Thursday, July 30, 2015

Medicare Is Golden

Despite all the radical right-wing efforts to kill it and defund it and privatize it, Medicare has lived to celebrate its 50th birthday today. Ronald Reagan, himself a Medicare recipient in his interminable dotage, must be rolling in his grave. Ditto for chain-smoking Ayn Rand, whose lung cancer treatment was also covered by the single-payer health care program.

In honor of Medicare's 50th, I propose lowering the eligibility age to 50, thence in rapid increments of five years every single month, culminating in automatic coverage for all citizens beginning at birth. I also propose doing away with the current deductibles and co-pays in order to get the private insurance predators out of the mix entirely.

How did LBJ do it? The LBJ Presidential Library has the transcript of a White House conversation from March 1965:
LBJ: When are you going to take it up?
Mills: (Wilbur Mills, the powerful House Ways and Committee chairman) I’ve got to go to the Rules Committee next week.
LBJ: You always get your rules pretty quickly though, don’t you?
Mills: Yeah, that’s right.
LBJ: . . . For God’s sake, let’s get it before Easter! . . . They make a poll every Easter. . .You know it. On what has Congress accomplished up till then. Then the rest of the year they use that record to write editorials about. So anything that we can grind through before Easter will be twice as important as after Easter.
(Mills gets off the telephone line)
LBJ: Now, remember this. Nine out of 10 things that I get in trouble on is because they lay around. And tell the Speaker and Wilbur [Mills] to please get a rule just the moment they can.
Cohen: (Wilbur Cohen, Assistant HEW Secretary) They want to bring it up next week, Mr. President.
LBJ: Yeah, but you just tell them not to let it lay around. Do that! They want to but they might not. That gets the doctors organized. Then they get the others organized. And I damn near killed my education bill, letting it lay around.
Cohen: Yeah.
LBJ: It stinks. It’s just like a dead cat on the door. When a committee reports it, you better either bury that cat or get it some life in it . . . [to Mills as he gets back on the line:] For God’s sakes! “Don’t let dead cats stand on your porch,” Mr. Rayburn used to say. They stunk and they stunk and they stunk. When you get one out of that committee, you call that son of a bitch up before [our opponents] can get their letters written.
Ronald Reagan, remember, shilled for the American Medical Association. Reagan must stink like a dead cat by this time, as he rolls. But here he is in his happier rigor mortis days:


Bill Sprague said...

I listened to most (more than 7 minutes) of Regan's rant and found myself talking to my computer. Then I clicked it off. Both myself, and the computer. And Regan. When he got to the business about the "founding fathers" is when I just lost it. If you EARN it here then DON'T find a lawyer or tax accountant who can find you a tax loophole. Pay your fair share. Free enterprise is free enterprise. It's not a license to "avoid" paying taxes. What is it they say? Nothing's inevitable but death and taxes. Pay your fair share.

Meredith NYC said...

Karen.....Excellent idea to lower medicare age in increments, not to shock the American system too much. But wouldn’t our political culture be against a medicare system for working age people?

Yay for LBJ---very interesting transcript--- could Obama talk that way? It was one thing for LBJ to pass h/c for the elderly because they no longer have job income, but the US ideal was that working age, able bodied have the responsibility to get a job with benefits, or earn enough to buy their own insurance. To include them would be socialism and downright immoral. Might mean regulating all insurance rates—impossible.

Our basic national story of a land of meritocracy and opportunity for all, without class barriers, has been used by the 1 percent elites, and turned around to work against us. It ignores all the other barriers we have set up, which are excused away----not explicit class castes, which we rejected, rebelling from old Europe.

The US is the most backward of advanced countries, compared to formerly class ridden nations of old Europe which use their social democracy for all, not dividing people up into the deserving vs undeserving, based on age, income, employment status.

Ironically, what they taught us in school about American superiority is what blocks so many from the so called “American Dream”. If all people have an equal chance, but still fail to get h /c, or are forced into bankruptcy with medical disasters, or die or are disabled ---we will hear that it’s regrettable, but their own fault and ---a worthy price to pay for our American free capitalism! The price to pay for big govt intrusion isn’t worth it. We can’t sacrifice the profit system for those who can’t make it on their own---this is the basic message behind our decades-long h/c situation.

The insurance industry wasn’t seen as a predator, but as a good—its profits are guarantees of our free enterprise system, and protection against govt tyranny.

While our medical bankruptcies mounted up as h/c prices were allowed to soar, there were zero bankruptcies abroad—per NYT. But those foreigners are ‘dependent’ on big govt, we’ll hear, not like self reliant independent Americans.

So now, going from the atrocious to the mediocre with ACA is rationalized by mainstream liberals as to be thankful for, thus further entrenching the profit making of the medical industry.
The Republican ACA has worked as planned as a Dem program. No
party of opposition to help us to reach parity with dozens of other nations.

I just commented to Krugman’s blog that I’m still waiting to hear how all those super Austere EU govts have kept their h/c for all.

No US candidate dares push insurance predators out of the mix, and medicare for all. They can’t get corporate donations to run and will be condescended to in the NYT like Sanders is. Maybe someday.

Valerie said...

Yes, yes, yes! Medicare for all!

I am always appalled at the older citizens benefiting for Medicare, like my mother, who want to deny it to their children and grandchildren. When did that kind of selfishness become OK? I noted that Jeb was going to phase it out slowly, knowing the seniors benefiting now would raise hell if THEIR benefits were cut.

What I don't get is why small businesses aren't behind a Medicare for all scheme. On of the biggest costs to a small business - if they elect to give their employees health benefits - is the ridiculous cost of health insurance. Why wouldn't corporations like Costco and Starbucks be for it? They already pay through the nose to do the right thing? Why wouldn't my school district in Washington State? They coughed up $800 to $900 an employee to offer their staffs health care coverage. Think what they could do with all that money they would be saving? I don't get it! Why are people against this? My husband got free care in South Africa. Surely, if they can afford it, America can.

All I know is we are going in the wrong direction in Australia. Our private medical insurance supplement - that most Australians were pressured into getting - has doubled in the four years we have had it. Wait until the pharmaceutical multinational corporations get their tentacles and beaks into our benefits scheme via the TPP. Our costs will only go higher.

Well, Karen, hopefully enough people will see the light.