Wednesday, December 14, 2011

GOP Wants To Means-Test Medicare, Hospitals vs. Republicans, Berwick Perspective, Fact Checking in Trouble, Home Care for Medicare

Middle Income Retirees Targeted by GOP

From NCPSSM:  "Let’s be really clear about one thing … the GOP plan to hike Medicare premiums for 'upper income' retirees rather than raising taxes on millionaires may sound like a an effort to deal with our nation’s massive economic inequity … but it isn’t even close.  The truth is this means-testing plan will hit middle class beneficiaries.  So, once again the GOP has proposed middle class benefit cuts (these wrapped in flimsy 'upper income' wrapping) to preserve tax cuts for the wealthy."

Thanks, again, to the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.  Once again, Conservative Republicans are trying to deceive the public -- and particularly the aged and disabled -- about their true intentions.

Hospitals and Republicans Fighting

"Hospitals have come out swinging against payment cuts to their industry included in the House Republican plan to stop a scheduled Medicare physician payment cut next January. And the House GOP is swinging right back.  As the House edges toward a vote Tuesday on legislation that would give physicians a two-year reprieve from a scheduled 27 percent payment cut next January, the House Republican Conference released several documents Monday detailing why they included hospital payment cuts as part of its plan to finance the 'doc fix.'"

Berwick: Don’t Blame Medicare, Medicaid. It’s The Delivery System

From Kaiser Health News:  "Dr. Donald Berwick, who oversaw Medicare and Medicaid until earlier this month, defended the programs Monday, but said they are trapped in a U.S. health system that promotes wasteful spending and inefficient care.  'Health care is broken,' Berwick said in an interview with Kaiser Health News.  '… We have set up a delivery system that is fragmented, unsafe, not patient-centered, full of waste and unreliable.  Despite the best efforts of the workforce, we built it wrong. It isn't built for modern times.'"  Don't miss the transcript or audio excerpts.

We agree thanks to decades of experience with both Medicare and Medicaid.  While we might not agree with every detail of Dr. Berwick's position, just about everyone knows full well that Medicare is only the means of paying for care.  The health care delivery system is much more complex than the payment systems alone.  However, reimbursement DOES DRIVE the system is many helpful and perverse ways.

Check The Facts

"PolitiFact, launched by the St. Petersburg Times four years ago with the aim of separating truth-telling from spin, is taking it from both sides these days.  Liberals are upset that the website has identified Democratic claims that Republicans want to abolish Medicare as one of its contenders for 'Lie of the Year.'  Igor Volsky, writing at the left-leaning site ThinkProgress, complains the supposed falsehood is actually '100 percent true!'  (Exclamation point most emphatically his.)"

"Later this month, PolitiFact will announce the winner of its 'Liar of the Year' award.  As Paul Waldman observes at the American Prospect, the 10 nominees are evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.  After two years of singling out Republican statements, Waldman predicts that the Democrats' Medicare 'lie' will be this year's winner, 'despite the fact that it's actually not a lie at all.'  As Waldman notes, it would amount to an exercise in the sort of false balance that fact-checking was supposed to transcend."

We've already talked about this.  It's very unfortunate that their understanding of Medicare apparently is so shallow.  We have called Ryan's plan a repeal of Medicare, because the extent of changes to the essential foundation of the program is so extensive.  We believe that if the St. Petersburg Times better understood Medicare, it would agree.  The Ryan proposal would abolish or repeal Medicare and  replace it with a similarly named -- but fundamentally different -- program.

Chronic Home Care

OPINION FROM Senator Ron Wyden:  "When the Veterans Affairs Department implemented a program to provide home-based health care to veterans with multiple chronic conditions -- many of the system's most expensive patients to treat -- they received astounding results. ...  In total, the cost of providing healthcare to these chronically ill patients shrunk by nearly 25 percent."

"Given these results, Congressman Ed Markey and I thought it only made sense to create a version of the program for Medicare beneficiaries.  After all, Medicare recipients with multiple chronic illnesses are among the highest-cost segment of the entire Medicare population -- making up roughly 5-8 percent of beneficiaries but accounting for more than 50 percent of total Medicare costs.  If a home-based Medicare program realized even just a fraction of the other programs' success, Medicare could save a lot of money (potentially billions) while improving health outcomes for millions of seniors."

The Republican "OOPS" Zone


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