Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Revamping Medicare, Medicare For All, Thoughts on Affordable Care

Proposals to Revamp Medicare

From Kaiser Health News:  "Congress is unlikely to consider legislation that would fundamentally restructure Medicare until a new Congress -- and possibly a new president -- are seated in 2013.  But politicians have sought to tackle the growth in Medicare costs several times in the past two years, most notably in the 2010 health care law and, then again, in last year's budget deal."

"The more immediate pressure is to reduce the deficit by the end of this year to stop automatic 2 percent spending cuts from going into effect in 2013, as required by last year's budget agreement.  That will likely entail slowing spending in Medicare, which provides health care to 47 million seniors and disabled people and consumes about 15 percent of the federal budget.  Kaiser Health News answered several frequently-asked questions about the timeline for overhauling Medicare and reducing spending, and the proposals under consideration."

Highly recommended, as is every piece of original work from Kaiser Health News.

Talk About Universal Medicare

"Conservatives and liberals may disagree about the constitutionality of the individual mandate requiring all uninsured Americans to buy health insurance from private companies or pay a penalty to the IRS.  But there is no debate about whether single-payer Medicare For All would be constitutional.  No one -- not even the most hard core, right-wing libertarians -- disputes that the federal government has the constitutional authority to tax all Americans to pay for Medicare-style health insurance for all, as it pays for Medicare for everyone over 65."

Supreme Court and Affordable Care

"Conservative intellectuals are feeling giddy.  Last week they feasted on the veritable mauling of Solicitor General Donald Verrilli by the Supreme Court’s five conservative justices.  (In truth, Verrilli was only questioned by four of the conservatives -- Justice Clarence Thomas, true to form, didn’t speak.)"

"... there is really no question that existing Commerce Clause doctrine squarely supports the law.  If the court wants to redefine Commerce Clause doctrine, five votes can do it.  But it will be an act of judicial activism and require an entire rewriting of our understanding of what powers Congress does and does not have in its arsenal to deal with national economic problems.  Bear in mind, the mandate in this case is conceptually no different from the existing mandate that every employed person pay into the fund that supports Medicare, whether the individual does now, or ever will, benefit from the Medicare system."

Sen. Schumer's Take

"Senator Chuck Schumer is trying to reset the expectations for the Supreme Court's ruling on the president's health care law."  "'If they were to throw out the health care law, things like Medicare, Social Security, food-safety laws could be in jeopardy on the very same grounds,' he said.  'It would be a dramatic, 180-degree turn of the tradition of the Commerce Clause.'"


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