Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Joint Committee, Reducing Medicare Costs, Social Security Debate

Joint Committee Hears From Beneficiaries

"Advocates are making sure that lawmakers on the deficit-cutting supercommittee hear directly from patients on Medicare and the doctors who care for them as they prepare to shave $1.5 trillion off the federal deficit.  The Medicare Rights Center wrote to supercommittee members ahead of its first substantive meeting Tuesday urging them to 'seek out, and listen carefully to, the voices of people with Medicare -- not just to those of economists, policymakers and health care experts -- as you deliberate over proposals that would alter Medicare.'"

This is a much-needed action; of necessity, Committee members should have an understanding of -- and empathy for -- the people who need and rely on Medicare and how it helps them.  The Medicare Rights Center is one of the finest of America's advocacy organizations for the aged and disabled.  They have grown in prominence and capacity over the years and deserve our support.  They understand the impact of public policy on individuals -- this is not an academic exercise for them, because every day they counsel and help people to understand Medicare.  They know and understand how changes in the law and regulations affect the beneficiaries of America's pre-paid public health care benefit.


    >  From Senator Murray:  Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction

When their Web site is created, I will pass the URL on to you.

Reducing Medicare Costs By Reducing Health Care Costs

"The American Academy of Actuaries Medicare Steering Committee is urging the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to develop proposals to slow health care spending growth to improve the long-term solvency and sustainability of the Medicare program.  'Health care spending growth is threatening the sustainability of not only the Medicare program and the overall health system, but also the nation’s fiscal health,' said Cori Uccello, the senior health fellow for the American Academy of Actuaries. 'Our message to the members of the committee is that achieving long-term sustainability for Medicare will require slowing the growth in overall health spending, not simply shifting costs from one payer to another.'"

It makes sense to consider Medicare's costs in the context of all health care spending.  However, the Academy's statement sounds too one-sided for my taste.  All the various components of health care spending from actual care and services to the sources of funds need to be considered together -- a tremendously complex matter.  All health care costs are interrelated.  For example, Medicaid is a huge driver of health care costs, and it also impacts on the costs of other, related human and social services.

Social Security Debate Continues

"Mitt Romney refused to let Rick Perry off the Social Security hook, challenging him at the start of the GOP debate Monday night to repudiate the position in his book that the old-age insurance program is a 'Ponzi scheme' that should be run by the states.  'Do you still believe that Social Security should be ended as a federal program?' Romney asked.  'We should have a conversation,' Perry replied.  'We're having that right now,' Romney said.  'You're running for president.'"

"Maybe all the attacks on Rick Perry’s Social Security rhetoric are starting to have an effect after all.  In the opening round of Monday night’s CNN/Tea Party Express debate in Florida, Perry offered up a promise to senior citizens: the program will not change for you.  'The people who are on social security today need to understand something,' Perry said.  'Slam-dunk guaranteed, that program is going to be there in place for those people.'"

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