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Crabby Old Lady, Prescription Drugs and Insurance Companies

The Attempted Theft of Medicare

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While the American president and the Senate majority leader are trying (and so far, failing) to make sure only the rich in the United States can afford health care, GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan is proposing to take out Medicare.

He released a 2018 budget plan last week that would make it possible to overhaul the tax code (read: cut taxes for the rich) and he wants to do it on the backs of elders and the poor.

The plan promises to balance the budget through unprecedented and politically unworkable cuts across the budget. It calls for turning this year's projected $700 billion-or-so deficit into a tiny $9 billion surplus by 2027,” reports the AP.

“It would do so by slashing $5.4 trillion over the coming decade, including almost $500 billion from Medicare and $1.5 trillion from Medicaid and the Obama health law, along with sweeping cuts to benefits such as federal employee pensions, food stamps and tax credits for the working poor.”

Ryan's plan would privatize Medicare, as noted on the website of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM):

”Undermining Medicare has been a long-held dream of fiscal conservatives. Their 'premium support' proposal is a thinly veiled scheme to allow traditional Medicare to 'wither on the vine,' as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich once put it.

“Privatization is being sold as 'improving customer choice,' but based on the way current Medicare Advantage plans work, private insurance will continue to offer fewer choices of doctors than traditional Medicare does. If traditional Medicare is allowed to shrink and collapse, true choice will disappear, too.

“'Weakening Medicare is a politically perilous path for Republicans,' says [NCPSSM President Max] Richtman. 'Recent polling indicates that large majorities of Americans across party lines prefer that Medicare be kept the way it is...'”

As Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California noted in the AP story:

"Republicans would destroy the Medicare guarantee for our seniors and inflict bone-deep cuts to Medicaid that would devastate veterans, seniors with long-term care needs, and rural communities.'”

I know a little more about this lately than I used to. The Medicare Parts A and B summaries for the biopsy and subsequent surgery I recently experienced are beginning to come in.

The mailings haven't caught up to the expensive part yet but it's already apparent that without traditional Medicare as it currently operates, I would not have been able to afford any of these medical needs and that gives me chills for all of us.

It may seem that Washington, D.C. is taken up these days with Russians and collusion and a president's threats to fire nearly everyone he's hired and pardon himself from wrongdoing but the budget bill must come up. So it wouldn't hurt to let your Congress person know how you feel.

Meanwhile, here is an excerpt from the best story I've read on Ryan's 2018 budget plan by John Wasik at Forbes:

”What House Speaker Paul Ryan and GOP congressional leaders are proposing is to tear down and remold basic Medicare into the troubled Medicare Advantage program, which would be like throwing kerosene on a house fire.

“There's even more of a muddle on how the GOP would calculate how much to give seniors for their yearly stipend to cover private premiums. What if policy costs go up double digits and the stipend doesn't keep pace with the private market?...

”I think there's a reason why there's a billboard in Kenosha, Wisconsin - in the heart of Ryan's Congressional District - that shows Ryan in a robber's mask. There's an attempted theft in progress, but older Americans and the disabled will be the victims.”

During the 2016 campaign, candidate Trump repeatedly promised not to cut Social Security and Medicare. If, somehow, Ryan's 2018 budget gets through Congress, don't count on President Trump to veto it. So far, he has reneged on every campaign promise he made.

Comments

Ronni and friends, this article might resonate with you.

While we're watching the Trump/GOPer/looting machine, we can't look away from the systemic damage these con men (yes they seem to be mostly old white men) are inflicting on our country. Defending Medicare and Medicaid is our piece of the broad resistance .

Thanks for keeping us on it Ronni.

There are so many other ways to attack rising costs, ways that don't take healthcare away from seniors (although they would take profits away from the healthcare industry and Big Pharma). These robbers have parents and grandparents. Doesn't that matter to them? Or are they all so wealthy that they will pick up the costs themselves?

I'm struck by how absolutely evil this all is. Like a planned and deliberate culling of the old, poor, infirm, disabled and sick.

I wouldn't put it past your terrifying overlords.

XO
WWW

We are living on a planet that a new born baby will become just another mouth to feed instead of a hope for the future.
I see my doctor tomorrow for my yearly check up. Going to ask if she has any trump depression meds.

This makes me so angry and I am a Canadian living in Canada (and a retired nurse).

I am very upset about the idea they would change Medicare. Its as though they have to take every program that benefits people and decimate it. When people are starting to talk about Medicare for all, why change it? Have some compassion.

