Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Recent Historical Look at the Republicans Attempt to Dismantle Medicare

It appears seniors were less concerned about the actual draconian cuts to Medicare proposed by Bush and the Republican Congress, then when Obama and the Democrats are proposing expanding coverage and trying to provide even better care than before. It all hinges on who might be the better salesman. Hands down, with an element of fear mongering, it's the Republicans. It wasn't so long ago Republicans accused Democrats of scary seniors about Medicare cuts. But after a little research from a stack of saved word docs, I came up with the following:

Wisconsin State Journal: "January 12, 2006-State Rep. Mike Huebsch says One issue the state needs to address is health care, and one of the biggest problems is government involvement.“We promised ourselves more then we can afford,” he said. Medicare and Medicaid are great services, but the programs promise too many services and benefits, Huebsch said."

Feb. 3, 2007 AP: "President Bush warned ... programs like Medicare and Social Security (have to be) changed ... $70 billion in cuts to these programs ... White House budget director Rob Portman said that Bush's plan will result in a budget surplus in 2012. That's assuming strong growth in tax revenues (and) continued cuts to ... Medicare and the Medicaid health care program for the poor and disabled. President Bush proposes to curb payments to health care providers, such as hospitals."

Sorry, Unsourced: April 6, 2005 : "The Bush administration has told states that they cannot steer Medicare beneficiaries to any specific prescription drug plan, even if state officials find plans that would provide the best deals for elderly people with low-incomes.
The federal advisory commission, appointed by Tommy Thompson, said states should be allowed ... " But the Bush administration rejected that recommendation saying putting low-income people in a better low cost preferred plans would violate a persons freedom of choice and undermining competition among private insurers."

It appears fiscal Republican believe their "freedoms," the same argument you're hearing today, will be lost if American's are allowed the "freedom" to save money in low cost plans. Bottom line: It isn't about saving American's money, it's about "free market" profits. And they said it had nothing to do with ideology.

The Trojan Horse by Paul Krugman, 11/14/2003
"A Congressional conference is now trying to agree on prescription drug legislation ... That makes a prescription drug bill a perfect vehicle for smuggling in provisions that sound as if they have something to do with improving Medicare, yet are actually designed to undermine it.. another proposal (in the legislation) — to force Medicare to compete with private insurers — seems intended to undermine the whole system. This proposal goes under the name of "premium support." Medicare would no longer cover whatever medical costs an individual faced; instead, retirees would receive a lump sum to buy private insurance. (Those who opted to remain with the traditional system would have to pay extra premiums.)"

AP: Cecile Sangiamo liked her health insurance - until she needed to use it. The 72-year-old resident had been on the federally subsidized, privately run Medicare Advantage policy through WellCare Inc. for about three years when she started having pain that made it hard to walk. Her doctor's referral to an orthopedic specialist was denied by the insurer. Her out-of-pocket costs were higher than she was initially told. And when Sangiamo needed surgery, she said, WellCare offered some unexpected medical advice. "Take pills and use a walker."

Profits at the insurers offering Medicare Advantage have far outpaced expectations, and their expenses to treat clients have been far lower than projected. Advantage has been criticized as an example of a broken system that costs too much, confuses enrollees and suffers from a lack of oversight.

Government payouts for Advantage of $111 billion a year and, on average, 14 percent more per patient than traditional Medicare ... Participants have been denied visits to specialists, rehabilitation to help them walk again and countless other services they'd be entitled to under traditional Medicare. "Every decision is based on not what's right for the patient, but what's right for the bottom line," said Dr. Michael Sedrish, who coordinates HMO payments for Medisys Health Network, which runs three New York City hospitals.

In 2003, the government added lucrative subsidies for insurers, now totaling more than $15 billion a year.

Where were the objections from seniors back then? Why couldn't the Democrats get the same kind of angry reaction from seniors to the real threat to Medicare, at a time when the Repubicans were attempting to dismantle it?

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