Congress, Be Careful How You ‘Fix’ Medicare
Regarding the Medicare prescription bill, Nov. 17-18: Let’s see -- from the first $3,600, you will still pay the first $275, then $481.25 out of the next $1,925, then all of the next $1,400 (the so-called doughnut), then on top of that a new additional premium charge of $420 -- oh, never mind, you will pay $2,576.25, or 71.5% of that $3,600. The Republican Medicare plan will pay less than 29%, and even after that it is not true coverage, because you still have a co-pay.
For that, private insurance companies will get to cherry-pick healthy seniors, taking their money out of the Medicare program. That is, for as long as they are healthy. Once they start getting sick and expensive, those private plans get to dump those seniors back into Medicare.
I am tired of people who say Medicare and Social Security are going broke. The fact is, Medicare and Social Security have been generating hundreds of billions of surpluses for many years -- surpluses that have been used to prop up the federal government’s other, non-Social Security, non-Medicare programs such as the Pentagon and the war in Iraq, which are definitely not paying for themselves.
The future relevance of the Democratic Party will depend on whether it prevents the privatization of Medicare, which is the first step to completely eliminating the entire program. Medicare, which was initiated by President Truman and later signed into law by President Johnson, is a basic bedrock principle of the Democratic Party. Republicans do not like Medicare, never have, never will, so it must be saved by the Democrats.
However, their record as the opposition party is not encouraging. They caved in on the Bush tax cuts. Four of their potential presidential candidates voted for the Iraq war. They have just lost the governorship of this state. With a few exceptions, Democrats seem to have developed a terminal case of lockjaw when it comes to defending their basic principles. If Medicare is not saved, how can the Democrats justify their existence as a political party?
Terry L. Malone
Congress appears poised to pass a Medicare bill that opens the program up to competition by private insurance companies. In fact, the billions of dollars in incentives to private insurers make it pretty impossible for the traditional program of government coverage to compete. Doesn’t anyone remember the great California experiment of opening up workers’ compensation coverage to competition with private insurance companies a few years ago? We had a program that worked great, but now it is bankrupt and so are many employers and some of the insurers. It is a classic example of the truth of the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
We have a popular Medicare program that works pretty darned well, except for the absence of prescription coverage. Please don’t let Congress “fix” Medicare.