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The One Paragraph that Sums it all up

This is the blurb on the frontpage of the NYTimes about the Romney-Ryan plan vs the Obama administration on the issue of Medicare:

President Obama and his campaign are arguing that the Romney-Ryan approach to Medicare would leave older Americans vulnerable to rising health care costs.

I’ll bet that when the writer wrote that paragraph he or she had no real insight about what they were talking about.  It’s just the zeitgeist. There doesn’t seem to be an epiphany here.  Why are health care costs continuing to rise?  How is it that our elected representatives have allowed these costs to rise without restraint? And it fails to put the blame where it belongs, especially when it comes to the Affordable Care Act. The biggest failure here is Obama’s because he and the Democrats have been unwilling or unable to prevent health care costs from rising to unsustainable levels.

And let us be clear about this, we have known that the rise in health care costs would be unsustainable, a deficit hog and a drag on the economy since the Clinton administration.  But the Republicans flooded the airwaves with Harry and Louise and the Democrats were too craven to stand their ground.

It doesn’t matter whether the Republicans restructure or eliminate Medicare or not.  The costs will keep on rising because we have done absolutely nothing to stop them from rising. The costs related to Medicare must be addressed.  There are painful ways of doing it, like the Romney-Ryan plan that would boot old people back into the private insurance market when they can least afford it, or there are less painful ways but expanding the insurance pool and putting a firm cap on the cost and types of procedures that will be covered, just like every other developed country in the world with good health care systems do.

What we have here is a failure of leadership.  We do not have a president or Congress who is willing or able to make a case for sensible reforms or is willing to say that Americans have to get over their ego and misinformed sense of superiority problem.  A good doctor can be found in many places including hospitals that serve the poor and the military, higher costs do not necessarily equal better care, you don’t need to go to a swanky hospital for good treatment, some alternative medicine is crap and we shouldn’t be paying for it, and the hospitals and other providers are not entitled to every last penny in the Treasury just because they send us an invoice.

But whatever.  Neither party has any intention of taking on the real problems associated with healthcare.  Neither wants to tell the public like it is or get the providers’ hands out of what they perceive to be bottomless pockets.

Your politicians at work.  Wake me in 2014.

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7 Responses

  1. The legacy parties appear to have offered us a clear choice on Medicare:

    1) We can vote for someone who intends to cut Medicare
    2) We can vote for someone who has already cut Medicare and intends to cut it some more

    Couldn’t be simpler, now could it ;-)

    • Is it all about cutting Medicare? If that’s what people think, then they’ve fallen into the same trap as this reporter.
      I’d be having a screaming fit if we were talking about social security because that isn’t contributing to the deficit. But even before Obama ever ran for president, it has been very well known that Medicare was going to be a problem because the amount of money we have to set aside for it continues to grow.
      If all we think about is cuts, we are going to miss the opportunity we have to restructure it correctly.
      We do not have to cut Medicare in order for it to work well. What we need to do is aggressively lower the expectations of the providers who are making unlimited profits for generations to come. There has to be a limit on the provider side. It is not OK to drain a nation just because the money is there. And it’s not OK for patients to go to the doctor for treatments they don’t need and that do no good. It’s not OK to use the doctor as someone who will give you the attention you lack in the rest of your life. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you need to use every blessed dollar like the obese passengers at a cruise ship buffet, loading the plate with more food than is decent. Just because it is there, doesn’t mean you need to gorge.
      Do you see where I’m coming from? This is not a “cut” issue. It is a *moral* issue. This country lacks a sense of civic responsibility. And it is true of both consumers and providers.

  2. If I remember, the Pretendent also flooded the air waves with Harry and Louise. In 2008. So, no surprise that he cannot provide leadership. Cannot and will not. He is one of “them. ”

    Quite frankly, Romney has a more progressive record where health care is concerned.

    • Quite frankly, both candidates are complete failures when it comes to healthcare and neither is going to keep Medicare costs from skyrocketing. It will still be expensive only fewer people will be able to afford it.

  3. I recently heard a little NPR broadcast which reminded me of where a lot of the cost buildup comes from. It comes from so-called “end of life” care which is the last few months of hyperexpensive and medically futile slow-death prolongation heroics. That is the sort of thing which some people try to avoid through “living wills” and which the evil monster of deceit Sahara Paylin forever branded with the disnomer “death panels”. That conservative effort to force every dying person to endure an open-ended Terry Schiavo style machine-feeding undeath will have to be restrained for millions of people at the very end of their lives to control those huge end-of-life costs.

    And to get people to trust that such is legitimately being done, people will have to be assured that they are not being deprived of medically useful care simply to save money. I should think some of the civil-decency countries like Sweden/Norway/Iceland/etc. have solved that problem.

  4. Will you be going to Zuccotti Park tomorrow to celebrate the OWS anniversary?

  5. No one really wants to deal with the problem. The Ryan plan just makes the government’s stake predictable but does not account for cost shifting that is going to be going on. If Medicare was turned into a voucher program today, most seniors would only be able to afford high deductible junk insurance. So getting sick would either send them into homelessness or into the bankruptcy courts. Obamacare just props up the current system. We could do it all privately if we did it like the Swiss do where all insurance companies must be nonprofit entities and highly regulated. But I don’t trust the regulatory model to work in this country because there is going to be someone who is paid off by the insurance companies that will be elected to get rid of the regulations.

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