Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saving Medicare

Joe Lieberman has an idea on how Medicare can be saved.  He starts with:  "Instead of beginning nonpartisan discussions to fix Medicare, the health insurance program that millions of seniors depend on and that contributes enormously to our long-term debt, Congress has turned the Medicare funding crisis into another excuse for partisan pugilism.  It is enough to make you want to become an independent."  And he's right about the political fighting.  Then, "Medicare cannot be fixed without both more revenue and significant changes in its premium and benefit structure.  The first is reflexively opposed by Republicans, and the second is reflexively opposed by Democrats -- yet both sides are well aware of the demographic and economic realities facing the program."

Although essentially correct in his characterization of the philosophical/ political differences between the parties, I think Senator Lieberman simplifies the reflexes of the GOP and the Democrats.  In my opinion, their reflexes are deeper, more instinctive, and far more inflexible.  Another way to put the basic conflict might be:  "hostility to big government regardless of the benefits to people in need" vs. "devotion to the benefits to people in need regardless of big government."  One would hope that a happy medium could be met.

So, how do we work together to truly preserve Medicare now and for the future?  Senator Lieberman is proposing legislation to change eligibility, benefits, premiums, and financing.  He also would change Medigap policies.  Taken together, these five points, upon first look, seem reasonable and balanced.  I am sure others will disagree.

Is the Lieberman proposal a start?  We don't know.  However, I am concerned that Republicans really have a stronger interest in poor government performance and poor economic performance; those, they believe, will win them the White House.
Nevertheless, Senator Lieberman may have identified a relatively simple, easy-to-understand proposal which the American People could support.  It's a thought-provoking opinion piece, that we can recommend for your review.


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