The Truth About Congressional Republicans on Medicare

You can’t trust them on this issue and here’s how you know they are deceiving you

You don’t have to be a retiree or even be getting close to retirement age to show some interest in Medicare.  People of all ages are being directly impacted by this necessary social program either as a recipient of its services or as a donor to the costs of it in the form of your FICA deductions on your payroll check.

Medicare is the federally funded health care insurance for people 65 or older.  It provides a health care safety net for those seniors whose retirement income is nil or inadequate to purchase private health insurance.  It may come as no surprise to you that about 95% of us would qualify for Medicare based on this single point.

The biggest reason for this is that health care coverage in the private sector begins to fade for many elderly people as they age, for obvious reasons.  Insurance companies are unwilling to insure people who are more likely than not to have health issues so if they offer anything at all they do so at rates that are beyond the retirement incomes of most Americans.  This reality saw too many people die at earlier ages than they would have if for but basic health care coverage and adequate medications.  So most Americans supported and the government passed the Social Security Act of 1965 that established Medicare and Medicaid to assist the aging and disabled poor in this country.

The benefits are paid through a payroll deduction listed as the Medicare Tax on your paycheck.  Like Social Security this tax goes toward current expenses meaning that when young people today reach retirement age, unless they have been able to set vast amounts aside to cover long-term health care coverage, their benefits will come from the existing crop of the labor market.

It is this factor that sparks this conversation about misinformation your GOP representative will tell you in order to achieve their agenda for dismantling Medicare.  It is true that based on current practices Medicare will become a large burden to the U.S. deficit and a continuing drain on your ever smaller paychecks.  But the devil as usual is in the details.  There is a fix for this that Speaker John Boehner, Paul Ryan and the Tea Party members of the GOP are unwilling to discuss with their constituents.

Costs are getting out of control for Medicare because of two primary factors: Fraud and rising health care costs.  Medicare fraud is the abuse of doctors, hospitals, health care providers and medical supply companies over-charging the government for services rendered, or in some cases, deliberately billing Uncle Sam for non-existent services to both living and deceased Medicare beneficiaries.  Yes, there are scam artists out there that use the social security numbers of deceased beneficiaries to submit fraudulent claims to state Medicare offices.  These abuses of the system cost the U.S. taxpayer as much as $60 billion a year by some estimates.

The new health care reform legislation passed by the Democrats last year attempts to recoup these losses which will strengthen Medicare and keep your tax share between a meager 1-2% of your total gross wages.  The reform legislation saves anywhere from $7 to $14 dollars for every dollar invested to combat fraud, according to one report by AARP.  Yet the Republicans not only battled to prevent this health care legislation from being enacted into law, since winning back the House this last November the GOP is trying to repeal it.

If you want to scare today’s youth about what impacts their wages as they struggle to find a job in today’s market, raise the specter of higher Medicare costs that will be deducted from their shrinking paychecks.  Do  not explain to them that you are not only avoiding efforts to curtail rising health care costs in the private sector which impacts Medicare costs but that you are also trying to prevent measures that will recoup much of what has been lost through abuses by the private sector.

Young people and many middle-aged people who oppose Medicare because of these frightening costs projections by the GOP and their Tea Party mongrels need only look at what their costs would be if they or their elderly parents and grandparents had to pay for everything required to sustain a quality life for them as their health deteriorated.  Obviously many of these seniors are on fixed incomes.  Thanks to Social Security many would not even have these small amounts.

Clearly these assets are insufficient to purchase adequate health insurance coverage from the private sector so that financial burden would fall on kids and grandkids, if they truly care about their aging elders.  We won’t even touch on those elders who perish simply because they have no family and close friends to assist them.  Without control measures to stem the rising costs of private health care, all are at the mercy of an industry that seeks to satisfy its share holders above any need to provide reasonably priced health care for low and middle-income wage earners.

Under this arrangement individuals whose aging parents suffer from long-term diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s would have to front the expense to care for them.  In 2010, 14.9 million family and friends provided 17 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias alone at costs to them estimated at $202.6 billion.  This is prohibitive even for those of moderate means.  Without efforts to reduce health care costs and the help to distribute these high costs across a vast number of people, many older people we love would suffer needlessly and die sooner as a result of the poor health care they would have to endure.

That’s what your meager 1-2% in Medicare taxes alleviates for you and the majority of Americans.  If health care needs are out-pacing the means to pay for them then why not ask your elected official why they don’t either act to curb out-of-control health care costs or even create necessary revenue to insure there is no reduction in services.

There are reforms that we should focus on regarding things like what is necessary as opposed to what is convenient for caregivers, such as expensive redundant procedures that do little more than give them an extra CYA tool in the event there is a lawsuit.  These reforms however touch only the tip of the health care cost iceberg in this country.

Cutting health care costs and raising taxes at a fair rate across the board are measures that 0ne should not demagogue to serve a political agenda that sides with private corporate interests.  Free-market mechanics simply don’t play out acceptably in health care coverage as it does with buying and selling durable and non-durable goods.  The cause and effect of the so-called “invisible hand of the market” reacts too slowly too often, allowing people to die or suffer needlessly before it corrects itself.

When the GOP is unwilling to cut corporate welfare subsidies for oil and large agricultural companies, or lower Defense costs in order to balance the budget, they have no right to expect the rest of us to carry the burden of doing so as they further diminish our efforts to pay for “the greatest health care system in the world”.


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8 responses to “The Truth About Congressional Republicans on Medicare

  1. How are the GOP able to hide and lie about health reform and yet continue their goals to provide more breaks to corporations? It amazes me that so many seniors believe in a party that doesn’t give a damn about them. There was a comedy TV show in the 80s called Dinosaurs. One episode was called Hurling Day. This was when a dinosaur reached the age of 72, he or she was thrown off a cliff with a big send off, because it was too much trouble to care for anyone older than 72. Obviously a satirical look at our society and for the GOP, I think this would be a dream come true unless the one being hurled was among the super rich or a CEO. People want to know where evil lies and I think it is in the GOP.

    • I hadn’t heard of that 80’s show called “Dinosaurs” Donna but what a great metaphorical show that one was for the way American society treats its elders.

  2. Not only is where the evil lies, but also some Democrats are behind it too.
    Greed, big corporations and insurance are on the path of destroying this country.

    • I believe you’re right Eric. It was in the passage about how God accounted for every fallen sparrow but had no time for old farts. Or wait, may it was that passage where those that help the least of you, except for old farts, help Jesus.

  3. Fraud definitely has to be addressed as well as the cost of health care. I don’t get how a bilateral hip replacement here in the US will cost you $45 – $50K, but if you take one of those “medical tours” you can get one in a top notch hospital in India for $10K.

    • There is a belief by some that because a thing costs more it has greater value. We all determine value on a thing. There is no inherent value in a product or service.

      A local home builder here years ago built some beautiful homes and try to sell them for just above costs. They wouldn’t sell. After sitting there for about 6 months he decided to double the price. They were all gone within months. Go figure.

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