Thanks Ronni. I have posted your link on my blog because this is such an important message. Thanks for all the research you do.

Every time I read of the Republican's agenda to take away the social net I think of their alternate plan to further enrich the killing machine known as the Pentagon and to further add to the wealth of the obscenely rich and I wonder what kind of monsters we, the naive voters, are sending to Washington.

Compassion? The current power brokers don't know the meaning of the word. They change words to justify their cruelty. The poor and vulnerable are now called "takers" and Social Security is called an entitlement.

Call your Congress person today and every day and tell them to stop dismantling fifty years of compassionate laws.

Third world country here we come!

It is very scary to know that the GOP does not believe that access to reasonable health care is a right but believe that it is a luxury. Thank you for writing and hope you are healing

Ronni's Back!

I think the most important issue to deal with now is voter suppression in the 2018 election. Why this country hasn't secured voting rights is beyond me. And why hasn't the tech community jumped in with solutions?

Weary of the constant hammering of rights by the right wing of government, only voting and truth can get us out of this mess. Everyone, especially those in swing or Republican states should investigate, write their politicians, newspapers, etc. and demand transparency NOW regarding voting registration, ballot counting, etc.

The Koch bros made it clear that their money for the next 15 months is going to the state, county and local operations and is aimed at the 2018 elections.

But think, if the Democrats (or with help from Independents) became the majority in only one arm of Congress, what relief that would bring.

I so strongly believe that what we need is single-payer insurance (Medicare for all!) that it deeply concerns me to see these attempts to take it away from those who *do* have it!

It is lovely seeing that you are feeling well enough to tackle this issue, Ronni!

The problem has always been those who vote republican and who voted for Trump. Some drive it because they feel the same way and are predjudiced against the poor (which will bleed over into the middle class and elderly) and minorities. Others are the ones who vote against their own best interest. I'm in Fla. surrounded by a lot of older people (I'm old too 70) and overwhelmingly they support Trump. So Trump and his cronies have the power because of an ignorant, ill informed public that is incapable of critical thinking and research.

Welcome back, Ronni of the flaming hair! I think these Republicans believe, deep in their tiny, hard hearts, that the poor, the sick, the old, the minorities, the immigrants, are inherently inferior to them. My own father, long dead, was one of eleven children of a poor farm family. He became a doctor, as did a couple of his brothers, and his sisters became teachers--i.e. most of them prospered, so that group believed anyone could do it. Never mind they weren't black--in Mississippi.

Or--their contributors are so greedy, of course, that they object to paying taxes to support infrastructure and the "takers"--hence the term "tax relief."

Meanwhile, their supporters get their "news" from FOX. Etc.

Glad to see you are recovered enough to tackle the difficult issues of the day,
but wish you could spend your newly recovered energy on something more pleasant.

What Chillin said times ten.

Your Montreal Fan

Thanks so much Roni for this post. I am a disability advocate in rural Clackamas County
and we have been watching what Trump proposes for "health care" to replace the ACA.
Very important for all federal senators and representatives in the US Congress to know
exactly what you think. So far this citizen activism has stopped worse cuts and is working
to slow down the bill in the US Senate. Every one here, don't write Roni, write your legislator on the federal level. Thanks Roni for your communication. You are in my prayers for radiant
health.

Might as well build poor houses for people like me if I lose Medicare.

That's k you, Ronnie. Be well. Keeping you in my prayers. Love th blog.

One thing that has never been mentioned in all the rhetoric on SS and Medicare/Medicaid is just how much the children of those who rely on these programs have benefited. And just how negatively the up-coming generation including the late wave of boomers will be impacted by this.

I'm not sure we realize just how these programs allowed us to move away, follow [good] jobs and follow our "own" paths in life. Without, in many cases, having to worry too much, about financially or physically supporting our parents.

So, hey you millennials and GenXer's, guess who is going to be much more responsible for financially and physically supporting your aging parents. With Medicare/Medicaid cuts if your parents can't afford a care facility, or home care, or medical equipment, etc. guess who will be moving in with their children or be dependent on them for support. That would be you guys!

So if you think these cuts and plan changes will only impact the older generation - think again.

Not to mention the millions of jobs that will disappear as well. Benefits cut, no expenses paid, businesses close (including hospitals), the there go jobs too. And you may find yourself unable to move to find better jobs if you have stay around to care for your parents.

So we need to get the "younger folks" to understand how they will be impacted long before the direct impact as they retire - if they ever do.

