Cynthia Lummis’s (Stunningly) Glib Fraud: A Follow-Up
Cynthia Lummis, a wealthy Republican House member from Wyoming, claims her husband passed away, thanks in part to Obamacare. Lummis cited the law as a major contributing factor to her husband’s demise. Instead of blaming her husband, who could easily have afforded the test (who elected to skip the necessary diagnostic), she blames the best thing to happen to millions of low income Americans, Obamacare.
From Addicting Info:
Cynthia Lummis is actually among one of the richest members of Congress. In 2007-2008, Representative Lummis’ financial disclosure forms reported a net worth between $20 million and $75 million… Obamacare wasn’t designed for people who have $20-$75 million. It was passed so the rest of us, who are either self-employed or have no access to insurance, can afford health care. It’s not the fault of the law that Lummis’s husband chose not to get a potentially life saving test – if he chose not to get the test.
Steve Doocy was desperately trying to dramatize her ‘poignant’ moment during these ridiculous hearings based on a pompous MIT economics professor speaking candidly. Lummis would not take the bait and blame her husband’s death entirely on the healthcare law. But she was willing to attribute a likely mistake in coverage to the passing of her husband. She believes men in general are easily dissuaded from seeking medical care, so any little glitch or problem will convince them to discount medical advice.
It’s truly disingenuous to blame a death on a law which is reliant on the insurance marketplace, as we all know insurance companies aren’t exactly cooperative and committed to the well-being of their customers. They are, like Republicans, only interested in financial gain and not human lives. Her husband’s choices and consequences should not deny insurance to the millions of poor people who finally have access to medical care. But they sure as hell will try their best to perpetuate the Republican Cult of Death and take away as much as they can from poor and needy Americans.
— Cynthia Lummis Lies And Blames Obamacare For Her Husband’s Death, Crooks and Liars, yesterday
I can’t figure out which is worse. That this woman dragged her dead husband into this witch hunt to make a political point, or that she is so stupid to not realize that her story makes no sense.
And [Washington Post political blogger Nia-Malika] Henderson really needs to get a clue.
— EMichael, comment this morning to my post yesterday titled “Cynthia Lummis’s (Stunningly) Glib Fraud”
The one thing I wish Crooks and Liars had added to that post was that Lummis mentioned that her husband was 65 years old. He therefore was on Medicare–although Lummis failed to say that.*
Indeed, that may well have been what caused the confusion when he sent in his claim to “Obamacare”; he turned 65 last January, and this might have been his first use of Medicare, and that might have someow complicated the matter. But in any event the cost at issue would have been the difference between what Medicare paid for the various tests he had, and would have paid for the test he did not have, and the portion of the remainder of the charges that the “Obamacare” plan that Lummis and her husband purchased was supposed to pay for as Medicare supplement coverage.
Lummis is trying to get away with murder here—the murder of others. I really, really would like to see one of the high-profile fact-checker blogs inquire into why Lummis was effectively claiming that “Obamacare” negated her husband’s access to Medicare coverage. Nor was her husband even required under the ACA to have insurance beyond just Medicare, although of course the additional coverage was free, courtesy of his wife’s employment with the federal government.
Might the Washington Post’s own Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler, be interested in pointing this out?
But the Cooks and Liars highlights a critical point: that the ACA is reliant on the insurance marketplace, and, as we all know, insurance companies aren’t exactly cooperative and committed to the well-being of their customers. Thus the problems—of the sort that Lummis complained of and of the sort that virtually everyone else who complains about it, complains about.
Such as Catherine Keefe, whose op-ed published yesterday in the Washington Post, is titled “I’m an Obama supporter. But Obamacare has hurt my family.” The subtitle is “Obamacare has been far more frustrating than I’d ever dreamed.” Chances are, I’d say, excellent that Keefe wrote the subtitle but not the title, since the subtitle accurately summarizes her piece but the title does not.
What Keefe’s complaint, like most other accurately stated complaints about the ACA are really complaints about this country’s for-profit, market-based healthcare insurance industry. So were Lummis’s. Keefe’s only actual harm from the ACA itself, as opposed to harm from the obnoxious insurance-industry-created provider-networks system—a factor now in most employer-based insurance coverage, although that’s rarely mentioned in the media—is that as a 56-year-old woman (her husband is 59), she should not have to purchase a plan that includes children’s dental coverage and maternity care. Point taken, but that would be an easy fix. (Missing from her article is mention of two benefits from the ACA that may matter to her husband: no annual nor lifetime coverage cap. She does, though, note her gratitude for the ACA’s having ended the pre-existing-conditions thing, a big factor for husband, especially, but also for her.)
