Thursday, September 1, 2011

Joint Committee a Challenge for Lobbyists, Medigap Changes Unpopular, Social Security Misunderstood

Lobbying - Defense vs. Health Care

"Thousands of Washington lobbyists are scrambling to influence the work of a congressional 'super committee' . . . with many worried about how to gain access to its 12 members.  The committee is due to report its findings by Thanksgiving and with such massive potential cuts to the U.S. federal budget being decided by just a handful of lawmakers in such a short timeframe, lobbyists say the mission to protect their clients' interests is unprecedented and potentially impossible."

The article continues, "One lobbyist, speaking on the condition of anonymity, predicted 'Holy War' between the health and defense industries, and their legions of lobbyists as they try to protect their budgets ahead of the potential automatic cuts."

This truly is an unprecedented situation, not only because the stakes for America are so high (and the political stakes as well), but also because the workings of the Joint Committee will be fast-paced and the procedures different from the "normal."  We all need to be watching to see which industries are pushing which positions.  This is an interesting set of challenges with daily strategies and attacks.

Also, "A day after Republicans on the supercommittee met for a daylong session on Capitol Hill, their Democratic counterparts chatted via a conference call that lasted under an hour."

Changes To Medigap Plans Meet Resistance

"A provision of the 2010 federal health law seeking to increase Medicare beneficiaries’ share of health care costs is meeting resistance from an unlikely group of 33 state insurance regulators, health insurers and consumer advocates charged with revising Medigap insurance policies that cover most out-of-pocket expenses.  The National Association of Insurance Commissioners assembled the group to come up with ways to raise the beneficiaries’ cost for the most popular and generous Medigap policies, a task Congress assigned to the association in the health law."

". . . the idea of shifting some costs to beneficiaries in Medigap policies has emerged as one of several proposals to reduce the federal deficit.  The proposals suggest that if Medigap policies cover less of beneficiaries’ costs, some seniors will be less likely to overuse Medicare-covered health care services."

You see, Medicare -- as important as it is -- does not cover everything an aged or disabled person might need.  Nor does it cover all the costs.  In spite of what Conservative Republicans might say, it is not nearly as generous or as broad as they would us to believe.  As a result, people need to purchase their own insurance to fill the gaps left by Medicare coverage.  This move would significantly increase the costs faced by seniors and the disabled.  Strangely ignored, the elderly and disabled do not themselves decide how much health care they use; doctors do.  And, co-payments and deductibles already deter overuse (and even simple, necessary use).  If you have a Medigap policy, you should read this article.

One of Perry's Monstrous Lies

"On Saturday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry told a group of voters that Social Security is a 'Ponzi scheme' and a 'monstrous lie' to younger Americans.  It's not the first time the GOP presidential candidate has made such claims.  The Texas governor also described Social Security as a Ponzi scheme in his 2010 book, "Fed Up!," and has argued the program is unconstitutional and could be handed over to the states."

"When politicians make clearly false claims, reporters have an obligation to explain to readers why those claims are false -- or at least quote someone who can.  . . .  Very simple: anyone who says that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme either misunderstands Social Security, misunderstands Ponzi schemes, is deliberately lying, or some combination of those."

Is it a misunderstanding of some sort?  Is it a deliberate lie?  Do you have an opinion?


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