This is not just an "old person problem".


W E A L T H C A R E

I don't think any us us in the TGB community began to love Ronni only after she was diagnosed with cancer. We liked and admired her before. We like and admire her now and we all hope she has the best outcome possible. That said, I am pissed about the current outpouring on main stream as well as social media about John McCain's heroism and everyone's hopes and prayers for him. I don't know how a brain tumor somehow made him into a saint.

My take is that the outpouring of support and sympathy was less about the man and more about an instinctive generosity of spirit among liberals. I am not feeling that generous. I am quite sure that if and when McCain recovers enough to even briefly make a triumphant entry into the Senate Chamber, he will use his power as a Senator to cast a vote to deprive up to 32 million Americans of healthcare and will use his vote to support a Trump alt-right nomination to the Supreme Court. He will help his fellow GOPers pass a budget that increases military spending while reducing Medicare and Medicaid, demolishes conservation advances, pulls funds from education at all levels, impoverishes the arts and humanities as well as public radio and television, decimates family planning centers and does much more terrible damage to programs that we hold dear even if we don't reap an individual benefit.

This guy is a lifelong conservative, a dedicated NRA supporter, the man who gave us Sarah Palin, and a guy who has almost no empathy for liberal or humane causes. While I don't wish him ill, neither do I give a fuck if he dies of cancer. I'm tired of this kind of mutability, which is too much like the media's tendency to suddenly call the idiot in the White House "presidential" every time he manages to string three words together in a semi-intelligible way.

I'm with Emmajay's opinion, though I remember McCain being more of a bi-politician - long, long ago and no longer relevant.

Politicians are forever playing insincere games for their own gain, regardless of the harm done to others.

Calling a spade a spade without reservations or personal compromising is refreshing.

By now you know that John McCain has returned to Washington to vote on the latest version of the attempt to repeal the ACA. If he votes Aye I will not hold any more sympathy for him.

If his terrible diagnosis has not made him more compassionate for his fellow man I wash my hands of him.

Not only did he vote "yes," which of course serves to keep this dreadful bill alive in the Senate, but he compounded his perfidy with an entirely hypocritical speech about how wrong it was. The way to make this point was through an honest "no" vote---as Susan Collin and Lisa Murkowski were brave enough to register--- not though a deceitful effort to have it both ways. I don't know who I hate more: McCain, or the Media with its typical inclination to override honest reporting in favor of melodrama.

EmmaJay times a hundred, with admiration for her energy.
Thank you, Ronni, for using your precious energy to spell it all out for us so clearly.
Let them hear us roar.

This is definitely an issue we should all be tracking now as should the generations younger than our own, especially. I hope the fewer number of comments here, compared to the much higher numbers you draw on other topics, doesn't indicate that there may well be whole numbers of people out there who may think this isn't a serious concern, won't happen, won't effect me, so let it pass by. Now is the time to make voices heard -- later may be too late. Glad to see you feeling well enough to research and write this.

Sorry if I seem to be beating a dead horse, but I wanted to say one more thing in case there was any sympathy for John McCain based on his, as I see it, very hypocritical speech as he voted "aye" to let the ACA repeal effort continue. McCain's self-serving speech not only did not gain him the accolades I think he expected for his "maverick" stance, but touched off a veritable firestorm in the liberal media and in the twitterverse, with many critics not pulling any punches in denouncing him as a hypocrite.

So despite McCain's hypocritical call for a return to bipartisan negotiation in the Senate, his vote did nothing to achieve it and even helped postpone any possibility for the foreseeable future. Moreover, his vote gave Trump a much-needed boost for his image and an impetus for his plans to decimate Medicare and other programs. McCain has never been a maverick. The one thing defenders always cite when he is criticized is his contradiction of a supporter who called Obama an Arab during a 2012 campaign rally. But even that is flawed because his response implied that being an Arab was the opposite of being a respectable family man and a good American.

Perhaps the most serious effect was the inluence of his vote on others in the Senate, and not just on his Sancho Panza, Lindsay Graham. Senator Ron Johnson was set to vote no, but when McCain cast his vote, Johnson didn't want to be the last man standing, saying "that would have been a pretty rough 'no' vote so I was happy to join McCain." Of course, none of the boys was at all worried about leaving the two women who voted no in the lurch. In fact, there were threats of physical retaliation from several Congressional Representatives, including duels and spankings. Had McCain had the balls to vote no, as did Murkowski and Collins, the repeal of ObamaCare would have received an almost insurmountable setback.

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