Physicians Face Cuts
"Politicians of both parties outdo each other vying for the approval of seniors, but their inability to compromise on the federal budget has put Medicare in the crosshairs again. Unless Congress acts before Jan. 1, doctors face a 27 percent cut in their fees for treating Medicare patients. That could undermine health care for millions of elderly and disabled beneficiaries."
"There's nothing to laugh about, says a senior Washington lobbyist closely involved with the secretive supercommittee deliberations. The health care industry lobbyist, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to make public statements, said lawmakers of both parties wanted to deal with the cuts to doctors, but a fundamental partisan divide over tax increases blocked progress of any kind."
Romney's Radical Medicare Plan
"Mitt Romney’s ambitious plan to rein in federal Medicare spending would give America’s seniors a choice: choose government insurance or use a federal voucher to buy medical insurance from private companies. The idea, according to Romney, is to drive down costs by introducing market competition. The proposal is similar in some respects to the plan Romney introduced as governor of Massachusetts and partially borrows from ideas pursued by Republicans in Congress and floated by a bipartisan group in Washington."
"But while Romney’s partial privatization route is applauded by some as a courageous solution to runaway costs, Democrats and some other critics say that it relies too heavily on unreliable market forces to lower costs. They contend it lacks strong regulatory checks on runaway medical inflation."
Once again, Republicans -- and Mr. Romney in particular -- are trying to rely on "markets" and "competition" where neither exists. Health care and health insurance cannot be delivered without regulatory control. It has been shown repeatedly that market forces do not align well with the interests of people who need health care. The difficulties are in the details, and of course Mr. Romney's plan is short on details, but not merely because details are difficult. Considering that the large majority of Americans like Medicare as it is (recognizing that minor changes could be helpful), he of course must take the politically expedient route of not mentioning the damage he would cause to Medicare and to present and future beneficiaries.
Joint Committee Fallout
OPINION: Why Does the Democratic Party Continue to Work Against the 99%? "The continued irrationality of the GOP's steadfast rejection of any tax increases on the wealthiest among us continues to be the major sticking point. Of course, if the GOP had its way, the Bush tax cuts would go on into perpetuity, which is what this dance has always been about, despite their wild-eyed squawking about the deficit. Thankfully, the Dems -- for once -- refused to take the GOP's bait, and balked at cutting our safety nets of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid without tax increases, resulting in another standoff and the failure of the Committee."
For Your Information
Why We Occupy: Visualizing The 2012 Federal Discretionary Budget: "One reason so many people have taken to the streets as part of the 99 Percent Movement is because of the country’s lopsided priorities. The following graphic shows the makeup of federal discretionary spending in the Fiscal Year 2012 budget. As you can see, the military eats up a lion’s share of the spending, while social priorities fall by the wayside.