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Q: Will health care reform help or hurt senior citizens?

The Debaters
printable version
John Rother
Executive Vice President, AARP
Jim Martin
President, 60 Plus Association

John Rother: It's time to cut through the myths and scare tactics that are distracting the country from a civil debate about how best to reform our broken health care system. The fact is, older Americans use more health services than any other age group, and they are among those with the most to gain from reforms that improve quality and lower costs. For our members in Medicare, we're fighting for improvements that will lower prescription drug costs, maintain access to their doctors and improve the quality of their care.

For those age 50 to 64 without employer sponsored coverage—who often find themselves in the health insurance "no man's land"—health reform will guarantee they can get an insurance policy even if they have a pre-existing health condition or lose their job, and it will ensure they won't be priced out of the market just because of their age.

Jim Martin: Seniors will benefit from the right kind of health care reform that protects and enhances the Medicare system they have paid into most of their lives, and expands options and encourages new doctors and nurses into the medical profession.

Unfortunately the reform currently being proposed is devastating to the health care of most seniors in our country, and is about as helpful as placing the steps to the Philadelphia Art Museum in front of their doctors' office.

President Obama has proposed adding tens of millions of new people to a government health care plan, while cutting Medicare by over $500 billion. Meanwhile no new doctors will be added. It is clear that as government obligations grow and resources shrink, seniors will be most harmed.

Seniors are an especially informed group. Polls by Kaiser and Pew show fewer than 30 percent of seniors support health care reform. They ought to be listened to.

John Rother: AARP shares Mr. Martin's belief that health care reform should ensure older Americans have the health care they need. That's why we're fighting for reforms that protect the Medicare benefits people have earned and preserve their choice of doctor.

To protect Medicare for current and future generations, AARP is also fighting to save Medicare money, such as stopping billions in excess subsidies to private insurance companies—which cost tax dollars and drive up Medicare premiums. We also need to lower drug prices and root out waste in Medicare to save money and lower costs for older Americans. Much of the savings in Medicare will be used to pay doctors fairly, so we can ensure every senior has a choice of doctor and that all medical decisions are between the patient and his or her doctor. Finally, AARP is pushing to improve Medicare by adding better drug coverage and preventive care.

Jim Martin: One would think that a group claiming to fight for seniors would be up in arms over $500 billion in cuts to Medicare, but amazingly AARP completely ignores this fact. Reform of the current system means adding tens of millions of new people, which means seniors have the most to lose with health care reform, not gain. AARP offers no outside sources for its listed "myths" so allow me to add one. This is from the Aug. 20 edition of the New York Times: "Bills now in Congress would squeeze savings out of Medicare, a lifeline for the elderly, on the assumption that doctors and hospitals can be more efficient."

Simply put, seniors are trading a "sure thing"—$500 billion in cuts, for an assumption that government can be more efficient. Both common sense and the government's track record on "efficiency" say not to take that bet.

John Rother: Twice now, Mr. Martin has falsely noted that covering more Americans would hurt those with coverage. What he doesn't say is today's 46 million uninsured Americans already get care, they just get it in the most expensive ways—like ER visits—and taxpayers foot the bill.

Mr. Martin goes on to promote continuing to waste billions of tax dollars on fraud and excess insurance company profits, rather than strengthening Medicare and making it more affordable.

When he calls Medicare a "sure thing," he fails to realize that the skyrocketing costs of health care will soon make it anything but a safe bet. That's why we're fighting for reforms that will lower costs to beneficiaries as well as the program, increase quality and target waste.

If Mr. Martin wants seniors to gamble, he should take them to Vegas—but health care is too important to continue with the status quo.

Jim Martin: Mr. Rother correctly points out that seniors receive the bulk of health care services, which means that they have the most to lose—not gain—from reform that cuts resources while adding tens of millions of new participants.

Many promises sound good, but Washington historically under-delivers for health care services. Their record on efficiency is atrocious. If eliminating waste, fraud and abuse will "save" Medicare as they claim, then why don't they eliminate the waste NOW? I believe this question answers itself.

The two groups most opposed to health care overhaul are doctors and seniors, who also happen to be the most informed and invested in health care in America. I am dumbfounded as to why AARP chooses to believe Washington over the wisdom and experience of doctors and AARP's own constituency.



Health Care Reform Debates

Should the Rich Pay More?

Will There Be Rationing?

Can It Reduce Costs?



Who Won the Debate?



