Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

« Previous Post | Opinion L.A. Home | Next Post »

Satire: Make Ronald Reagan's day and kill Medicare

Reagan

Do away with Medicare. Do it for the Great Communicator.

Ronald Reagan would've been 100 on Sunday. Could there be a better way for Republicans to honor him than to kill Medicare, a program he railed against, saying it would bring socialism to America?

In 1961, Reagan spoke about congressional efforts that eventually led to Medicare. He said:

"What can we do about this? Well, you and I can do a great deal. We can write to our congressmen and to our senators. We can say right now that we want no further encroachment on these individual liberties and freedoms. And at the moment, the key issue is, we do not want socialized medicine."

He really was ahead of his time. 

So why are members of the GOP, who genuflect at every mention of Reagan's name, even bothering with the small-potatoes effort to repeal the new healthcare overhaul law, such as Wednesday's scheduled vote in the Senate? They need to go after the big dog. 

Yes, there are some practical problems. For one, Americans really like Medicare. 

But too bad -- I like Ferraris, but I can't afford one. A Ferrari probably wouldn't even be good for me; I'd run off with some young thing and make a fool of myself. I might even become a socialist.

And America is even poorer than I am.

Plus Medicare doesn't help me personally. I'm too young. My parents are dead. My in-laws aren't, but they drive me crazy.

Sure, my sister finally got medical coverage again through Medicare. She had healthcare a few years ago through her husband's work, but he was employed by Enron, and we all know how that worked out.

I have a heart; I wish she could keep her Medicare. But she can't. It's socialism. Reagan said so.

I will propose a break for her, though. We'll do away with Medicare by age, and alphabetically. She's fairly young for an old person, and her last name begins in the middle of the alphabet, so that should buy her a few more years.

Still, she's generally healthy -- if drinking red wine really does help you live longer, she'll make 100 easy -- so she still might need some kind of healthcare.

Some visionary Republicans have that covered too: A voucher system. 

I think they should call it the "Ronald Reagan Free Enterprise Death-to-Medicare Act."

Under it, the government would give vouchers to seniors, which they would take to all of those companies lining up to compete to insure a bunch of old, sick people.

I guess it would be like those coupon mailers Costco sends out: "25% off open-heart surgery, this month only" or "2-for-1 colonoscopies."

So my sister will get medical care, and the struggling insurance companies will make a little money. And they need the money -- like the one Tuesday that agreed to pony up $700 million to put its name on L.A.'s new pro football stadium (which isn't built) where L.A.'s new pro football team (which we don't have) will play.

It would be nice to do away with Social Security too, because that's even more socialistic than Medicare. Maybe the GOP can save that one for Reagan's 150th anniversary. 

It's OK by me. I'll be dead by then.

Happy birthday, Gipper.

RELATED:

Ronald Reagan: Followers are celebrating a myth, not the man

Was Ronald Reagan a secret snitch?

Sarah Palin and Ronald Reagan

What do President Obama and Ronald Reagan have in common?

-- Paul Whitefield

Photo: Ronald and Nancy Reagan in January 1981. Credit: EPA / Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

 

Comments () | Archives (13)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Greg Maragos

Wow! Satire that is so cleverly written, so dynamic, so pro-actively effervescent, you could almost laugh--if only it were funny.

M. REAFSNYDER

ah!! yes!! RONALD REAGAN WAS ONE OF THE GREATEST PRESIDENTS IN OUR OH SO YOUNG COUNTRY. WE COULD SURE USE HIM NOW!!!

Dave Whitefield

You forgot about your old(er) brother... he's not dead yet either, but at least his last name is near the end of the alphabet, so I guess I could get Medicare until I die, if I don't hang on too long. After all, that IS the Rethuglican health care plan in a nutshell:

"Don't get sick, but if you do, please die quickly."

Does anyone ever mention that a good share of our health care spending goes to "life extension"... that is, keeping people alive through all means during the last 6 months of their lives? Let's not get hung up on quality of life, just keep folks breathing longer, at tremendous cost, not to mention profit for the health care industry.

Of course, the other good share (40-50%) goes to deciding who will pay the bills. No way we could use those two spending categories to provide real health care to our citizens, is there?

Sign me Disgusted,

Dave Whitefield

Jon Healey

@Dave -- I'm familiar with your brother's position on this, but can't quite make out yours. Are you saying we should spend less to treat people who have one foot in the grave? And if so, how do you do that without relying on some sort of -- just to coin a term here -- "death panel" to decide when Medicare should cut off the payments?

