In this article John Archer says things that really scare me. To open with, he talks about reforming Medicare using the Paul Ryan plan as a start. For those of you who can’t remember, the Paul Ryan plan is the voucher program for Medicare. This is where an older person gets a check from the government that is equal to about a third of what would be needed to buy insurance over age 65. Then with this check in hand, said elder person is supposed to sweet talk some humongous insurance company into selling said elderly person a health insurance policy for what the voucher is.
Now if Archer had ever touched reality, he would know that even healthy young people can’t get a health insurance policy for what he and Ryan are proposing for a voucher amount. It may take 3 to 4 times as much and probably would cover very little. Remember, they also want to bring back the policy where pre-existing conditions are no longer covered. So, my guess is that most of the ailments of a 70 year old were probably pre-existing. This is one hell of a good deal for the insurance companies; not so much for the older folks.
And if you are young don’t think it won’t affect you. Mom and Dad or Grandma and Grandpa will have to live somewhere after they sell all their belongings to pay for crappy health insurance. Probably won’t get much either since most older folks will be selling their estates at the same time.
But there are real and simple ways to strengthen Medicare that would work quickly and would not harm the Medicare program in the least. The first one is already in the works. That is now the part of Obamacare that ends the huge gift to the insurance companies known as Medicare Advantage. This was another boondoggle from our friends at Bushco. People were allowed to pick up private insurance that was paid for by Medicare and which thus syphoned off funds for the Medicare program. This is the $716 Billion that keeps getting bandied around. There is little use for it except to make insurance companies rich.
Second is to change the Medicare drug bill to allow the administration to negotiate huge quantity drug prices with providers. This is what is done in every other first world country and is also done in the US with the Veterans Administration. Price discrepencies for the same drug bought through Medicare or the VA differ as much as 90%. A savings of 50% could probably be easily achieved. Has Archer looked into that I wonder. You may remember the arm twisting and “stop-the-clock” procedures that Republicans employed get this big, wet sloppy kiss to the pharmaceutical industry through. You may also remember that Rep Billy Townshend (R- La.) immediately quit his congressional seat to take a multi-million dollar job as a lobbyist for the - you guessed it – pharmaceutical industry.
Finally, simply lowering the age of eligibilty would bring healthier folks into the pool which would in turn lower the cost per individual due to less outlay per individual. The ultimate best outcome would be to allow everyone eligibility to Medicare, thus ending Medicare as the dumping ground for people when their medical bills get high at the end of life or on disability. As a matter of fact, raising the age of eligibility for Medicare as Archer and Ryan propose only makes the costs worse.
Archer also makes a statement that “We don’t have an issue with access to health care. An individual is sick, they can walk into a hospital and get service.” If he doesn’t know that statement is crap, then he is more out of touch than even Romney. I hope someone asks him how this works out in the real world during a debate. I am guessing his dealings with people who would be using such services is quite limited.
Let me add another that didn’t get touched on in the story, but I am sure Archer would have a problem with. That is safe abortions on demand. Let me add a corollary which is that all insurance coverages cover the cost of birth control. This prevention would lessen unwanted pregnancies and thus the demand for abortion would decrease dramatically. But the radical right wing Republicans are against both birth control and abortion.
I would like to ask Mr. Archer one other question, on behalf of my child-bearing age daughters. Why is it that simply because they are female, they can not receive a legal medical procedure if they needed it to save their lives in much of the United States? Is this what you want for your daughters, Mr. Archer?
Come November, Women will remember!