(Note: Martha Koester contributed much of the content of this posting.)
Lots of progressives want single-payer healthcare: Medicare for All. But if the Democrats don’t shape up and if Republicans get their way, we may soon have Medicare for None.
- March 2011: House Republicans vote to replace Medicare with coupons that give you a discount on the same kind of inadequate insurance that seniors could not afford before Medicare was enacted.
- September 2011: Paul Ryan walks the coupon proposal back to a “voluntary” program, which would destroy Medicare more slowly by segregating the sickest seniors in traditional Medicare. This
proposal is then endorsed by all Republican presidential candidates.
- March 2012: Republican Senator Jim DeMint and other congressional Republicans propose eliminating Medicare entirely in 2014. If seniors can’t afford private insurance after partial government subsidy, they can apply for Medicaid, which Republican state governments have vowed to slash.
- April 2012: House Republicans pass a budget eliminating all Medicaid funding for seniors in nursing homes, 70% of whom rely entirely on Medicaid.
Republican Congressman Eric Cantor on NPR (discussing Social Security and Medicare) said “We’ve got to protect today’s seniors. But for the rest of us? We’re going to have to come to grips with the fact that these programs cannot exist if we want America to be what we want America to be.”
The attack on Medicare extends to the states. Republican candidate for governor of Washington State Rob McKenna told the UW Young Republicans that it was “unfortunate” that Americans overwhelmingly oppose Medicare changes proposed by Representative Paul Ryan passed nearly unanimously by the House Republicans in 2011.
Other dangerous proposals include raising the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 70. This will just force people aged 50-64 who can’t afford expensive age-rated insurance to wait longer. These people even now spend much more money on health care after they become Medicare eligible. In other words, people wait to get care until their Medicare kicks in. This is bad both for health and for the federal government’s bottom line. Knowing that raising the age of eligibility will likely cost Medicare more means that implementing this policy will cost more and lead to worse outcomes. That’s the worst of both worlds.
Unfortunately, the Democratic leadership in D.C. has been all too willing to compromise with Republicans on fiscal issues.
Two progressive organizations have found themselves in the unusual position of being on the opposite side of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Over the course of the past two years, the former House Speaker has been the most significant obstacle to the ongoing effort to slash entitlements and cut social spending.
But a series of recent comments, and reports that Pelosi was willing to accept draconian cuts as part of a debt-ceiling deal, have liberals worried that their most powerful and passionate defender may be buckling on the issue.
So-called conservatives are succeeding in their plan to bankrupt government and undo the New Deal. Most Democrats and even most Americans disagree with the conservative agenda, but President Obama and the Democratic leadership are both complicit and ineffectual at stopping them. And as Chris Hedges points out, the Liberal Class is too corrupted and weakened to prevent the onslaught.