Thursday, November 17, 2011

Joint Committee - Medicare and the Middle Class Heavily Targeted by GOP, Advocates' and Lobbyists' Wish List, Free Market Medicare

Republicans Increase Demands

"Shortly after catching heat from Democrats, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) addressed reporters in the Cannon House Office Building to revise and extend controversial Tuesday comments, which threw the Super Committee’s prospects into doubt.  ...  And Republicans won’t budge, he insisted, unless Democrats take agree [sic] to far-reaching plan to change Medicare."  "Hensarling hinted that his hard line on new taxes might not be so hard … but only if Democrats are willing to fundamentally overhaul Medicare."

The Conservative Republicans are keeping up the pressure and pushing harder than ever.  Could this mean that they are about to break?  Or does it mean that they are never going to give up?  Given that so many Americans support Medicare, how is it that the Grand Old Party can put itself into such a position where virtually all of its power can slip away?  The wealthy who are pushing the party don't care too much, because they can always get someone else to do their bidding.  They have no loyalty to Republicans, only to themselves.  But the Republicans -- who already have conceded their power to the Tea Party -- have much to lose.

The Rich Get Richer

FROM NCPSSM:  "The Republican supercommittee Co-Chair couldn’t be clearer about his party’s priorities for deficit reduction -- the GOP will only agree to a deficit plan that includes massive cuts in middle-class benefits combined with even lower taxes for the wealthy.  With just days left before its deadline,  it is obvious that the only deal that will come from this supercommittee is one that slashes benefits to middle class Americans while cutting taxes for the rich.  In other words, a doubling down of the failed fiscal policies which got us here in the first place."

Once again, NSPSSM is right on target.  And, again, the Conservative Republicans are showing that they intend to destroy Social Security and Medicare -- our most valued pre-paid public benefits -- in spite of support in the polls for keeping Medicare and Social Security strong and viable.  Thank you NCPSSM.  If you're not a member of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and  Medicare, you should be.

Political Battle Continues

"It would be anything but tragic if the super committee process broke down over Republican intransigence.  In fact, it would be terrific!  But continued Democratic missteps could lead to a real tragedy.  Right now Harry Reid and the president are both insisting that those triggers be enacted to both defense and domestic cuts if the committee fails to propose a plan.  That puts them in the position of advocating Medicare cuts that Republicans can then claim to have opposed.  The GOP ran that play against them in 2010, and it worked."

MORE:  Republicans Could Bend On Taxes If Super Committee 'Goes Big.'  The Conservative Republicans on the Joint Committee keep trying new tricks to trap the Democrats.  The Dems have come close to stumbling a few times, but so far have kept mostly out of trouble.  This is a battle of political wits.

Interest Group Wish List: A Window Into The Challenge For The Super Committee

REQUIRED READING from Kaiser Health News:  "In the weeks since this panel was established, thousands of organizations have weighed in -- offering ideas and assistance about how to reach this target, and even warnings about the dire implications some steps could have.  To help give a sense of the enormity of the pressure faced by panel members, KHN has examined just one of many areas the committee must consider.  Here is a sampling of the advice and requests from health care interests."

Taking Medicare Closer to the "Free Market"

OPINION:  "As Congress faces mounting pressure to rein in Medicare spending, two sides seem to be squaring off.  The don’t-touch-a-thing-other-than-squeezing-provider-fees position seems to appeal to mainly Democrats, while eat-your-spinach reforms, including more cost sharing and higher premiums, seem to appeal mainly to Republicans.  Neither position is very appealing to voters, however, nor should they be.  Is there a third way?  Is there a way to get the job done and appeal to voters -- young and old -- at the same time?  We think there is.  To see how it might work, we first have to understand that what Medicare is currently trying to do is virtually impossible."

From the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) is a "nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization."  Their main goal is "to develop and promote private, free-market alternatives to government regulation and control."

The authors make Medicare sound very difficult and confusing.  However, it's no more difficult or confusing than any other health insurance program.  AND, it's administratively efficient, with no added costs due to profit.  While there certainly are improvements that could be made in Medicare, the arguments here are not persuasive.  Furthermore, as long as there is health insurance, there cannot be a "marketplace" for the health care industry.  Many of the authors' ideas are creative; some might even deserve further analysis or demonstration, but overall, I don't think this is on the right track.

For Your Information

Of Interest


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