Monday, May 30, 2011

The GOP's Medicare Plan Is A Real Winner . . .

     . . . or is it? On Monday August 29, 2009, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele appeared on ABC-TV's Good Morning America. In introducing the Republican National Committee's “Seniors’ Health Care Bill of Rights” (SHCBoR), Mr. Steele stated, "We should protect the seniors' ability to access health care.”
     The first item promised by the SHCBoR was, “. . . [to] protect Medicare and not cut it in the name of health care reform.” Mr. Steele claimed that the health care plan being proposed by the Democrats would cut Medicare funding by $500B. Actually the proposed savings, none of which came from cutting benefits to seniors, was $219B.
     Jump forward to April 5, 2011. The new House Republican majority introduced a budget called The Path to Prosperity. If Congress follows “the path,” current recipients and future Medicare beneficiaries age 55 and older will see no change in benefits.
     But starting in 2022, Medicare as we know it will be gone! New retirees will be enrolled in the same kind of “wonderful” health care program that members of Congress enjoy . . . almost.
     Future retirees will be able to choose a plan that works best for them from the same list of guaranteed coverage options that government employees use. The government will make payments directly to insurers for a portion of the premiums.
     Here's the catch. While the new plan and the government employees' plan may be on a par at the start, the government pays 75% of its employees' premiums regardless of how much they increase. Non-government retirees will get an increase indexed for the inflation rate.
     As we all know, the rate of increase of health care costs is much higher than the overall inflation rate. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that under The Path to Prosperity, by the year 2030 the typical 65-year-old will be paying 65% of his health care insurance premiums, while the government employee will still be paying just 25%.
     So much for SHCBoR! New retirees may be able to get the same insurance plans as government employees, but they will get nowhere near the same health care plan.
     Last Tuesday Kathy Hochul, a Democrat and an almost certain loser scored an upset victory in one of New York state's most conservative districts. Ms. Hochul's campaign focused almost entirely on the Republican Medicare proposals, which were backed by her opponent, Jane L. Corwin.
     Although both parties spent millions in the district, Republicans outspent Democrats by a 2 to 1 margin. Not surprisingly, GOP officials are busily reexamining their approach to Medicare.
******
     Ordinary usage implies that Russell was correct in saying that under certain conditions causality has some usefulness as a shorthand mechanism. It is a quick and easy way for a scientist, or anyone else, to describe an event, but it is necessary to keep in mind that causality is a creation of language ― a way of talking about the world; it is not an objective real world event. In order to avoid misunderstandings, one needs to be sure that the certain conditions underlying his shorthand mechanism are in sync with those of his listeners. This is especially true when an expert addresses laymen, e.g. when a scientist speaks to an audience of non-scientists.
     Causality – The Spirit Runs Through It.

The Spirit Runs Through It” and “There Are Only Seven Jokes” are available in paperback, or at the Kindle Store.

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