As for Lummis, what she’s really complaining about is that, thanks to an amendment offered by Sen. Charles Grassley (R. IA) to the original ACA bill as it was being debated in Congress, members of Congress and their staffs no longer are covered by the federal government’s famously generous and user-friendly healthcare coverage. They now must, like regular folk, deal with the for-profit, market-based healthcare insurance industry that she and her ideological cohorts claim to hold in such high esteem.
As I read Keefe’s op-ed yesterday, what struck me is how very ready huge swaths of the public are for Medicare-for-all. And how thoroughly clueless most politicians, political operatives and pundits are that this is so. Lummis’s husband needed simply to schedule that final test and present his Medicare card when he arrived at the medical facility. And that’s how simple and direct such things should be for everyone. Including the spouses of people whose financial assets don’t range between $20 million and $75 million.
*Post edited slightly to clarify that while Lummis mentioned her husband’s age, she failed to note that he had Medicare coverage–a key point I made in my earlier post. 12/11 at 1:07 p.m.
Sorry, Lummis had one more simple option. Make the appointment and pay for the test. Medical providers do not turn down money for services rendered. If you are rich, you do not need insurance to guarantee payment to get medical care.
Tuna is certainly correct. Another point to consider is that if you have some form of proof of insurance like a benefits card ID almost any health provider, especially health organizations doing the tests such as CAT, MRI, EKG, EEG,etc. will bill the insurance company directly even if there is an error in the coverage. The errors get corrected after the fact, but the testing gets done.
A personal experience very recently brought this to my attention. I’ve been covered by Medicare A & B since late 2013. I have the card from Medicare indicating that. I have supplemental, but that isn’t part of the issue. i go to three Dr. appts. in late 2014. I get a notice from Medicare telling me that the claims were denied because Medicare is not my secondary. I didn’t know that Medicare was ever a secondary coverage, but I call Medicare. “Oh yes sir we see how that happened. You didn’t notify Medicare back in 2013 about the change.” Me, “but I must have. I have the card showing A&B coverage and the Medicare premium is deducted from my SS check every month.” Medicare, “Not to worry. We’ve made the change now that you have informed us. Tell your providers to resubmit.” Double talk to a degree, but I got the health care first and was able to clarify the screw up later.
Oh, if you need to call Medicare do it at about 10:30PM Eastern time. Nearly immediate and courteous response.
Interesting, Jack. Here’s betting that the glitch concerning Lummis’s husband’s coverage had nothing to do with the DC exchange. Here’s also betting that the problem was straightened out well before her husband died.
As I understand her comments, she was saying that she was unaware until after her husband’s death that his doctor had recommended a final diagnostic test that her husband had decided not to have; the doctor told her this after her husband’s death. So she’s conceding that her tie-in with the insurance glitch is entirely speculative. Except that it’s actually NOT speculative; it flatly could not have played any role at all in her husband’s decisionmaking.
Tea baggers lie, repeat tea bagger lie!
the normal sequence of tests for chest pain start with a full blood panel, chest xrays and EKG…if those show nothing, they’ll recommend a stress test, and if that’s odd or inconclusive, a heart catheterization (wherein they run a long scope in from your groin artery up to your heart to look for blockages)
i’ll bet he balked at the latter…
Two years ago tomorrow, I drove to the ER with “mild” chest pains. The took two blood samples (wrist and elbow area). I was wheeled off to imaging for a picture or two. By the time I came back, they were waiting for me and was wheeled back and placed in a bed.
Before I knew their names, one nurse grabbed one pants leg and the other grabbed the other, after I loosened my belt, and they pants me (thank goodness I had undies on and they were clean [mom would have been proud]). The mild pain had been going on since before Thanksgiving and I thought I was getting pneumonia again.
8 days later and a triple bypass, I left the hospital. Don’t recommend it, did not expect it (Cholesterol was 110), and I was joking with them all the time.
The catheterization happened in the ER. One second I was laying there and the next second I was out. ~ $80,000 at MedCentral in Mansfield, Ohio. The nurses and PAs took good care of me.
Rjs, that’s exactly what I was thinking: that that final test was pretty invasive and he didn’t want to have it unless there were clear indications that it was necessary. Which, once he started having chest pains, it clearly was, but people delude themselves. His wife knows the full story, of course, but prefers to misrepresent it in the service of trying to keep others from access to affordable healthcare.
This is a big news week, because of the torture report and the budget deal, so Lummis probably will escape real scrutiny on this. That’s really too bad.
see, that’s how it happens, Bill; if you’d have fought that pantsing, Beverly’d be wrting about you here instead…
i had my chest pains to heart catheterization sequence in summer of 2013, and they didnt find anything wrong with my heart, not even plaque…i’m guessing my screwy EKGs or whatever they saw on the stress test was lingering damage from the myxedema coma i was in for a month in 2006, at which time they tell me they were recording multiple infarctions a day…
My #1 issue with the ACA is that every year I have to go through the task of “shopping” for coverage. No where else in our lives do we have to do this for such a big purchase. And, it’s not a simple task because what I’m purchasing is literally a document, not a thing. And, this document is unlike most other insurance documents. Too many clauses, too many ways to get from point A (my money) to point B (my money in the hands of the provider). All of these ways having the primary purpose of limiting my use of the real produce of obtaining health and healing so that the middle person keeps as much of my money as possible.
In short, I hate that I have to play a game every year with my life in a game that is not quiet balanced regarding the 2 players, me and the potential insurer. I don’t need “choices” in this aspect of obtaining health and healing. I don’t need a “market place” of choice of insurance. I don’t want to gamble with this particular risk.
Rich people as noted don’t need to go through this arduous task yearly.
As to buying maternity coverage, or family coverage that included children, this is a fallacy of believing and then acting upon to create a system of insurance that is a market place of choices. Because the least expensive way out of all this is for everyone to be in the same pool.
Yeah, Bill. A big, big bear hug. I was thinking about your experience when I was writing my posts and comments.
And, rjs—a big bear hug to you, too. So glad you made it through your medical ordeal and are fine.
Luv ya both.
Daniel, your comment is as spot-on as can be. This “market-based” fetishized system, marketed as “freedom! Liberty!—as if Australians, Germans, the Dutch, Scandinavians, Israelis, Canadians, Britons, Taiwanese, Italians, etc., etc., are enslaved by having simple, direct access to excellent healthcare, without constant fear of sudden large expenses and spiraling annual per-month “premiums”—is downright obscene.
Can you imagine if the 2016 Dem presidential nominee proposed an end to the nonsense, in favor of single-payer, Medicare-for-all-buy-in type of system? It’s not just people who have individual healthcare plans purchased in the “market place” who would be thrilled. Almost everyone, other than federal employees, who have employer-based coverage would be thrilled.
Bill’s experience highlights some major problems with pre-ACA employer-based coverage that apparently most people (e.g., Keefe) already have forgotten: the annual and lifetime coverage caps.
Except for a bout with pneumonia, caused by what probably was swine flu, during the 2009 epidemic, Bill had had no major health problems for a very long time. Then, in 2012, he needed emergency surgery—and so used up quite a bit of his annual coverage cap. And then, shortly before the end of the year, the events he describes in his comment occurred. Luckily the surgery, hospitalization, and follow-up care through the end of the year came in under the annual cap, but barely. Because his heart problem occurred so late in the year, the full costs of the months-long care for it were split between two years and therefore two annual caps.
But that system was CRAZY. And the current one is only slightly less so.
Sorry, but this is a bit confusing.
If Lummis was enrolled in Medicare then he had nothing to do with Obamacare. Enrollment in Medicare Part A meets the requirement for minimal insurance of PPACA. Medigap policies are sold outside the exchange. It sounds like what happened is that Lummis tried to use a either a Medigap policy as a first provider or he tried to purchase insurance on the exchange and was likely directed to Medicare since if he’s eligible virtually all insurance would require him to use Medicare as first provider.
There’s one scenario where that might not be true that I’m aware of (there may be others) and that one doesn’t apply thanks to Mr. Grassley’s asinine amendment. Medicare eligibles covered by FEHBP, the federal exchange, automatically are enrolled in Part A but they can opt out of Part B – sometimes it’s actually cheaper to pay the exchange premiums since FEHBP doesn’t sell any Medigap or wrap around plans. But, because of Grassley’s amendment Congressional spouses can’t use FEHBP.
So the most charitable way to look at this is that Lummis was either too stupid or lazy to apply for Medicare. What likely happened then was that when he tried to enroll through the PPACA exchange his application was kicked back since his age indicated he was eligible for Medicare. At that point he could have followed directions or perhaps used his wife’s office to get the basic information anyone pretty much knows and gone and signed up with Medicare.
