In 1962 Ronald Reagan was a spokesman for groups opposed to the introduction of Medicare. Socialism and the loss of personal freedom were the battlecry of the opposition to Medicare. A Medicare bill was defeated in 1962. Click on the video link.
Archive for February, 2010
Here are excerpts from a recent article I read about a Republican bill that would make major changes to Medicare and Social Security. This is part of the Republican “Roadmap for America’s Future”, which they hope will work as well for them in 2010 as their “Contract with America” did in 1994.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Saul Friedman writes the weekly Gray Matters column for the website http://www.timegoesby.net/. His recent post is a bit long so I’ve cut and pasted pieces of it here and provided a link to the entire post at the bottom of the page.
Excerpts from Saul Friedman’s 2/20/2010 post …. the present Republican leadership and its young new ideologues, have put pretense aside and now openly intend to destroy, during their next watch, the twin pillars of the nation’s public social insurance system – 75-year-old Social Security and 50-year-old Medicare.
If you think I exaggerate, check out their legislation, for H.R. 4529, introduced by the top Republican on the Budget Committee, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and S. 1240, introduced by the most right wing member of the Senate, Jim DeMint of South Carolina.
….when Ronald Reagan won the presidency in 1980, he calmed the fears of older Americans when he promised to cut only “waste, fraud and abuse” in government. As a commentator, he had spoken in vigorous, ideological opposition to Social Security and Medicare – as the harbingers of socialism. But as president, Reagan left Medicare alone and in 1983, he appointed a commission that strengthened Social Security to build today’s $3 trillion trust fund for the boomers’ retirement. The Trustees say the trust fund will last until 2037, unless the recession drains it more rapidly.
…Under the Republican threats to slash Medicare, Bill Clinton agreed to allow private companies to sell Medicare policies, now called Medicare Advantage, which are heavily subsidized and serve a fifth of Medicare beneficiaries.
In 2003, George Bush took Medicare privatization further with the Medicare Part D drug benefit which is wholly private. That bill also put limits on Medicare’s budget growth and instituted a means test for the first time.
….Sensing new opportunities because of the deficits they helped create and the strain the recession has put on Social Security and Medicare, the Republicans and Democratic deficit hawks have set their sights on both programs as if all “entitlements” contribute to the deficit. Social Security, for example, is self-sustaining and only its administrative costs (one percent) contributes to the deficit.
Nevertheless, the “Roadmap for America’s Future” (a more appealing name than the legalistic “Contract With America,“) would end future Social Security protection for all persons under 55 and substitute a “Personal Social Security Savings Program” – that is, investment accounts like that provided by the government (federal employees now also get Social Security).
Incidentally, the trust fund would no longer be available to loan money to the treasury and thus earn money. Instead the trillions in the trust fund, which belong to you and me, would be “liquidated” and available for Wall Street.
Instead of the guarantees of Medicare, persons who will become eligible in, say ten years, would get an average of $11,000, in vouchers to purchase health insurance on the open market. That would be available through a newly merged Federal Hospital Insurance Trust fund and Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Fund. You tell me if that would be enough insurance to last the rest of your life even if, G-D forbid you have a catastrophic illness. Funds would be slashed for the Part D drug program, which would be means tested and voluntary.
There is no mention of restraining the costs of premiums or regulating insurance companies’ practices; that would be a restraint on free enterprise. The clever part of the proposal would pit the old against the young who will be on their own and would no longer have to pay for their elders.
…..But the juiciest part of the Roadmap, the one that will bring joy to the rich and appeal to fiscally conscious Republicans are the numerous tax breaks it proposes. It would end taxes on capital gains, dividends and interest, estate and gift taxes and the corporate income tax. (Unfortunately, President Obama has caved in to the deficit fears with his creation of a deficit commission and he even praised Ryan as a person with “ideas.”)
For the full post: http://sn119w.snt119.mail.live.com/default.aspx?wa=wsignin1.0
And the winners are…..CareMore and Humana. Thousands of Medicare beneficiaries in Pima County changed their Medicare Advantage plans in January and they still have February and March to make a switch. CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) reports each month on enrollment numbers, so we can see which plans are growing and which are losing members.
CareMore, a new Medicare Advantage plan in Tucson, enrolled 1,969 people as of the end of January according to CMS numbers. CareMore is still advertising seminars and mailing brochures to seniors (for the third or fourth time), so they will likely gain more members before the end of March when the Open Enrollment Period ends.
Humana has been in Tucson for several years and has spent that time building its network of contracted healthcare providers for its HMO Medicare Advantage plan. As of December 1, 2009 they had 1,102 people enrolled in their HMO. By February 1, they had nearly doubled their numbers to 2,079. This is an icrease of 89%.
Humana’s PPO Medicare Advantage plan was also a big winner, growing from 195 enrollees to 465.
The big loser in enrollment numbers is Health Net’s Medicare Advantage HMO which had 19,670 members on December 1 and 17,182 on February 1st. This amounts to a loss of 13% in its business. Health Net is the first HMO Medicare Advantage plan in Tucson to have a premium ($36/month) and about 2,500 people chose to change plans rather than pay. Losing only 13% of their members doesn’t seem like a bad result, given the competition in the Tucson Medicare Advantage market.
Another loser is the Evercare chronic illness plan (Evercare MP). The plan lost 39% of its members, dropping from 4,029 to 2,476. This plan had very low co-payments three years ago, but is now fairly similar to other Advantage plans. They also lost their contract with a large doctor group which forced enrollees to change their primary care doctor or change plans.
The big Kahuna in town is still Secure Horizons, with nearly 25,000 enrollees in their AARP Medicare Complete Plan 1. This plan has been around for a long time (though co-pays have changed over the years) and it does not have an annual cap on out-of-pocket expenses. Over 2,000 seniors moved out of this plan and they may have enrolled in the AARP Medicare Complete Plan 3, which does have a cap. Plan 3 gained 3,704 new enrollees as of February 1 for an 85% increase.
Medicare beneficiaries can make one change in their coverage between January 1 and March 31, so it will be interesting to see the final numbers for April 1. The CMS web page with Medicare Advantage enrollments numbers can be found through this link: