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In the Medicare game, there is a budget battle in which we the people serve as mere spectators and we get to see this game being played out at its worst by our elected representatives in Congress. When we put our disgust aside, and we actually watch some of the game, it is easy to conclude that there are very few good players. Moreover, the few good players are not necessarily very good at the game of Medicare. They have a more important game on their minds.
Republicans beat the Democrats to the punch in round one of the Medicare game of 2011 with their plan to save Medicare. The Democrats, who had been the game-makers in 2009 and 2010, had chosen never to begin a Medicare game, or even a budget game for that matter. The Republican controlled House of Representatives passed a budget that seems to save Medicare but it also changes it for those 54 years of age and younger. Democrats lined up in unison opposed to the way the Republicans were playing the game and to the game itself.
Though the R-plan has attributes that Democrats have espoused in past games, because the Republicans issued the first salvo in the Medicare game, the Democrats rejected the R-plan and have tacitly withdrawn from the Medicare game. They won't tell the Republicans or the people that they are not playing in the game for obvious reasons. Their plan is to play a different game in which, if they are victorious, will also give them victory in the Medicare game, without playing in the game at all.
The new game solution, as proposed by Republicans is a voucher / coupon / premium support system that kicks in when today's 54 year olds reach 65. The plan does not touch Medicare for those already in the system and it does not touch it for those 55 and older. For a Medicare system destined to die with no action in just a bit more than ten years, so far at least, this sounds like a good plan.
For the youngsters, when it is their turn, there will be a lot of help from the new system since, for one thing, it should still exist. It just won't be the same as it was. Instead of regular Medicare, the seniors of 2022 will receive $8,000 to 20,000 of help from the government in one form or another. In this way, the people can "choose" the right insurance for their needs and have an awful lot of help in paying for it. Many of the seniors will have had lifetime annual incomes substantially less than the $8000 to $20,000, which is the amount they are to receive from the government in the new plan to help pay for their insurance. So, how can this be that bad?
Quite frankly, I don't see the problem. The existing Medicare system has no insurance per se. It pays a fee for every health service as it occurs. Thus, it is called a fee for service system instead of a premium support or voucher system as the Paul Ryan, R-plan has been labeled. What is wrong with people having good insurance so when they need it, it is there?
To allay the fears of seniors, please note that the existing Medicare system will stay as it is forever if the Democrats' "status quo" plan wins. Unfortunately, according to the Trustees, along the way to forever, sometime after ten years from now, Medicare will go bankrupt with no apparent bailout in site. Under the R-plan, for those 55 and older, Medicare will last forever and for those 54 and under, it will end as it currently exists.
Instead, for those now 54 and under, when they hit 65, for them, Medicare will become a premium support program so that these new seniors can afford the kind of insurance they have today. Again, those 55 and over today, Medicare will basically stay the same as it I now. They will see no real changes. In 2022, for the new 65-year olds, the government will pay a big part of their premium for whatever insurance they select. Seniors will pay a part and the government will pay a part. This is not new. Even today, there is no fully free ride with Medicare. As tough as it is for some, seniors must get out their wallets to participate in Medicare. The Republicans did not cause that.
Today's Medicare begins to pay for services after seniors pay their premiums, co-pays, and deductibles. There are a bunch of names for this stuff including Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B, Medicare Part C, and Medicare Part D, which is Pharmacy. There are special plans similar to the Ryan plan even today that augment Medicare. Seniors use these extensively. Popular plans in this category are known colloquially as Medi-Gap and Medicare Advantage.
So, instead of being like insurance mostly paid by the government, as in the Ryan plan, the Medicare System of today begins to pay for just about everything after you pay a wad of upfront fees. Medicare then pays a certain fee for your services to your service providers (doctors, hospitals, etc.) at a published rate whenever you need help. Doctors and hospitals and other health providers are paid like this today by Medicare. The problem with this plan is that it can only work in the future if Doctors accept new fees as set by the government, which will put them out of business.