So probably due to his own lack of responsibility (Republicans love that word don’t they) he may not have had insurance (stress here on the word may). Then to compound his irresponsibility he didn’t follow up on his doctor’s advice and get a relatively inexpensive test that was well within his means. Representative Lummis, Obamacare didn’t kill your husband, either lack of personal responsibility or ideology did. And you madam are the definition of both evil and stupid for trying to make hay out of a situation which was within your control to avoid and hardly credible as you described it. Here’s a link that discusses the intersection of PPACA, Medicare, and supplemental. http://www.obamacarefacts.com/medicare/medigap
You are absolutely right.
We are told that choice (except when it applies to women’s reproductive decisions) is the operative word in our market economy, uh no society. The fact is that a great deal of so called choice is designed to create obfuscation, complexity, and cognitive overload, all of which work to the advantage of companies only interested in a sale not a customer. Do we really need or want 42 different cell phone plans? Worse when the plans are offered in narrow markets controlled by oligopolies or monopolists they are hardly competitive.
The Right worships at the altar of “competition”, so much so that they go apoplectic over competition in healthcare, a field with asymmetries of both knowledge and power that isn’t really conducive to competition. Hospitals and doctors don’t post prices and one probably doesn’t want to purchase healthcare on the basis of price (certainly not when our patent and intellectual property system inflates prices).
Creating a middleman, the insurance company, to negotiate the healthcare market only complicates the system, and in ways that don’t really solve any basic problems. Healthcare, like food and shelter, is a basic human need. In a relatively wealthy society we should be able to deliver access to basic human needs in reasonable and humane ways.
The sort of redistribution that ensures that basic human needs are met in a way consistent with the relative wealth of the society is not socialism, but rather fundamental justice. The PPACA was an improvement over what existed but our whole system of health insurance is a Rube Goldberg device sitting on top of a very ugly truth, no just society would fight over methods of health insurance when health care was the issue and no just society would have a place for a term like “healthcare industry”.
Hi, Mark. Not that it matters substantively, but just a couple of points about Lummis’s husband, Alvin Wiederspahn (“Lummis” is Cynthia’s birth name): As I mentioned in my first post on this, Wiederspahn himself was a Democrat, at least originally; his family were prominent Dems in Cheyenne, and he and Lummis met when they were across-the-aisle Wyoming state legislators in the early 1980s. Whatever his eventual party affiliation (I suspect he had none late in life), he apparently remained a Dem at heart. According to obituaries, he played a large role in raising money for Cheyenne’s largest homeless shelter, and also was active in efforts to preserve historic buildings in Cheyenne. In other words, Wiederspahn was nothing like his wife.
Now to the main point: Thanks so much for the info on the FEHBP and (especially) on the interplay between Medicare and the private policies purchased on the ACA-established exchanges—which is exactly what I’d assumed. It’s anyone’s guess whose error it was in processing Wiederspahn’s claim as a non-Medicare private-insurance claim, but my guess is that it was the medical lab’s or doctor’s office’s. That is, it likely had nothing at all to do with the DC “Obamacare” exchange and instead was the result of some unrelated error concerning his only recently becoming eligible for Medicare.
But just to be clear on this: Even under FEHBP, doesn’t Medicare become the primary insurer for federal employees or their spouses who are age 65 or older?
It’s possible Weiderspahn didn’t qualify for Medicare. He’s quite wealthy and his income may not have come from wages which means he may not have paid in, although my understanding is that in that circumstance you can buy into Medicare Part A and B. If that’s the case then there may have been some confusion in getting a policy from PPACA since they would first make sure he was not Medicare eligible.
The thing is, that’s not the way Lummis tells the story. I watched the tape and she’s essentially saying his claims were denied which means he had a policy of some sort. A denied claim isn’t Obamacare, that’s sop for insurance. As others have said, you get the care you need and then figure out the billing.
I was probably too hard on Wiederspahn but it sounds like he wasn’t especially responsible. As for his wife, if I could have said it even uglier I would have. Actually this one reminds me of the lady you posted about way back when. She was blaming all sorts of things on PPACA when the fact was she hadn’t even shopped the exchange. Unfortunately the term Obamacare is becoming generic for every sort of insurance snafu, another example of Republicans framing the narrative.
