At least they noticed

At least they noticed

There’s been scant mention of the Medicare Trustees’ recent warning that Medicare will soon derive more than 45 percent of its funds from general revenues. That warning is significant because it is meant to trigger essentially automatic cuts once the threshold is met, but most reporters have focused on the news of when the so-called Medicare trust funds will run out of money.

The New York Times ran an editorial on the topic today (Medicare’s Shrinking Options). They’re not happy about the 45 percent cap:

[T]he cap on general revenues, generated mostly by federal income taxes, removes the most progressive source of financing from further consideration. That leaves only the regressive Medicare payroll tax, increases in premiums and co-payments, or cuts in services or payments to providers on the table.

Some critics charge that the 45 percent threshold was imposed to rule out any attempt to scale back the president’s huge tax cuts for the wealthy and divert the money to Medicare. Intended or not, that will be the effect, and it is not one that most American voters would endorse.

They may be right about the motivations behind the cap. But here’s my beef: Why should Medicare –a non-means tested program for the elderly (and disabled)– suck up so much general revenue in the first place? I think voters will be upset when they learn that Medicare is crowding out means-tested social expenditures.

May 4, 2006

4 thoughts on “At least they noticed”

  1. I could be wrong on this, so you might want to double-check, but it was my understanding that the 45-percent cap applied to both Medicaid and Medicare expenses, since they both come out of the same pot these days.

  2. Medicare is the larger culprit, and fails the efficiency/equity test by the largest margin of all social programs currently in place.

  3. Medicare is an insurance policy that you pay for well in advance of your ever needing to utilize it. The SS tax taken out of your paycheck from the time you start working consists of both Social Security payments and Medicare payments. Medicare comprises a smaller percentage 2.9%,but it is based on your entire income. Plus when you start drawing your social security benefits, medicare insurance is taken out of your SS check each month. The majority of seniors have paid for and continue to pay for the benefits they are getting now…unfortunately the costs have risen so dramatically that medicare is going broke just like SS will go broke. It is time to rein in the costs and that means reigning in the outrageously high cost of health care, something that has happened since the hospitals and pharmaceutical companies have put profits and investor dividends well ahead of the care of the patients. Too many med errors caused by inappropriate care that require more tests and longer hospital stays paid for mostly by medicare. When was the last time a hospital paid for the extra week(s) stay for a patient and all the related tests and medications when it was their error. Why is it that the pharmaceutical companies spend more on marketing their drugs (golf trips, cruises, dinners, etc) than on R&D? Why is it that the government’s famed Part D did not require deep discounts from the pharmaceutical companies? Health care needs a complete overhaul not just for seniors on medicare but for everyone. Time to take the huge profits out and get back to taking care of the patients as first priority. Time to get rid of the waste and the mismanagement across the board.

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