Medi-scare [Most commented]
How does the "super committee" go about reducing the federal deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over the next decade while saving Medicare? In Saturday's Opinion pages, the editorial board wrote:
The linchpin of any effort to reduce the federal budget will be slowing the growth of government health insurance and medical care programs. Medicare, an insurance program for the elderly and the disabled, is the largest and most expensive by far. Its costs have more than doubled since 2001, and consume about an eighth of the federal budget. […]
Reining in spending on a program as popular as Medicare is politically treacherous, but there's no way around it. The program isn't sustainable, and the changes set in motion by the healthcare reform law aren't enough to save it. Fixing the flawed incentives in the program will require at least some elderly Americans to pick up more of its costs, which won't be easy for those on fixed incomes. But lawmakers can shore up Medicare without abandoning the promise to provide seniors with affordable, reliable health insurance.
For some readers chiming in on our discussion board, Medicare is an ethical issue; for others, it's economics, pure and simple. Here's a sampling of their conversation.
Socialist programs are unsustainable
No socialist programs have ever been sustainable. They always outgrow the revenue flow. That is why all socialist systems failed. History has proven that fact repeatedly. The Soviet Union collapsed under the weight of its own bureaucracy, and China has adopted capitalism in order to grow; Sweden and England eventually had to privatize most of their socialist programs to survive. Even lifeboats have a limited capacity before they sink. Can't fight natural law.
--its in yahoo
Actually, what's unsustainable is…
A 3 trillion dollar war on an enemy that didn't even have weapons of mass destruction, that's sustainable. But dignity and health for the poorest, that's not sustainable. 18,000 people die in the US each year from treatable conditions because of POVERTY.
A country that can always find money to kill strangers and foreigners (100,000 Iraqi civilians died in the Iraq war), but cannot find money to take care of it's most vulnerable should be ashamed of itself.
How to fund Medicare
Anyone with a high school education and a calculator can deduce that Medicare is nearing collapse.
Medicare needs to be funded SOLELY by contributions from the beneficiaries. Unless we attain that goal, the program will collapse.
Conflating this issue with with military spending is misguided.
Streamline Medicare services, save money
Medicare could easily be modified to get rid of the inefficiencies and bloat. My mother is blind, and most of her eye care providers are in the same medical practice. Under Medicare rules, she can't schedule two appointments in the same day with two different doctors working in the same medical office. Due to malpractice liability, some medical tests have to be repeated, even if there's only a week in between office visits. If she could see all her doctors in a single day, the test results could be shared between all her doctors, instead of repeating tests.
If I can't drive her to the doctor, my mother uses a government-paid transportation service, which is also very expensive for taxpayers for every trip she takes. There's no logical common-sense reason why my mother shouldn't be able to take care of all her doctor visits in a single office visit. Multiply her case by millions of elderly people and you can see why Medicare is in financial trouble.
If healthcare weren't a profit-driven business
If we demanded the profit motive (Parts A,B & D) be removed from the equation, then Medicare/Medicaid would be close to solvent. With close to 100% employment the evolution of LBJs "Great Society" could move forward unimpeded by misinformation & inflammatory rhetoric.
*For clarity purposes, spelling errors in the above comments have been corrected.
--Alexandra Le Tellier
Photo: Demonstrators are led away by police during a protest against cuts to federal safety net programs, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, in Chicago. Credit: Scott Olson / Getty Images