Now, for FEHBP, Federal employees and their agencies pay into Medicare so Federal employees are eligible for Medicare. You get Part A automatically – no premiums attached. So insurers in FEHBP will require Medicare be first payer for anything covered by Part A, mostly hospitalization. That’s alsonthe way most employer provided coverage works for Medicare eligibles.
Part B comes with premium charges and Federal employees can elect not to take it and just let their FEHBP policy act as first insurer. In some cases, for people with few bills that makes sense. Why pay the $99 premium for part B and also pay your FEHBP premium if you don’t go to the doctor much? Also, since the FEHBP policies are full coverage most come with drug coverage so no need for Part D.
For someone like me it makes sense to take both. I have horrendous expenses due to a chronic illness with ver expensive infusion treatments. In my case Medicare B will act as first payer and my FEHBP policy through Blue Cross will act as Medigap. This is actually a big issue for the Federal budget and particularly the Postal Service. If Federal employees were required to take Part B (like most private employer plans require) then FEHBP could offer Medigap or wrap around plans that have much cheaper premiums for both the agency and the employee.
This would literally save the Federal government billions in premiums. GAO has estimated that the retiree health benefit fund that has put the Postal Service in debt would essentially be unnecessary if that one change was made. Republicans argue that the costs would simply be shifted to Medicare but the employees and agencies have already paid the premium and Medicare actuarially accounts for those people as eligibles (about 27% of eligible Federal employees and retirees don’t sign up for Part B).
Thanks for that explanation, Mark. I’d love to see you write up a full post on this, especially that the FEHBP, unlike most private employer plans, allow the option to decline take Medicare Part B—and what this means, financially for the Post Office budget.
And I love your comment that “[u]nfortunately the term Obamacare is becoming generic for every sort of insurance snafu, another example of Republicans framing the narrative.” Yup. Of course, our president, by his bizarre silence, from beginning to present, invited that. And then, of course, he was joined in this by Dem congressional candidates, who thought it was a great idea to do what Obama was doing: simply fail to respond to the lies, and not bother to remind people that most of the problems they were complaining about were problems caused by the insurance industry.
The harm that Obama has inflicted by his inexcusable silence on that and on a slew of other issues is just breathtaking. There’s almost certainly never been another president who has simply abandoned the responsibility to correct misrepresentations and widespread misunderstandings and false beliefs about points that are absolutely key to advancing his own and his party’s policy and political interests. Ever. Ever.
Maybe sometime before the 2016 elections, we’ll have some candidates who aggressively disabuse the public of the falsehoods?
As for Wiederspahn, he was a well-known, practicing lawyer in Cheyenne. He might have been retired at the time of his death (I don’t know), but from what I read, he was a practicing lawyer for long enough to have been eligible for Medicare. His family long owned, and still owns, a funeral home in Cheyenne, and his father also was a doctor who also was Cheyenne’s coroner for a while, so his family was wealthy by ordinary earlier-era standards but not as compared to his wife’s family. According to Wikipedia, most of the couple’s wealth was inherited from her family, which owned a ranch and a hardware business.
In any event, it sure seems likely that the screw-up in Wiederspahn’s insurance claim was because of some glitch related to his having recently become eligible for Medicare—in other words, something that nothing at all to do with “Obamacare.” I’d love to see some journalist look into that, and if Lummis learned this at some point before kast week, then point that out as well.
I would like to point out that a contributor here was arguing a few months ago that Medicare was bad because the Congress couldn’t be trusted to not sell favors to providers. And that therefore we needed to rely on competition among insurance companies to lower medical costs.
This proposal was accepted with great enthusiasm by some.
I didn’t like it because I regard the insurance companies as the bad guys (along with the providers… who have some excuse in that expensive medical care is probably “better” in their minds.)
I did not like Obamacare exactly because it enshrined the corporate system that has caused the high costs and unreliable or unavailable coverage in the first place.
All of this made me something of a bad guy to the left.
I have suggested for those who admire competition that the government could act as “single payer” while contracting out actual insurance coverage to insurance companies on a bid basis… said companies insuring a designated pool under a government designed plan… similar to the way highway contracts are awarded.
This would put the government in a position to “do the shopping”… the gov has the knowledge to do this that ordinary people don’t.
I have also suggested that raising the Medicare premium so we all pay for our own insurance (all of it) would be the best and simplest way to pay for it. But this makes me really the “enemy of the Left.”
The fact remains that we pay for it anyway. Single payer by a dedicated transparent “tax,” would just make the whole process transparent and therefore easier to keep an eye on.
