Wednesday, June 08, 2011

What Cathy McMorris Rodgers would like to do to her constituents...

The budget passed by House Republicans in April 2011 makes radical changes to Medicare. The Republican plan raises costs for seniors and individuals with disabilities enrolled in Medicare, reduces their benefits, and puts private insurance companies in charge of the program. For current beneficiaries, important benefits – such as closing the hole in Medicare’s drug coverage – would be immediately eliminated. For individuals age 54 and under, Medicare’s guarantee of comprehensive coverage would be replaced with a “voucher” or “premium support” to buy private health insurance. By design, this federal contribution does not keep pace with medical costs, shifting thousands of dollars in costs onto the individual.

This analysis shows the immediate and long-term impacts of these changes in the 5th Congressional District in Washington, which is represented by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

The Republican proposal would have adverse impacts on seniors and disabled individuals in the district who are currently enrolled in Medicare. It would:

• Increase prescription drug costs for 7,100 Medicare beneficiaries in the district who enter the Part D donut hole, forcing them to pay an extra $70 million for drugs over the next decade.
• Eliminate new preventive care benefits for 117,000 Medicare beneficiaries in the district. The Republican proposal would have even greater impacts on individuals in the district age 54 and
younger who are not currently enrolled in Medicare. It would:

• Deny 530,000 individuals age 54 and younger in the district access to Medicare’s guaranteed benefits.
• Increase the out-of-pocket costs of health coverage by over $6,000 per year in 2022 and by almost $12,000 per year in 2032 for the 110,000 individuals in the district who are between the ages of 44 and 54.
• Require the 110,000 individuals in the district between the ages of 44 and 54 to save an additional $25.7 billion for their retirement – an average of $182,000 to $287,000 per individual – to pay for the increased cost of health coverage over their lifetimes. Younger residents of the district will have to save even higher amounts to cover their additional medical costs.
• Raise the Medicare eligibility age by at least one year to age 66 or more for 58,000 individuals in the district who are age 44 to 49 and by two years to age 67 for 418,000 individuals in the district who are age 43 or younger.

Data sources: Data on Medicare enrollment and the number of seniors in the Part D donut hole was obtained from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Data on the age distribution of district residents was obtained from the U.S. Census. Data on increased costs for Medicare enrollees under the Republican plan was obtained from the Congressional Budget Office and the Medicare Actuary and the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Data on increased savings needed to pay for health care costs under the Republican budget was obtained from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR and are based on CEPR analysis of CBO data

From Impacts of the Republican Medicare Plan In Washington’s 5th Congressional District Committee on Energy and Commerce, Democratic Staff


Spokane Al said...

At least that this the perspective of the Democratic Staff who crafted your source document.

Anonymous said...

The problem is there are too many people retiring (boomers), our average life span is increasing, (people are living with more severe illness longer-->$$$ for health care maintenance), and new (better?) medical treatments are always being developed. We need rationing of care. We need to keep people on generic medication only. $200/mo for blood pressure medicine is wasteful for society. If an individual wants to pay for it, fine, but we need to reign in costs for society. We also need to prevent the 2 month ICU stay at the end of life costing millions of dollars. If anyone with half a "non-political" brain had a hand in government's takeover of medicine this could be fixed. As it is, politicians will never support rationing, or telling you mom can't be kept alive with tubes and machines if that's what you want. It is political suicide.

So what's the solution...argument for term limits, etc etc so politicians can do good work without worrying about being reelected. Or push cost onto patient's so they can become more responsible consumers (it's a lot easier to care about how much medical service you're using when you pay some of the bill). Is it perfect, no.

Not said...

Weren't the Republicans telling us last year that the Democrats were going to take away Medicare? But in fact, it's the Republicans taking away Medicare. Lucky for them voters seem to have very poor memory.
- Ventura

EvilElf said...

True that is published by the Dems. Also true, the info comes from the CBO (nonpartisan).

I think that Medicare and Social Security will be in a shortfall if changes aren't made. However, right now these programs are fully funded. And they are funded via direct tax withholding on just about everyone's paychecks (not mine. I don't get SS).

So, it is disingenuous when talk turns to our deficit to talk about "fixing" Medicare as a response to the current deficit.

Defense spending (we spend more than the rest of the world combined) is the driver of the deficit.

Imagine if, on your paycheck, the withholding items, not only included Federal Income Tax, Social Security, Medicare, but also The Dept of Defense. Kind of a good idea. We would have no deficit if we made defense spending a discretionary fund like the others. However, there wouldn't be much to take home in your paycheck.

Medicare and Social Security need adjustments. But the bigger problem is the deficit.

Hank Greer said...

Medicare would be sustainable if it learned to say no. Medicare approves practically every medical procedure and it doesn't need to. Medicare should be able to negotiate drug prices, but Congress won't let it. There'd be a huge savings there. Also, raising taxes should be part of the solution.

If Medicare becomes a voucher system then seniors will be forced to use their Social Security to help cover medical costs.

Speaking of Social Security. Raising the ceiling of taxable wages so that 90% of wages are covered--as they were back in 1983 the last time Social Security was "fixed"--instead of the current 84% will ensure Social Security can pay 100% of benefits beyond 2037.

These are simple simple solutions our Congress won't even consider. Instead, they bleat lower taxes and less government as a panacea for all ills.

We live in interesting times.

EvilElf said...

Hank, It is frustrating that the jury came back about 50 years ago on the best way to provide the best medical care for the least amount of money.

There is no controversy in any nation to this solution, except here in the land of the easily flimflammed.