Saturday, November 19, 2016

Paul Ryan and his fellow zombies are going to eat your Medicare

Do you depend on Medicare? Of course you do, probably. Most residents of Green Valley do in one way or another. What if it went away? What if you were given $4,000 to replace it? Would that work for you? I doubt it. And what if all that was accompanied by a greatly scaled back (or repealed) Obamacare? Want to try to buy health insurance for $4K? Get ready for the biggest political battle in 50 years. You are now warned about The coming Assault on Medicare (aka “vouchercare” - AZBlueMeanie) by The Medicare Killers (Paul Krugman).

Here’s some of Krugman’s column.

During the campaign, Donald Trump often promised to be a different kind of Republican, one who would represent the interests of working-class voters who depend on major government programs. “I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid,” he declared, under the headline “Why Donald Trump Won’t Touch Your Entitlements.”

It was, of course, a lie. The transition team’s point man on Social Security is a longtime advocate of privatization, and all indications are that the incoming administration is getting ready to kill Medicare, replacing it with vouchers that can be applied to the purchase of private insurance. Oh, and it’s also likely to raise the age of Medicare eligibility.

So it’s important not to let this bait-and-switch happen before the public realizes what’s going on.

Three points in particular need to be made as loudly as possible.

First, the attack on Medicare will be one of the most blatant violations of a campaign promise in history. …

…the second point: While Medicare is an essential program for a great majority of Americans, it’s especially important for the white working-class voters who supported Mr. Trump most strongly. …

… my third point. People like Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, have often managed to bamboozle the media into believing that their efforts to dismantle Medicare and other programs are driven by valid economic concerns. They aren’t.

This latter one is especially important in the larger context of health care in America.

It has been obvious for a long time that Medicare is actually more efficient than private insurance, mainly because it doesn’t spend large sums on overhead and marketing, and, of course, it needn’t make room for profits.

What’s not widely known is that the cost-saving measures included in the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, have been remarkably successful in their efforts to “bend the curve” — to rein in the long-term rise in Medicare expenses. In fact, since 2010 Medicare outlays per beneficiary have risen only 1.4 percent a year, less than the inflation rate. This success is one main reason long-term budget projections have dramatically improved.

So absent Medicare, we are all going to get shafted when the second shoe drops and almost all provisions of Obamacare are eliminated. That measly $4K will get eaten up by the renewed rising costs of health insurance that were controlled by the Affordable Care Act.

So why try to destroy this successful program, which is in important respects doing better than ever? The main answer, from the point of view of people like Mr. Ryan, is probably that Medicare is in the cross hairs precisely because of its success: It would be very helpful for opponents of government to do away with a program that clearly demonstrates the power of government to improve people’s lives.

And there’s an additional benefit to the right from Medicare privatization: It would create a lot of opportunities for private profits, earned by diverting dollars that could have been used to provide health care.

In summary, then, privatizing Medicare would betray a central promise of the Trump campaign, would specifically betray the interests of the voter bloc that thought it had found a champion, and would be terrible policy.

Get your pens out, sharpen your pencils, crank up your word processor, and let fly with a barrage of letters to editors and FB posts and tweets.

What’s crucial now is to make sure that voters do, in fact, realize what’s going on. And this isn’t just a job for politicians. It’s also a chance for the news media, which failed so badly during the campaign, to start doing its job.

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