Monday, February 23, 2009

Health Reform: The Cure for Medicare and the Economy

Today's national budget summit proposes to address a wide range of economic issues. The Peterson Institute and others have tried to use the crisis to shoehorn in tired proposals to privatize Social Security and Medicare, and cut back on benefits. While public outrage has derailed unfounded attacks on Social Security, the vital Medicare program faces budget problems. The solution for Medicare is universal coverage for affordable, appropriate health care.


There is no real funding problem with Social Security. Public outrage is slowing down initial attacks on Social Security.

Medicare, however, does face a budget crunch. This vital federal program provides critical coverage for 45 million people. While it controls costs better than any private sector health insurance plan, it is subject to pressures from our fragmented, inflationary, irrational health care system. In addition, Bush-era policies intended to privatize and defund Medicare have taken a toll.

Congress and the Obama Administration have already taken some important intermediate steps, by reversing some of the Bush-era programs. They have pledged to reduce over-payments to private, competing plans, that now receive 13% more funds than traditional, public Medicare. They waived an automatic trigger that would have mandated budget cuts. Newly authorized comparative effectiveness studies will help guide health care providers toward the best medical care practices, rather than those that bump up income for the medical industrial complex.

The Peterson Institute and allies have no real solution, except that government should "spend less" on the program: that means cutting benefits, and shifting costs to individuals. That approach lost the election in November, and is obsolete in the face of the economic crash.

The way to assure that the Medicare program we depend on survives is to do what every other country has done: use the authority of the government to assure that everyone has coverage for health care, and that the payments are affordable for all of us. Universal coverage for affordable, appropriate health care is the solution for Medicare and for the economy.

See for more.

(Even the Medicare Trustees report that Medicare is solvent until 2019:

Thanks to Sid Socolar for forwarding the link below to a critique of Peterson by William Greider and the Campaign for America's Future. - Ellen Shaffer

"Irresponsible, Thy Name Is Peterson" |


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