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Sunday, May 1, 2011

What About REAL Medicare Reform?

Republican Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, told David Gregory today on Meet the Press that the Ryan Plan for Medicare is the best proposal available right now, and that anyone with a better idea should come forward and make a serious proposal. 

First, we need to ask: how much research went into Paul Ryan’s proposal to put Medicare on a premium-support (government voucher) basis?  Well, apparently not much, since the Congressional Budget Office made it clear that he didn’t take into consideration that his Plan would actually add to the total debt, cost more for seniors buying private plans, and that typical 65 year olds would be required to pay 68 percent of the total cost of their coverage (premiums, deductibles, other out-of-pocket costs), compared with the 25 percent they would pay under current law!

Second, Ryan’s Plan does nothing to solve the issue of affordable and effective health care for seniors (and for those who are younger but disabled). Although the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 went only part-way toward reforming health care costs and provisions, it at least tried to do so in a timely manner.  Ryan’s provisions for vouchering premium support for Medicare would not take effect until 2022!  His changes to Medicare are really not intended to solve the problem of health care administration, but ostensibly to address the problem of debt reduction!  His Plan does neither and Sen. Rubio is much to blame for not proposing a better solution (other than denigrating Obama’s health care reform bill by which Rubio solves absolutely nothing). 

This is exactly what many have come to fear from Tea Baggers and Republicans (as well as some Democrats): they knowingly divert public attention from the real issues to political theater which is totally unproductive.  No wonder so many out here feel they are being bamboozled!

Third, perhaps Sen. Rubio has missed the fact that there actually are other proposals for addressing health care in this country (along with the national debt), at least one of which has not received the attention it deserves because of over-protection of private insurance giants and private drug companies by Congress, and because of the false bogey-man of socialism. 

Here’s what Physicians for a National Health Program have to say about a Single Payer System:

“Single-payer national health insurance is a system in which a single public or quasi-public agency organizes health financing, but delivery of care remains largely private.
Currently, the U.S. health care system is outrageously expensive, yet inadequate. Despite spending more than twice as much as the rest of the industrialized nations ($8,160 per capita), the United States performs poorly in comparison on major health indicators such as life expectancy, infant mortality and immunization rates. Moreover, the other advanced nations provide comprehensive coverage to their entire populations, while the U.S. leaves 51 million completely uninsured and millions more inadequately covered.

“The reason we spend more and get less than the rest of the world is because we have a patchwork system of for-profit payers. Private insurers necessarily waste health dollars on things that have nothing to do with care: overhead, underwriting, billing, sales and marketing departments as well as huge profits and exorbitant executive pay. Doctors and hospitals must maintain costly administrative staffs to deal with the bureaucracy.
Combined, this needless administration consumes one-third (31 percent) of Americans’ health dollars.

“Single-payer financing is the only way to recapture this wasted money. The potential savings on paperwork, more than $400 billion per year, are enough to provide comprehensive coverage to everyone without paying any more than we already do (underlining added).

“Under a single-payer system, all Americans would be covered for all medically necessary services, including: doctor, hospital, preventive, long-term care, mental health, reproductive health care, dental, vision, prescription drug and medical supply costs. Patients would regain free choice of doctor and hospital, and doctors would regain autonomy over patient care.

“Physicians would be paid fee-for-service according to a negotiated formulary or receive salary from a hospital or nonprofit HMO/group practice. Hospitals would receive a global budget for operating expenses. Health facilities and expensive equipment purchases would be managed by regional health planning boards.

“A single-payer system would be financed by eliminating private insurers and recapturing their administrative waste. Modest new taxes would replace premiums and out-of-pocket payments currently paid by individuals and business. Costs would be controlled through negotiated fees, global budgeting and bulk purchasing.”  >>

It’s time to get serious about REAL HEALTHCARE REFORM, and a single-payer system like this is worth an in-depth look.  At least it would do what Senator Rubio and Congressman Ryan so inadequately proposed to do.  It would potentially replace Medicare and Medicaid, but this time, with a much better system available to all citizens!!