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James Fallows -Undoing Medicare: The Real 'Death Tax'

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cal04 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-16-11 08:30 PM
Original message
James Fallows -Undoing Medicare: The Real 'Death Tax'
http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/04/undoing-medicare-the-real-death-tax/237438/

(snip)
Controlling the open-endedness of medical spending is of course a major public and private challenge. To repeat: "bending the curve" of health-care expenses is absolutely necessary. But until recently it had been taken as settled wisdom, on both policy and political grounds, that insuring people against the risk of complete financial ruin from late-in-life medical expenses left everyone better off. Old people, their families, doctors and the medical system too. Our health care system is out-of-control and unsustainable in countless ways. But very rarely has anyone argued that removing universal coverage for older people would make things better rather than worse.

That's the understanding being challenged by Rep. Paul Ryan's "serious" budget plan. I've been trying to find the way to convey what it would mean to go back to the pre-Medicare era in which each family had to prepare for unknowably large late-in-life expenses. Merrill Goozner, on his GoozNews site, has just now put it in the way I was looking for. He writes (emphasis added):
(http://gooznews.com/)

Here's the real argument young and middle-aged people need to hear, and the real reason why the "more skin in the game" argument can never work for seniors or other vulnerable populations, including them when they reach that age. Seniors and the poor account for over half of health care spending. Within those groups, 5 percent of the population accounts for 50 percent of health care costs; and 20 percent of the population accounts for about 80 percent. These costs come for the most part at times when economic incentives have no influence at all on medical decision-making: in medical crises; in treating chronic conditions; and, for most Medicare patients, in the last six months of life.

That's why a voucher program for Medicare, which will shift an increasing share of those inevitable costs onto the elderly themselves, can fairly be categorized as a 100 percent estate tax or death tax. People under 55 need to know that if the plan crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan were passed, most of them will never have a cent to leave to their children. It will all go to the health care industry to support the American way of dying.



more at link
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northoftheborder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-16-11 08:40 PM
Response to Original message
1. That is unfortunately true.
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opihimoimoi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-16-11 08:55 PM
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2. Why do GOPers Hate the POOR???
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Mister Ed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-16-11 08:58 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. GOPers LOVE the poor!
Edited on Sat Apr-16-11 09:02 PM by Mister Ed
They must love the poor. Why else would they work so hard to make more, and more, and more of them?
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opihimoimoi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-16-11 09:03 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Now that is a viable perception.....I can agree :o)
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MH1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-16-11 09:46 PM
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5. K & R
people need to understand this.
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anneboleyn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-16-11 10:03 PM
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6. Fantastic post. True, and just evil. It is certain to wipe out the life savings of millions
Millions of people will lose their homes and life savings (as well as be forced into bankruptcy) as they try to pay -- desperately -- for the medical expenses they will incur as they age. These expenses are nearly inevitable given the ridiculous 15k cap a year for seniors proposed by the Ryan "plan" and the exceptionally high cost of doctor visits, medical imaging, treatment for any disease, hospital stays, and medications. And if the republicans have their way, the middle class will continue to be destroyed.
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