Dave Whitefield

@Jon - It certainly doesn't involve "death panels"... I would suggest we encourage courageous discussions involving patients (if capable), family members and medical professionals to determine the best course for each individual.

Having lived through the loss of several immediate family members suffering from terminal illness, I feel somewhat qualified to comment on this issue.

I'm not suggesting that the primary motivation here is to save money, although that is almost certainly an expected outcome. I am suggesting that we could do more to promote a better quality of life (for the ill and their loved ones) in many of these cases, while eliminating the expense of heroic efforts that only achieve prolonged breathing.

If memory serves me correctly, the provision in the health care bill that would pay qualified medical professionals for participation in these discussions was stripped when it was erroneously characterized as establishing the "death panels" to which you refer.

If we value individual liberty as much as many on the right say they do, why not encourage these discussions, and allow patients and their families to determine the appropriate level of treatment?

Jon Healey

@Dave -- Your memory is correct. But I believe the administration is trying to accomplish the same thing re: physician reimbursements through regulation.

In case you missed it, here's where the LAT editorial board is on the issue: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/nov/29/opinion/la-ed-endoflife-20101129

Mitchell Young

"I would suggest we encourage courageous discussions involving patients (if capable), family members and medical professionals to determine the best course for each individual."

I.e. a death panel.

Alois St.Martin

Make Ronald Reagans Birthday Take This Tax Form and Shove it Day...

Nik Weinstein

This "satire" would be more intellectually compelling if you used economic arguments to argue against your opponents, but I suppose that would be too boring.

Their is a huge overlap in the two parties, but people either generally want the government to solve problems, or believe the government causes them. It could even come down to citizens believing in the innate good of their neighbors - or not.

After all, when we set up safety net, we hope they're mostly helping good, hardworking, just plain down on their luck people who had a bit of misfortune and have no one to turn to. Now, that's a lot of qualifiers and their isn't widely published data and who exactly makes up the people receiving free healthcare, free pregnancies, food stamps, etc.

No one wants to say their not a big fan of the poor, the invalids, the indigent, the aging, but what people toss around words like socialism mean is that, in the long term, we are causing these people, not helping them. You may disagree on *that* point, but without a serious debate on how policies affect not just these people right now in this year, but how these affect their children and their children's children and the encroachment of collective philosophies celebrate the lowest, not the highest that man (and sometimes woman) can achieve.

Ernesto

Death Panel? That's just a term used to make it sound worse than it is. Those "Death Panels" are just conversations with patients and their families to figure out what they want. I certainly wouldn't want to put my family through the stress of figuring out what to do with me should the situation come.

thebob.bob

People say Reagan caused the collapse of the Evil Empire. It was collapsing of it's own weight and he stood there and took credit. He did begin the collapse of the American Empire by embracing an anti-government, anti-tax and anti-union ideology. He was a tool of the Corporate Right, was managed by the senior management of the Bechtel Corporation and began to dismantle all the laws that protected the American people from Corporate avarice and greed.

First was Union busting, he discounted public safety and busted the air traffic controllers union. Second, he tore up the Fairness Doctrine which opened the door to the hateful propaganda of Talk Radio. Use of the public airways to spread lies and distortion allowed the rightwing to distract the public from any serious discussion of public policy. Third was his embrace of the extremists of the Religious Right. Their unconstitutional mixing of religion and politics allowed GW BUSH to get close enough to the WH that the SCOTUS could plausibly appoint him POTUS. We all know where that led.

Reagan was probably suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Maybe that's why he thought it was perfectly OK to have the CIA sell drugs to fund the CONTRA rebels after Congress expressly forbid it. "Mistakes were made", he claimed. His monstrous deficits and refusal to consider taxation as the means to fund government (as opposed to borrowing) began the pattern we are in now. Americans pay the lowest taxes ever in the last 100 years and all Republicans can say is No Taxes!!

Reagan may have been a "nice enough" guy, a grandfatherly figure, but History will judge him harshly.

Dave Whitefield

@the bob.bob - You nailed it! I couldn't agree more nor say it better.

David

President Reagan was right about Medicare. The system loses 60 billion dollars a year due to fraud and is about broke. We are going bankrupt trying to keep it sound. We should declare victory and scrap it.


Connect

Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

Video


Categories


Recent Posts
Reading Supreme Court tea leaves on 'Obamacare' |  March 27, 2012, 5:47 pm »
Candidates go PG-13 on the press |  March 27, 2012, 5:45 am »
Santorum's faulty premise on healthcare reform |  March 26, 2012, 5:20 pm »

Archives
 


About the Bloggers
The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.



In Case You Missed It...