I am aware there are difficulties with this approach. I believe they can be solved quite reasonably, but not as long as everyone is committed to their own ideological-hysterical answer.
Insurance companies do not and never did drive the cost of healthcare. Their profit margin in most cases was very slim. Today under the PPACA, it is even regulated more closely with it being inclusive of a 15% cost maximum for group and 20% cost maximum for individual coverage. Your suggestion of having everyone on Medicare pay the other 47% borrowed money to fund Medicare in premiums would do nothing to control the cost of healthcare.
Congress could today allow Medicare to negotiate the cost of MRIs, Procedures, Pharma, etc. by letting Medicare do so. Congress in its infinite wisdom has decided not to do so as a favor to the healthcare industry and its lobbyists. England has single payer insurance and also all of the healthcare workers are paid by the government. When Thatcher cut funding to healthcare, care to the population was also cut resulting in rationing (result of a conversation between Barkley and I). The same as the USPS is being attacked, Social Security being attacked, Medicare being attacked, SNAP being attacked, Unemployment Comp., etc. being attacked; Healthcare in the form of single payer would also be attacked. Raising the premiums to cover total cost would do “nothing” to control healthcare costs and is akin to the Republican idea that consumers could somehow magically control the cost of healthcare through negotiation with doctors and hospitals. Paul Ryan’s plan was to offer vouchers to people to pay for insurance and healthcare. Neither has impact on healthcare. The elderly could not afford to pay the other part of the premium for Medicare you are advocating.
If you had read Maggie’s comments (and you still can), you would find out few countries on this planet have single payer and most have a combination of public financed healthcare and supplemental insurance. Just about all who advocate for single payer on this blog and other blogs typically do not know what they are asking for and advocating. Your comments fall into this category.
Bill has reposted several of our articles from STPO which discuss the postal financing issues in detail but I may write up another.
Basically it’s fairly simple. Major postal reform had been in the works for years. The last major reform had been in 1970 although there had been several significant changes to the PRA over the years.
In 2006 Congress committed to a major overhaul which became known as PAEA (Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act). PAEA changed the rate and regulatory system but it also addressed significant overpayments into the two pension funds, at least $27 billion. Congress recognized the overpayments but due to budget scoring rules they weren’t about to simply return the money to the Postal Service; Postal Service revenues and expenses are off budget but contributions to retirement funds are on budget.
As a means of correcting the overpayments but keeping the bill deficit neutral the Bush administration came up with the idea of prefunding retiree health benefits. The Postal Service had been on a pay as you go basis but one of the great Republican framing fallacies is “unfunded liabilities”. So it was decided that the Postal Service should prefund 75 years worth of retiree health benefits. The thing is that CBO budget scoring outlooks go out ten years so PAEA set up a ten year amortization schedule for the alleged unfunded liability.
The result was that the Postal Service continued to pay retiree health benefits on a pay go basis, they couldn’t begin to access the new RHBF until 2017, but now they had to pay an average of $5.5 billion per year into the new fund. The original pension overpayments were not returned to the Postal Service but dumped into the fund the couldn’t touch.
So now the Postal Service had to come up with an additional $5.5 billion a year out of thin air. PAEA allowed them to make a “profit” but the new rate regime capped rates at inflation so the idea the Postal Service was going to find all this extra money was a total fiction. PAEA also created a $15 billion borrowing line with the Treasury but the legislative record was pretty clear that this was simply a cynical mechanism to turn the annual payments into debt – that’s the $15 billion in debt you read about which the Postal Service borrowed then simply returned to another Treasury account.
When the financial crisis hit Postal Service revenues and volumes took a hit. Hell, Citibank alone dropped 3 billion pieces. All those credit card and mortgage solicitations dried up over night (so much for the story that the Internet killed volume).
Eighty percent of the losses sustained by the Postal Service over the last seven years are directly attributable to RHBF (another ten percent related to convoluted accounting for workman’s comp). Operationally the Postal Service has been break even or better in several quarters that showed huge losses.
The real kicker to all this is that GAO has said that virtually the entire unfunded liability for retiree health benefits evaporates if postal Medicare eligibles were required to take Medicare Part B (as I said in an earlier comment, if all Federal employees were required to take Part B and if FEHBP offered Medigap policies the budget savings would be billions per year).
