Monday, July 27, 2015

The Republican Dream of Killing Medicare

For a political party that claims to uphold Christian values - which one would think should include the Gospel message of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and caring for the sick - today's Republican Party has an obsession with throwing as many Americans as possible into the gutter, including the elderly.  The GOP's claim of being "pro-life" only lasts until a fetus is born and thereafter party policies are aimed at making life as squalid and difficult as possible.  In the Scrooge like agenda, the GOP is fully supported by the Christofascists who seemingly want anyone who isn't one of them to simply die off.  A column in the New York Times looks at this GOP obsession and Jeb Bush's double speak on his goal of harming older Americans.  Here are excerpts:

Medicare turns 50 this week, and it has been a very good half-century. Before the program went into effect, Ronald Reagan warned that it would destroy American freedom; it didn’t, as far as anyone can tell. What it did do was provide a huge improvement in financial security for seniors and their families, and in many cases it has literally been a lifesaver as well.
But the right has never abandoned its dream of killing the program. So it’s really no surprise that Jeb Bush recently declared that while he wants to let those already on Medicare keep their benefits, “We need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others.”
In this, as in other spheres, Mr. Bush often seems like a Rip Van Winkle who slept through everything that has happened since he left the governor’s office — after all, he’s still boasting about Florida’s housing-bubble boom. There are two things to say about this claim. First, it’s clearly false: in context, Mr. Bush was obviously talking about converting Medicare into a voucher system, along the lines proposed by Paul Ryan.
And second, while raising the Medicare age has long been a favorite idea of Washington’s Very Serious People, a couple of years ago the Congressional Budget Office did a careful study and discovered that it would hardly save any money. That is, at this point raising the Medicare age is a zombie idea, which should have been killed by analysis and evidence, but is still out there eating some people’s brains.
The real reason conservatives want to do away with Medicare has always been political: It’s the very idea of the government providing a universal safety net that they hate, and they hate it even more when such programs are successful. But when they make their case to the public they usually shy away from making their real case, and have even, incredibly, sometimes posed as the program’s defenders against liberals and their death panels.
What Medicare’s would-be killers usually argue, instead, is that the program as we know it is unaffordable — that we must destroy the system in order to save it, that, as Mr. Bush put it, we must “move to a new system that allows [seniors] to have something — because they’re not going to have anything.” And the new system they usually advocate is, as I said, vouchers that can be applied to the purchase of private insurance.
Medicare costs per beneficiary have consistently grown more slowly than private insurance premiums, suggesting that Medicare is, if anything, better than private insurers at cost control. Furthermore, other wealthy countries Still, conservatives scoffed at the cost-control measures included in the Affordable Care Act, insisting that nothing short of privatization would work.
And then a funny thing happened: the act’s passage was immediately followed by an unprecedented pause in Medicare cost growth. Indeed, Medicare spending keeps coming in ever further below expectations . . .
Right now is, in other words, a very odd time to be going on about the impossibility of preserving Medicare, a program whose finances will be strained by an aging population but no longer look disastrous. One can only guess that Mr. Bush is unaware of all this, that he’s living inside the conservative information bubble, whose impervious shield blocks all positive news about health reform.
Meanwhile, what the rest of us need to know is that Medicare at 50 still looks very good.  . . . The only real threat it faces is that of attack by right-wing zombies.

1 comment:

EdA said...

And, unless I am very much mistaken, the major contributor to increased costs for Medicare is the very Republiscum crony capitalism of Medicare Part D, through which the taxpayer is required to pay drug companies whatever they want.

This is associated with increasing cesspool of drug prices increasing for no particular reason except for greed. And, to my thinking, exasperated by the increasing amount of dollars going to foreign drug companies -- whose own governments would never tolerate this price-gouging.