Reforming Medicare by Extending Medicare

Whether it’s Obama or Romney the Wall Street boys intend to slice up Medicare like a Big Bird. We can give up or act up.

After the November election, there will be a major effort in Congress to
pass a budget deal that will make cuts in Social Security, raise the
Medicare and Social Security eligibility age, and perhaps more ­unless we
act to stop it with a solution that is close at hand.

There is agreement from the Wall Street Journal’s David Wessel to liberal
economists Dean Baker and Paul Krugman that the pressure will be on to
reach a Simpson/Bowles type of compromise. Such a bipartisan plan would
damage our most cherished programs and excuse the dastardly deed by
asserting that the cuts are small and necessary because of the deficit.

Those who relentlessly scream at us and finance ads to persuade us that
the deficit threatens our grandchildren are obscuring the truth. The fact
is that the transfer of wealth from public funds and the rest of us to the
super rich is the real crisis. But those who have gorged themselves on
this massive transfer of wealth also seek to undermine the Medicare and
Social Security which are our grandchildren’s heritage from generations of
struggles for a better life.

The projected cuts are not minor but very harmful. Even a small decrease
in the Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment would deliver an ever
increasing downward push on benefits while corporations continue to
threaten secure pensions by turning them into lump sums that will fade
with the stock market.

Raising the Medicare age to 67 would be disastrous. There will be no
affordable health insurance for those in their 60’s. The Affordable Care
Act allows private insurance companies to charge premiums three times
higher based on age. Under popular pressure, there were regulations
placed into the health care reform bill to stop insurance companies from
charging higher premiums based on pre-existing conditions. But the
companies were allowed to charge three times the premium based on age.
Because of this allowed age discrimination, the Kaiser Foundation
estimates that an individual of age 60 in 2014 with an annual income of
$50,000 will pay a health insurance premium of over $10,000, or over 20%
of income. That does not include out-of-pocket costs which can add up to
an additional $6,000 annually. That brings the total to 32% of income ­a
bankrupting figure.

There is a solution that the single payer movement must place on the
nation’s table. Even Bill Clinton said that we could save $1 trillion a
year if we adopted the health care system of any of the other developed
countries in the world. No more stewing over the deficit!

An Expanded and Improved Medicare for All, HR 676, would save Medicare,
end the uncontrolled, gargantuan rise in all health care costs, ease the
deficit pressure, and actually bring universal health care to the nation.
This single payer legislation, HR 676, introduced by Congressman John
Conyers and co-sponsored by 76 representatives, would divert $400 billion
annually from profits and waste generated by the private health insurance
industry into care for all. Care would be expanded and costs bought under
control through bulk purchasing, global budgeting, and the elimination of
administrative expenses forced upon our system in the pursuit of profit.
Doctors would be freed from insurance industry interference with care.
Patients would be freed to choose their physicians. Dental, eyeglasses,
hearing aids, prescription drugs, long term care, doctors, hospitals, home
health, mental health, ­all medically necessary care would be included. Our
health care costs would stop driving us over the cliff and level off just
as Canada’s did when that country fully implemented their single payer
health care.

Co-pays and deductibles would be banned ending today’s growing problem
that health insurance policies are so miserly that even the insured forego
care because they can’t afford it.

Our country spends about twice per capita what other industrialized
nations spend on health care, yet our health care system lags far behind
at number 37 in the world.

So why are we even debating cuts to Medicare, Social Security, and
Medicaid when the solution is at hand that would bring us both better care
and cost controls? HR 676, an improved Medicare for All, is sitting in
the Congress, awaiting the rising of a movement that will insist upon its
passage.

Distributed by: All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care­

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