Health Care Reform Hard Ball

Robert Waldmann

is a bit irritated with [many] US senior citizens. They want to keep the hands of the government off their medicare.* I don’t want to think what would happen if the government meddled with their social security pensions. Most US senior citizens are acting as egoistical hypocrites.

I would like to offer them a deal — let’s not change the laws governing US federal government financing of health care at all. Just say no to any change in the law.

I’ll explain the deal and why selfish seniors citizens would prefer ambitious health care reform after the jump.

update: the word “many” was added in response to a comment by Coberly. The unqualified assertion that senior citizens want to keep government hands off their medicare was an attempt at humor. I am sure that the vast majority of US senior citizens accept the fact that the medicare administration is part of the federal government (the few exceptions are authentic, not an urban myth, and a cause for reflection).

My actual thoughts on US senior citizens begin with the word “most”. The qualifier “acting as” is important. I did not speculate as to whether most are selfish or hypocritical, I just noted that they would act as they are acting if they were.

Thanks to Coberly for pointing out my error of omission (the word many) and the failure of my attempt at humor. I apologize to Coberly for the tone of my replies to his comments. I didn’t reread my post but assumed I remembered what I wrote.

Congress, being another bunch of hypocrites, forces the CBO to believe its promises of huge tax increases and spending cuts next year. This means that every year they need to pass a bill that says “no not this year next year.” One such bill is the annual alternative minimum tax fix. The other is the annual adjustment to medicare compensation rates.

Under current law, medicare compensation scales would be cut by very roughly IIRC 20%. The cuts hit next year and are relevant to deficit forecasts. Every year the cuts are put off one year so they don’t bother anyone. Those who don’t consider medicare a government program certainly don’t know that congress re-meddles with it every year. Now it is standard practice to adjust the compensation every year so no one notices the issue. It would be totally unreasonably and unlike Democrats to hold the standard yearly change in the law hostage.

Democrats in congress (I think Pelosi plus a majority of the conference committee) can present our nations senior citizens with a choice. Health care reform or nothing. With health care reform, the only thing that will change for senior citizens is they lose their beloved prescription drug doughnut hole. With no change, their doctor will suddenly be paid much less to care for them, unless he or she refuses to let the federal government take advantage of him or her.

The slogan “you can keep everything you have if health care is reformed” is good the slogan “you can keep everything you have if and only if health care is reformed” is better.