ELDER MUSIC: 1970 Part 2
HBO Tackles Aging

Democrat Sells Out Elders on Medicare

category_bug_politics.gif Worse, it's MY Democrat.

Last week, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden joined Wisconsin Republican Senator Paul Ryan in unveiling an awful proposal to preserve privatize Medicare.

Although the proposal is, as yet, short on details, here's the general idea of the Ryan/Wyden Plan as reported in the Washington Post last week:

”...a framework that would offer traditional, government-run Medicare as an option for future retirees along with a variety of private plans.

“Seniors would still receive a set amount of money from the government to buy insurance, as they would under the Medicare proposal Ryan included in the budget blueprint that passed the House last year.

“But the new approach would let that subsidy, known as premium support, rise or fall along with the actual cost of the policies — creating more protection for seniors and saving potentially far less in the budget.”

In a word: bullshit.

Medicare would “subsidize premiums charged by private insurers that care for beneficiaries under contract with the government.” The New York Times explained further:

”Congress would establish an insurance exchange for Medicare beneficiaries. Private plans would compete with the traditional Medicare program and would have to provide benefits of the same or greater value.”

In other words, it would turn Medicare into a public option and, eventually, destroy the program which has always been Ryan's and Republicans' goal. Paul N. Van de Water reports for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

”The proposal for Medicare premium support by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) differs in key respects from how many media reports are describing it.

“Despite claims to the contrary, it likely would shift substantial costs to beneficiaries rather than protect them from such cost increases, could lead to the demise of traditional Medicare over time rather than preserve it, and likely would produce few savings.”

The Ryan/Wyden proposal is just another privatization scheme notes the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, “coupon care for seniors” in which the only winners would be private insurers who would be given permission to cherry pick the healthiest elders. The NCPSSM continues:

• “Beneficiaries would be forced to pay more for Medicare benefits because premiums would be indexed to the gross domestic product, plus 1 percent, which historically has risen far more slowly than health care costs.

• “The Ryan-Wyden plan could actually increase Medicare costs because it expands private Medicare plans that cost an average of 10 percent more than what the same coverage would cost in traditional Medicare.

• If younger retirees enter the new program and the oldest and sickest remain in traditional Medicare, the program will be faced with a pool of increasingly costly beneficiaries. Medicare spending would go up and seniors who remain in traditional Medicare would see their costs go up as well.”

Look, we know that for-profit medicine does not work. We have decades of experience culminating now in more that 50 million Americans with no health coverage along with higher infant mortality and lower life expectancy than all other developed countries. A 2010 study from Families USA reported in The New York Times estimated that

"...currently 68 adults under age 65 die every day because they don’t have coverage. Absent a significant change in coverage, the figure will climb to 84 by 2019, the study projects."

If the Ryan/Wyden proposal succeeds, we will be adding people older than 65 to that terrible statistic.

Senator Wyden, as you can imagine, is possibly the least popular member of his political party at the moment. As TPM reports:

”...the reaction from Democrats — both nameless, and on the record, has been severe.

“Two White House spokesmen — Jay Carney and Dan Pfeiffer — rejected the plan outright. Carney claimed the plan would 'end Medicare as we know it.'

“Leaving Wyden’s name out of it, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, '[Paul] Ryan’s latest Medicare plan is another example of GOP’s desire for Medicare, as Gingrich described, to wither on the vine.'”

“Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) — a top Dem on health care issues — lashed out: 'despite Wyden’s claims otherwise, the Wyden-Ryan plan ends Medicare as we know it, plain and simple.'”

Elders are getting it from all sides in Congress this season since Medicare is not the only elder program a Democrat is willing to sell out. Many more of them support the extension of the payroll tax holiday that weakens Social Security by tying its revenue to the general fund thereby making it possible for Congress to not reimburse the shortfall.

The one percent have no need for Social Security and Medicare. This is just another case of their handmaidens in Congress sticking it to the 99 percent – the oldest and most vulnerable of them this time.

Wyden is not up for re-election this year, but does he really believe we'll forgive this come 2016? I won't.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: My Mornings


There is less and less to distinguish a politician of one stripe from a politician of another. Whatever merit Medicare Advantage plans ever had was diminished by adding on an administrative allowance, and now by eliminating all risk to the insurance companies by adjusting rates according to risk. Now we're just giving money away, and blaming it on the Medicare program.

What a happy day for the insurance industry...

Medicare retirees now have the choice to be covered by private insurance plans, no? I'm unclear exactly how this plan differs from what is in place now.

