Sunday, December 18, 2011

Medicare Reform and New York Times Editorial

Coulda, shouda, oughta

Saying of those who know how things could, should, and ought to be

December 18, 2011 - I enjoy reading New York Times’ editorials. The editorials tell you how things could, should, and ought be in opinions that are fit to print and in a world that’s fit to live in.

The editorials are predictable. They adore the Democratic party, abhor the Republican Party, and deplore anything that distracts from Big Government’s mission.

Take today’s editorial, “Working with Medicare: Reforms Could Save Hundreds of Billions of Dollars – without Scrapping the System.”

Here the operative word is "could", but the implied "should" and "ought to" are not far behind.

The editorial says:

1. It is “skeptical” that the latest Medicare proposal advanced by Paul Ryan (R- Wisconsin) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) suggesting a blend of today’s Medicare system blended with a private option of premium support would work(Anything that changes present Medicare, scheduled to go broke in 2016, is verboten).

2. Medicare insurance is superior to private insurance (even in face of the fact that Medicare is decimated by $60 billion of fraud and abuse while this is rare with private insurance).

3. Medicare “could save" $112 billion to $135 billion by deeply discounting drugs from those evil private drug companies (never mind that this might bankrupt many durg firms).

4. Medicare pays too much, much more than needed for a “reasonable profit" to provide good care” to providers and “could save" $40 billion by paying skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes less and $200 billion more by aggressively managing coordinating all care ( presumably a D.C. bureaucrat should decide what constitutes a "reasonable profit").

5. Raising the Medicare entry age from 65 to 67 “could save" $125 billion, but it’s a bad idea “only if the health reform law remains in place” (In other words, Medicare is sancrosanct and cannot be changed in any way).

6. Real costs savings “could" occur if incentives are removed from doctors to perform more tests and procedures (no mention is made of patient and malpractice pressures to do these tests and perform these procedures).

7. Medicare “could save" $30 billion with a $550 annual deductible , a 20% copay for all service, and a cap on out-of-pocket spending, but it’s a bad idea unless it would protect the poor( part of the "poor"are families of four making up to $108,000).

8. Medicare means testing for those making over $85,000 a year "could save" $50 billion in ten years and $200 billion if it rasised premiums for everybody, but “that seems risky” ( What"risky" means is not explained).

9. The real solution is the reform law “that makes a start by reducing doctor pay and pay for Medicare Advantage Plans , that “could save" $400 billion and even more if followed by pilot projects promising to reduce Medicare costs even more ( If only those greedy doctors and Medicare consumers desiring options would play ball, all would be well).

10. No matter what, “Medicare still works better than most private plans and offers the best hope for promoting wider reforms"(translated: the New York Times believes the health reform law and Medicare should be left alone, even if headed towards bankruptcy. In time, 10 years, it believes the new law will cut costs , preserve, and improve the health system).

Tweet: The New York Times, in a predictable editorial, says Medicare could, should,and ught to save Medicare by saving billions of dollars.

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