Sunday, December 9, 2012

Politics vs Rational Medicare Reform

I'm a staunch New England liberal/yellow dog Democrat. And I support Howard Dean's organization - Democracy for America. But I shuddered when I received this message in a fund-raising email:
Republicans lost big in the election, but John Boehner is trying to force his right-wing agenda on the American people anyway. Republicans in Congress are taking advantage of the fiscal showdown and trying to jam through massive cuts to Medicare that would be devastating to America's seniors. (emphasis in the original)
Republicans, occasionally joined by renegade Democrats, have plenty of bad ideas about Medicare, like raising the age of eligibility (see here) and turning Medicare into a voucher program (see here).

But experts agree that at least 30% of what we spend on health care is waste. I've talked with lots of practicing physicians about this. No one has ever estimated waste at less than 25%, and many have estimated it at 50%.

The threat to Medicare is dumb ideas like vouchers and raising the age of eligibility, not the idea of reducing the trend line of cost increases. Doing that is an economic necessity for a thriving economy and a moral necessity on behalf of future generations and other social needs.

Dumb cuts "would be devastating to America's seniors." Clinically guided waste reduction would be a positive service, not a devastation. I hope that behind closed doors and away from sloganeering, our leaders - Democrats & Republicans - will move beyond demagoguery to consider how the federal government can promote prudent waste reduction in the Medicare program.

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