Some of the organizations that represent Federal employees have resisted the change but quite frankly they don’t have very solid ground to stand on. The only real issue is that there are penalties for failing to sign up for Part B within the first year of eligibility, essentially premiums are raised a certain percentage for every year of failing to sign up. There’s actual an easy and very fair fix for that, a one time Open Season amnesty in which those who hadn’t selected Part B could sign up without penalty.
So, all those postal losses are essentially an accounting fiction. Yes, the postal network faces challenges from new technologies but that story is much more complex and not nearly as dire as proffered. Moreover, the Federal government could save billions on employee insurance costs with an eminently fair and mostly painless fix that would have minimal impact on !edicare financing.
The thing is that politicians, mostly but not entirely Republicans would rather kick the crap out of public employees. They would love to break the postal unions and have clearly said as much. Federal employees went without raises for several years, the workforce has been reduced (sorry Republicans but it’s an outright lie that Federal employment has widely increased and if you look at per capita employment, how many government workers per hundred thousand in population, the Federal employment is at its lowest level in two generations – so much for big government).
If Democrats lost elections because the electorate chose to follow a legitimate set of polict prescriptions offered by Republicans and backed by some semblance of reality, it would be a shame but the response would be to change Democratic platforms or to work harder to convince people of the value of progressive policies. The problem is that at least since Reagan Republicans have been foisting up straw men and illusions and Democrats have not only failed burst those myths, they have essentially conceded the narrative and surrendered the battlefield to a toxic version of Orwellian Newspeak.
Exactly when did Alvin pass away, after he reached 65, how many days after he reached 65 ?
Also, Mark J made a comment that is not correct, there are no exclusions to a person getting medicare, all be there are charge offsets where the income of a person, (level) is used as an offset, a very complex formula.(run by the HEALTH FINANCE PEOPLE of the FEDS)
Also, did Alvin have a medicare supplement for parts A & D. in place when he passed.(A CARD)
Ms Lummis did such a drama show for FOX, she may have talent on T V, as the world turns, but her dealing in facts left so much to be desired.
Isn’t it obvious that having Lummis as his spouse was very stressful, so much so he never needed to use Medicare part B, he just up and died.
Granted he may have never paid into social security, but that did not disqualify from Medicare as Mark (one commentator) noted, in error.
But, the dram show has raised a lot of issues, that won’t go away, soon.
It sure did put Ms Wyoming at center stage for 2015.
http://www.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/part-b-costs/part-b-costs.html Part B Costs based upon income which also plays into Part D
this is what you believe. i carefully avoided disagreeing with it because i see no advantage in arguing with you.
to put it simply i personally don’t “know.” I was pointing out that Beverly was disagreeing with that earlier post (by Maggie?).
I think it is clear that insurance companies collect the money that pays the providers and they profit from the fact that those provider costs are high: Three percent of a very large number is a very large number. Also the insurance companies are famous for refusing payment and for denying coverage.
The point of single payer was that if “we are all in this together” the risk would be shared and no one would be denied coverage. That introduces other problems: the extent to which “all of us” are willing to pay for the coverage of “others.”
I don’t claim that making all of Medicare “worker paid” would reduce costs… though it should. I merely point out that we… workers… CAN pay for it all for a reasonable amount of money. A lot of money, but still reasonable as insurance against very high costs of medical care.
And I think that is better than calling for “the rich” to pay for it all.
Or letting the insurance-provider system we have now… with Obamacare… and with Maggies competition among those noble insurance companies… keep Americans paying twice what people pay in civilized countries.
I did suggest a way to keep “competition” in the system. Keeping Congress honest is another problem, one I hoped democracy might be able to solve, but I have to admit that when I look at “the people” I don’t think we are up to the job.
I should make clear I think the politics of “worker pays” would work out better for workers than “make the rich pay.” I also think it is better mental hygiene.
I am also well aware that what I think about this will not change anyone else’s mind.
If you haven’t paid into Medicare for at least thirty quarters you are not eligible for free Part A. You can buy in for a premium of $426 per month. Part B premiums start at $104 and are adjusted based on income.
I never suggested that “everyone on Medicare” “pay the other 47%.”
I did suggest that the Mediare tax could be increased from 1.9% (?) to about 4% without changing anyone’s lifestyle and that would pay for the “rest of Medicare” that you and Maggie says is paid for with borrowed money.
It was never clear to me how you and Maggie were going to pay for Medical care. It it’s “make the rich pay” in a country that maintains a deficit, then it will be paid for with borrowed money.