In other words, in the current Medicare, The provider either accepts what Medicare pays or they refuse to see Medicare patients. So, instead of the Ryan plan of giving $8,000 to $20,000 premium support to seniors to buy good insurance, and then abiding by the company's deductibles, with Medicare you pay about $2,000 or more for the needed Medicare parts listed above, and then the parts pay for your services when you need them. Unfortunately, when good doctors must accept 10 cents for services that cost them a dollar, you can bet that they will no longer be practicing medicine in America. Perhaps the Democrats' "status quo' plan will solve that with high speed rail to Canada.
Instead of coming up with their own solution to save Medicare, in all of 2010, the Democrats were preoccupied with Obamacare. So, to get that going, while they had full control of all lawmaking parts of the government, they chose to steal $500 Billion from Medicare to help Obamacare pass muster. Of course if I were a hack Democrat, I would not be permitted to tell you that. The prior information is not permitted to be discussed in Democratic circles because the D-end-game is not to help the people, it is to win reelection. Seniors would not be pleased to learn that $500 billion was stolen from them. Much of the popular media helps the Democrats hide this secret fact because they absolutely hate the idea of a Republican in office.
Rather than challenge the Republican plan per se, Democrats set themselves up as defenders of the status quo. The part that Democrats are not talking about is that the status quo not only ends Medicare as we know it, Medicare goes bankrupt and shall never return. Talk about a scary scenario! Yet, the scare mongers choose scare tactics hoping to scare the hell out of advanced aged seniors who still vote. The scare is simple. The Republican plan will kill you. The Democrat plan will keep a great system. The Obama Administration�s Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a House panel that with the Ryan plan seniors would simply "die sooner." Tough words meant only to frighten, not to help understand the differences in the approaches.
According to the Medicare trustees' analysis, the status quo means the situation remains neglected until it crashes under its own weight. Such neglect promises to kill Medicare dead in just a little over ten more years. With no game plan to save Medicare, the Democrats have chosen instead to work on their reelections by criticizing the Republican plan. As a Democrat, I think we can do better than that but the plan I see materializing is the best plan possible for a Democrat victory: "Scare seniors into thinking that they will be left with nothing, begging on the street for aspirin and band-aids. Just say the Republicans did it and the Democrats will be reelected forever until all Democrats, such as you and I, wise up." Let's face it. Some of those frightened seniors are our relatives.
Though this is life or death for seniors, it is just a game for politicians. Democrats have already seen indications that the scare strategy is a sure winner for the reelection game. In the test run in Buffalo, there were very positive results. Seniors were convinced they should be scared and the Democrats, as the masters of deception, have assured that the Republicans are seen as the problem for trying to "change" Medicare. Life could not be better for a Democrat after the recent Buffalo NY elections, which proved that scare tactics are an effective way to win elected office. With such tactics, the Democrats are virtually assured of winning the only game that counts, reelection in 2012.
To net out all of the talk above, the scenario starts with the Republicans beginning to play ball with the people on Medicare, hoping the Democrats would join in. The Democrats are so concerned that the public will begin to like the Medicare Game and the Republican tactic of making Medicare viable that they denounce the R-plan and begin scaring seniors about it. Rather than enter that game in the second inning, the Democrats begin playing the reelection game instead of the Medicare game. In the first battle of the reelection game, the Democrats win and so frightening seniors is the new battle cry for 2012. Only reelection counts.
Democrats know that many seniors intrinsically distrust the Republicans, and so, with the help of the loyal media, the Democrats now look favored to a victory in the 2012 election game. By winning this game, by default, means that without even competing in the game of Medicare, the Democrats can win a decisive victory over both the Republicans and the people.
After successfully scaring seniors into ignoring the Republican plan to save Medicare, Democrats will be comfortably executing the duties of their reelected offices. It will be ten more years before Medicare collapses. With Democrats in power, the Republicans will automatically lose the Medicare game but as time goes by, the people will not be cheering. Having been burned by playing the Medicare game this time, even Republicans will no longer play the game. The undisclosed problem with the Democrat plan is that in ten years, when the can has no more road left to travel, nobody over 65 will have any paid healthcare to write home about. But, then again, there is Obamacare!