Friday, February 19, 2010

GOP Hostility To Medicare

From a column by Joe Conason:
Unfortunately for Republicans like Ryan, there are at least two essential flaws in their plan to privatize Medicare. The first is that Medicare -- that government-run experiment, now almost 45 years old -- remains exceptionally popular across all income, ideological, geographical and age groups. It is especially popular when compared with private insurers, beating them on measures of customer satisfaction, security and trust by 20 percentage points or more.

The second flaw is that Medicare -- that costly, budget-busting entitlement -- continues to exceed private-sector providers in efficiency by well over 10 percent. Only with lavish subsidies have the so-called Medicare Advantage private plans been able to compete for customers. And many elderly consumers have returned to traditional Medicare because the private insurers dropped their coverage when they actually became ill.
Matters of religion aside, a free market simply fails to address certain kinds of problems... and the provision of healthcare is one of them. It's time the market ideologues ceased their plaintive howling, cries of "socialism," whatever: the market does not work in situations in which a consumer has no choice about whether to use a service, but a provider has nearly unlimited discretion about whether to actually provide what it has been paid for. If you think otherwise, read Jason Leopold about the Anthem 39 percent rate hike and their apparent deliberate deception of authorities, now being revealed by Henry Waxman. Yeah, step right up; we got yer free market right here.

Medicare has become wildly popular in its 45 years (consider the infamous tea-bagger's placard reading, "Keep government's hands off Medicare," or something similar), and could be extended into the future and to the whole population, probably for a cost not exceeding that of pursuing an illegal war against a small oil-rich country. But that would spite all of the GOP's customers, um, I mean, base: insurers, large medical institutions, defense contractors and yes, even oil companies. So even if the need grows past urgent to critical, the attempt to kill rather than extend Medicare will continue. There is no stupidity like the stupidity induced by greed.


  1. You can't have a "free market" unless both sides, buyers and sellers, can negotiate and there is actual competition.

    The corporation is already an anti-capitalistic fiction, so the whole thing is a fraud.

    All of the risk is being pushed on the buyers, so the market isn't free.

  2. I didn't realize the private insurers dropped the medicare people when they became ill. That's pretty disgusting.

  3. "There is no stupidity like the stupidity induced by greed." So true....mediocrity is always at its best!



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