I doubt you are aware of the way your comments sound to me.. a bit snarky. But I did read Maggie’s article and her many answers to me. And I never “know” anything based on the writing of any single person, however well informed she may be, or the writings of many people who “know everything” but seem to have a hard time putting it into simple, connected, sentences that I can understand.
If I approached Social Security in the same manner as you approach healthcare and not studying the issue, you would be snarky and you have been so with those who have commented on Social Security. In any case to maintain Medicare, the withholding for it would have to be increased without adding more people to it. To add more people to it would cost even more. Google some of the PPACA. There are numerous articles on it. Go back to the Healthcare section here and start reading some of the stuff I have put up along with Waldman. Go to Maggie’s Health Beat Blog and start reading.
Gentlemen, the borrowed money issue and what follows from that is a useful discussion but it begs the real question which is why our medical costs are twice those of other developed countries without ant concurrent benefit.
My brother and his wife are physicians in Canada and from what they tell me the system seems to work well enough. Those who suggest that care is rationed in other countries seem to ignore the fact that we also ration care here both through the machinations of the insurance industry and by wealth.
Our fee for service model sets up a perverse series of incentives as does the way we handle patents, the benefits of research, and vetting of new drugs and procedures. Our love affair with markets and marketing turns medical care into an exercise in conspicuous consumption, can anyone actually justify drug advertising based on rational, ethical or even utilitarian grounds.
One of the problems is that we have, generally as a society, painted ourselves into a corner where we are no longer able to discuss fundamental elements of ethics and justice. Even in the wealthiest of societies there have to be mechanisms in place to select effective treatments while rejecting excesses that have marginal results and are pushed more as a means of generating revenue than as useful treatment. Our penchant for consumption has created a case of societal Munchhausen’s.
Until and unless we address the fact that we have lost any sense of common purpose, that we have lost a balance between community and the individual and in doing so have created conditions of alienation that bring us closer to a Hobbesian world of contention, a world where the few do fabulously well by dividing the many and pitting them against each other, we will fail miserably at solving questions like providing basic healthcare to our population at a reasonable cost.
The answers lie not in technocratic program design but in fundamental ideas of what it means to be a citizen in a just society.
elegantly said. i agree with you.
i think there is a difference. i try very hard not to say more than i know.
it seems to me that you and Maggie offer “paid for by debt!” as kind of scare language just the way the enemies of Social Security try to panic people with (false) images of huge debts.
except that in your case, unlike the enemies of Social Security, I don’;t think you realize that you are doing it.
I of course have no way of knowing what you know. I can say that after having read a great deal of what you write here I can’t imagine that i would learn more by reading more of it.
I believe that what I have said about Social Security is mostly verifiable (arithmetic) fact. And the conclusions I draw from those facts are at least easy to follow.
But if you will have it that I am doing the same thing you are doing, there isn’t much I can say to prove otherwise. That’s why I gave up trying.
just to point out that you accuse me of writing about something i don’t know about. but you got something i said wrong, and I tried to correct the error here, and you failed to acknowledge the correction, or respond in any way way to the substance of what i was trying to say. You satisfied yourself with just telling me about my personal failings.
As for my being snarky with people who disagree with me, I try very hard not to be, and I think I only resort to something like insult after I become convinced the person is just wasting my time for his own perverse pleasure. I am thinking of Krasting and Co-Rev. If that’s what I look like to you, so be it.
Alvin was the hubby of the Congress-lady Lummis., or should it be noted her late deceased husband.
See this then:
CMS Publicly Releases Medicare Part B Payment Data – California HealthlineCMS, or google up.
The insurance companies are holding America hostage..
Lummis is really a shrill for the U S Senator for Wyo, who is a Doctor, , who wants to embow Obama, as the new policy leader in the coming U S Senate majority in 2015, the DOCs control at least 1/6th of the U S Economy, they won’t rest until they drive that up to 1/4th, to drive federal funds into their greedy lil coffers, playing the rest of America as suckers.
Now, a good friend of Lummis and her ex husband admit the Lummis ruse for Fox news was an outrageous lie. See Dec 16, 2014 piece by Kerry Drake in WYOFILE, a digital press from WYO.(GOOGLE ON UP_)
Kind of shocking that Friends of Lummis are confessing that she just used her husband’s death as a ruse for some cheap political gain.
The sell out of her constituents in Wyoming must make voters wonder, how in hell did this person ever get elected, it is truly a shocking scandal emerging , all the other dicey things coming to light on this con woman, who tries to game America with cheap political stunts.