Wyden is uniquely awful and it's not just on one issue. He's a sell-out who doesn't even live in Oregon as he is married to a rich NYC high society type. He would never have won last time if anybody in the Democratic party had challenged him but the reason they don't is this party thing which makes a person so mad as it's not about the best people but about party loyalty. The problem is very rarely can you vote for a Republican given the current nature of what being a Republican means; so Wyden skates in time after time and it is infuriating. IF it was only one thing, it might have been forgivable although this was so blatantly disgusting that it could even lead to voting for a Republican to finally get rid of him. We've had that type there before although it was a different reason with Bob Packwood but it always infuriates because I know there have to be good people. Wyden this time though didn't just sell out the elderly but also Obama. It is likely he doesn't plan to run again and this to me sounds like a man wanting to feather his lobbying nest for the future. I am glad you brought it up as I have been wanting to rant on it somewhere. grrrrrrrrrrr

The fictitious bogey-men "Death Panels" hung out by the enemies of USian universal health care as being a "fact" in countries like Canada now turn out to be a reality if this is passed. The only criteria for qualification being the emptiness of one's wallet.
It is hard to believe.

My jaw dropped when I saw Wyden defend his plan on MSNBC. I was thunderstruck that a Democrat (especially one from the Northwest) would sell elders out so blatantly.

I wonder who is paying him to be a traitor. Or is he just stupid?

I was glad to read this post because I thought maybe I was losing my mind when I thought Wyden was crazy. But it's not me--it's him!

As someone whose writing is about the President who started the current social safety net, I think the only hope for older Americans is for us to make our voice heard.

Let's make Wyden a poster boy for what happens to Senators who throw us under the bus. Time for a major emailing campaign, a major withdrawing of funding and condemnation by seniors' groups, and an immediate search for an opponent in the next primary.

I get so po'd when reading US politicans scare voters with the spector of "socialized medicine".
We don't have socialized medicine, we have single-payer with one insurance carrier. In Alberta that's Blue Cross. Husband and I have "complex" medical needs and as a result we go to a specialized clinic nly five minutes from our home. Our regular doc's appts are an hour in length. To begin with we saw her every two weeks! Some provinces are better than others but we've had wonderful care in Alberta and BC (most western provinces). This included orthopedic surgery (for him) and surgery where 2/3rds of my liver was removed due to a tumor. Cost to us =$0.00. We no longer pay premiums (seniors) but family premiums are $134 month. That covers doctor's and ER visits, and hospital stays. Ambulance rides are $50, as seniors those are covered. We also are covered for eye exams and glasses, $5,000 dental for each three years, and 85% of prescription costs, but never pay more than $25 a prescription.
Everyone is covered and Canada spends LESS per person than the US. There are no "death panels". My husband's brother died of ALS. He was able to stay at home with 20 hours a day of skilled care for 18 months, until 48 hours before he died. We were able to stay at his bedside in a private room. I know this is not possible everywhere in Canada, but poor health care comes from provincial governments who are trying to force people toward privately-funded healthcare by cutting services. In a recent election here the front-runner announced days before the election that he would open the door to private clinics, and he lost in a stunning defeat, coming in at the bottom of the pack with the strong defender of our current system (who started with a 6% approval rating) winning by a landslide. That shows you something about how we feel. US politicians don't want you to know that our system works when the provincial government wants it to work.

Here we go again. We need a single-payer system, with everyone participating through Medicare. That is very clear. Yet many politicians, and their followers, just don't seem to get it.

What are these people doing since they don't listen to us taxpayers? It's mindboggling & depressing. Dee

In my view the "stripe" most politicians are sporting these days is a stripe down their backs. These skunks are bought and paid for by big corporations (oops, sorry, I mean "persons") and ultra-wealthy individuals--but a skunk could do a better job! Reading Deb's post about the Canadian system is enough to make one green with envy.

I can't believe that ANY Democrat would join forces with one of the Republican head skunks, Paul Ryan. Wyden must have a sweet lobbying deal in his back pocket for when he leaves Congress--which I hope voters will help him do in 2016! But he's just one example of a much greater problem. Somehow we, the people, must find a way to vote corruption and Big Money out of politics or nothing will change. We have a terrible system now--it's government of, by and for the rich and well-connected.

Until healthcare is taken out of the hands of the for-profit sector, people will continue to die needlessly. Republicans have created very effective "death panels" composed of thousands who can't see a doctor when they're sick because they're uninsured or can't afford the ever-rising deductibles and co-pays. Now they want to add elders to that list.

Elizabeth said it well: the "death panels" that brain-dead Sarah Palin made up have been adopted by the GOP under the Ryan "plan."

Apparently the more outrageous the lie and the dumber the idea the more traction it gains with the folks who made it up in the first place.

I just wrote to Wyden with my outrage. I am just disgusted with this. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. All my money from now on is going to progressive candidates or Move On. Period.

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