Friday, December 14, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #86 - Part 4

Means testing Medicare

Something else while we are on the topic of deceit and lies mean to harm the greater number of us. One of the proposals being kicked around to avoid the purely mythical fiscal cliff is the idea of “means testing” (or in the even more arcane version emerging recently, “income relating”) Medicare as a tradeoff for GOPpers accepting the increases in taxes on the very rich which the right wing is already conceding are going to come so why are the Dummycrats offering something in exchange which only goes to prove that yes, the Dimcrats are happy to cut Medicare, they just need a way to sell it to the public which overwhelmingly - even among a majority of Republicans - opposes any such thing.

But here is the really important thing about why the right wing would luuuv to "means test" or "income relate" Medicare. What "means testing" means is that you target benefits, payments, tax breaks, whatever, to people who fall below a certain income level while denying those same sort of benefits to people who are deemed too rich to need them.

Lots of federal benefits, both tax benefits and direct benefits, are means tested. Whether or not you get them and how much you get if you do is dependent on your income. However, for most of its life and still for the most part, Medicare is not. Once you reach age 65, if you have worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least ten years, then you’re eligible for benefits, no matter how high your income is. Medicare, that is, in insurance. You pay a premium, you get a benefit.

If you go to buy health insurance in the private market, they don't ask you how much money you make. The question is what level of coverage do you want. The benefit is based on the premium; the premium is not based on your income. If you buy life insurance, car insurance, homeowner insurance, renter insurance, travel insurance, whatever; when you go to insure your car, the agent doesn't ask for a copy of your latest income tax return. The benefit is based on paying the premium, not on having a certain income. Medicare is and has been insurance.

In 2007, a crack was opened in that foundation. Since then, the highest-income people who are enrolled in the program have to pay more for their benefits. That still only affects a very small part of the total: Only 5% of those who have Part B (which covers doctors’ office visits and outpatient care) and 3% of those enrolled in Part D (which is the prescription drug plan) pay the higher premium.

The right wing would love to expand this, would love to open that crack into a gulf. And it's not just the right wing. Dick Durbin is for expanding means testing of Medicare. Max Baucus is for it. Claire McCaskill is for it. Emanuel Cleaver, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, is for it. So is Obama - in fact, last year he proposed exactly that, presenting a plan that would raise Medicare premiums while keeping the income limits the same so that eventually 25% of those in Part B or D would be paying the higher premiums.

So what is the real problem? What is the problem with richer people paying more? Means testing Medicare fundamentally changes the nature of the program. Means testing Medicare changes it from insurance to "just another government giveaway," just more "welfare" for "the 47%" who "won't take responsibility for their lives." Means testing Medicare is just another right wing trap, just another snare the Dems will walk into with their eyes wide open, knowing full well what they are doing, knowing full well the weapon they are handing to the right wing to attack Medicare, because again, cutting the deficit is the most important thing evah because the banks must be served and whoever gets hurt as a result? Hey, what do they care about them? These people don't depend on Medicare.


No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');