long-standing desire to end it?  Why so much interest in putting public programs in the hand of a private sector that has managed to prove time and again that it only cares about taking its cut of our money regardless of whether we ever get any benefit from it, - or worse - that their greed inspires them to find ways to make money that destroy our investments?

    And why in the name of all that is good and holy have Obama and the Dems opened that door by agreeing in principle that these programs do need some fixing?

    So many questions...no good answers.

    Medicare is a program that works because a younger demographic is constantly being absorbed into it, balancing out the risks of the aging at the other end of the spectrum.  Together with Social Security, it has kept millions of older Americans out of poverty, which in itself has a beneficial effect on their health.  In what world does it make sense for people a,fter years of hard work and playing by the rules, tp be forced to live lives of poverty and poor health because they are at the mercy of a private sector only interested in feasting on their bones?

    It's a given for me that Republicans are not to be believed or trusted; the current architect of the plan to end Medicare has made his agenda known - nothing that comes out of his mouth can or should be believed, no matter how reassuring he tries to make it or how many experts vouch for it.

    The only way to close the door on that madness is for Obama and the Dems to step up and refuse to buy into any of it - not the rhetoric, not the principle, none of it.  I wish I saw that happening, but I really don't.

    Give Republicans an inch and they will own the yardstick; would that, on this issue, Obama didn't seem to believe that we need to share the yardstick, allow Republicans to at least own some of it, concede an inch here and an inch there.

    But that's not how he rolls, which makes me fear we are all going to get rolled, either by one side or the other - or both.  Eventually.

    Which makes me fear We are all going to get rolled (none / 0) (#7)
    by samsguy18 on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 10:27:08 AM EST
    By one side or the other..."You Betcha" !  Medicare is a good program delivering as good a product as the private sector.Medicaid is a terrible program.  The waste and corruption is a real problem in Medicare....much worse in Medicaid.

    R&R's instant defense (5.00 / 3) (#11)
    by KeysDan on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 11:50:26 AM EST
    to naming  Ryan as running mate, was to obfuscate and confuse, using the most effective means to do so-- work around a kernel of truth.  It is true that the CBO analysis  for the period 2013 to 2022 projects reduced spending on Medicare of $716 billion--with those reductions offsetting spending on other ACA programs and providing new services to Medicare, such as closure of the drug "donut hole" and reduced or no co-pays for certain preventative procedures (e.g. colonoscopies).  

    The $7l6 billion is not lopped off of Medicare, but rather, results from proposed changes meant to lower future costs for services.  The "cuts" center around reduced reimbursements to hospitals, nursing and other providers (not physicians).  Changes include reductions in Medicare Advantage, started by W. Bush as a pilot program for a "quasi-privatization" method, but the richer benefits and administrative costs have proved more expensive than traditional Medicare.

    Medicare Advantage enrollees that are no longer satisfied are eligible for traditional Medicare.  Other "savings" from Medicare are to derive from changes, primarily based on pilot programs such as movement from fee-for-service and checks on lab and other tests.  The tally of these costs over 10 years ($716 billion) is based, therefore, on the reduction of future Medicare spending.

    The $716 billion does not affect benefits, but it is true, in my view, that some of the changes instituted over time will impact in a real or perceived manner, reductions in benefits.  All the more reason for the Obama administration to back off additional changes to Medicare as part of any grand bargain, for in keeping with ACA, the pilot and other studies should be allowed to take their economic and patient care course.

    As for the R&R plan, or at least in the second R's budget the $716 billion is cut from Medicare not to be seen again in support of health care/insurance.   And the first R claims to be on the same page as the second R, although he may be using a different edition as the sun sets.  And, as for the new and improved  R &R &R ex-Medicare, that is a horse of different color.

    Why, indeed, would we believe the R&r's (none / 0) (#1)
    by fishcamp on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 02:11:53 AM EST
    on Medicare?  The idea of vouchers to pay for services has never worked for anything I can remember.  They will be traded, sold, forged, until they get cancelled  and we have no Medicare.  There are many ways to cut costs.  They could probably save a couple of billion dollars if they sent just two pieces of paper instead of four with every procedure or pill that we receive.  My hospital just charged $19K for a twenty minute heart ultra sound test.  I feel like reporting them.  Medicare will not break down if we start using it sensibly and the R's don't sound sensible to me.  I hope my one vote counts.

    Your $19K charge is called up coding (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by samsguy18 on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 10:43:30 AM EST
    Depending on the hospital....the institution ...the technician...the doctor etc...this charge will vary ...there is no standardization of fees......as long as fee for service is procedure and service driven where by procedures are more handsomely rewarded than non invasive intervention and prevention...the system will remain the same....the rich get richer and have the political power ( on both sides )

    Thanks for the explanation Sam... (none / 0) (#10)
    by fishcamp on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 11:48:13 AM EST
    When I went to the hospital that morning with severe chest pain they immediately ruled out a stroke or heart attack but kept me for three days of stress tests that finally cost $33K.  They saw I had Medicare with supplemental and they had the machines and doctors ready to go.  After passing several tests I called my Gastroenterologist who performed an esophagus scan which revealed I had an infection in my esophagus period. Just take these antibiotics.   The hospital kept me for another day so they could use every machine they had.  After threatening to escape out the window they finally released me.  While I'm thankful I passed the tests it pisses me off they were able to spend that much Medicare money  with no regulation.  They had to know I didn't need all those expensive tests.

    Medicare being your primary they have specific (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by samsguy18 on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 12:11:23 PM EST
    Reimbursement amounts.......your supplemental will be billed for the contracted difference  and co pays.....the large amounts billed to insured patients are never payed  out by Medicare or the insurance industry....what really upsets me is when you are uninsured you will get billed these  outrageous amounts.

    Agreed. But we really (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by KeysDan on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 10:47:20 AM EST
    do not have to trust R&R, or the larger Rs (Republicans), we just need to look to the past and the future extrapolates itself.  The more blunt speaking Senator Bob Dole, during his campaign against President Clinton in 1996 (along with his running mate Jack Kemp, one of Ryan's mentors) still looked with pride to his "no" vote against Medicare enactment in 1965.

     Of course, in present times, the budget resolutions of Paul Ryan and approved by the Republican House retained the reduction of $716 billion from Medicare, differing from ACA, in that the reduction was not plowed back into health care for Americans, but to finance other aspects of the budget, including more tax cuts for the wealthiest.  

    As for hospital charges, their provenance does seem to be from some dark and mysterious place.  However, Medicare negotiates reimbursements and whatever amount is billed the hospital receives the set amount for the region.  An echocardiogram reimbursement is, on average, about $300, and, perhaps, somewhat more for interpretation.  Private insurance does not have the same negotiating power, and their reimbursement may be, on average, from $300 to $700.


    Honestly (none / 0) (#2)
    by Ga6thDem on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 05:37:36 AM EST
    though BTD all the stuff that the GOP has been doing for the last 20 years why would anyone believe anything they say? They're the ones that made up the whole Mena Airport crap 20 years and their lying continues today. To me this is just the latest lie they are shopping.