Viewer Comments

Commenter: Lisa
Unfortunately I renewed my AARP Membership just weeks ago. I am vehemently opposed to the new Health Care Bill. I strongly believe that it is not in the best interest of Seniors! I am a 64 yr.old, disabled woman. I assigned my Soc. Sec. Disability benefit to a wonderful Sr. Advantage HMO & I for one, do not want it tampered with. I am quite happy with the Plan, as is. If AARP doesn't re-think their position I will not be renewing with them in the future. Furthermore, many of my friends will do the same.
WHERE ARE ALL THE VOICES OF THE MILLIONS OF SENIOR CITIZEN'S WHO WILL BE HARMED BY THE NEW BILL???
PLEASE SHOUT OUT TO AARP, THE PRESIDENT, THE SENATE AND ALL YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES! LET THEM KNOW THAT WE'RE HERE, WE HEAR & WE VOTE. OUR FAMILIES & FRIENDS DO TOO. THANK YOU.


Commenter: Carol Jennings
I know we need reform, but do the Senior Citizens have to bear most all of the burden. Where are our Representativives that we voted for. Are they looking the other way, or just ignoring all seniors. Can't anyone publish this Health Care Reform on the internet so the doctors and citizens can see exactly what is in it.
My doctor's said they have no idea.
I am so upset, I get a headache everyday.
I am begining to believe all these letters taht say the President and the politicans are trying to "Kill off all Senior Citizens".


Commenter: Melissa Gills
I don't understand why our government is doing this to us. I read about government health care in Canada where a woman had to come to the U.S. for her treatment for her brain tumor. Her government told her to wait in line. She would have died by her next appointment.
Her life was spared by going to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona.
Does our government want all people over 60 to go ahead and die????

I have e-mailed our government, state and fed. levels and they ignored my plea to stop it. WE need to find a way to stop this bill or else we will loose everything else that our country use to stand for. I feel our country is slipping away.


Commenter: jerry roach
The doughnut hole in medicare just hit me hard personally, I am 66 years old with health issues that have worsened because I face over 4000 dollars in out of pocket drug costs this year.

The consequences of not taking my medications is now out weighed by my not being able to pay for my medications.

I will most likely not live to see 2119, when the hole is finally closed.

It is true we all have to die sooner or later including politicians.


Commenter: linda lawrence
I AM TOTALLY DISAPPOINTED IN THE HOUSE AND SENATE. AND I DO NOT LIKE DEMOCRATS. I AM TRIED OF THEM TRYING TO HURT SENIORS, ESPECIALLY THOSE ON SS ONLY.
AND TRYING TO DO AWAY WITH MEDICARE ADVANTAGE REALLY GETS ME UPSET. PEOPLE ON FIXED INCOMES, LIKE MYSELF, NEED THE ADVANTAGE PLANS. REFORMS, OK, BUT STOP TRYING TO "KILL SENIORS."


Commenter: Warren Daniels Buffalo, NY
We need reform. Corporate America cares nothing about us. Just two days ago Aetna announced that they were cutting Thousands of people from their plans and raising premiums. What we truly need is medicare for all. It is our responsibility to take care of each other. I am willing to pay a little extra in taxes to help have 100% coverage for everyone. My Daughter didn't ask for muscular dystrophy. Private insurance doesn't want her. Like this weeks now program I too had to choose to have lower income because of her pre-existing condition. As far as seniors are concerned we have a responsibility to care for them as they cared for us when we were young. A Single Payer health care system should be the goal for our health care system.


Commenter: Warren Daniels
We need reform. Corporate America cares nothing about us. Just two days ago Aetna announced that they were cutting Thousands of people from their plans and raising premiums. What we truly need is medicare for all. It is our responsibility to take care of each other. I am willing to pay a little extra in taxes to help have 100% coverage for everyone. My Daughter didn't ask for muscular dystrophy. Private insurance doesn't want her. Like this weeks now program I too had to choose to have lower income because of her pre-existing condition. As far as seniors are concerned we have a responsibility to care for them as they cared for us when we were young. A Single Payer health care system should be the goal for our health care system.


Commenter: norma brown
leave the senior along we need it more than you can i know alot of people over 65 are really need their health insurance we dcan,t help if we are in bad health we didn,t ask for it. what are we suppose to do just die and leave it to the young people think about it please help us


Commenter: Ruby Shurden
Will medicare reform have a cap on out of pocket expense for seniors?


Commenter: DOROTHY CRUMP
GOOD MORNING WHAT WILL THE HEALTH REFORM INCLUDE ON ADULT DENTAL BENEFITS OUR TEETH ARE VERY IMPORTANT TO OUR HEALTH.THE DISEASE FROM OUR TEETH CAUSES HEART ATTACKS AND STROKES.THANKS


Commenter: Janet Seeley
I believe in honest debate. Perhaps disclosure of funds provided by drug companies and insurance related industries to every spokesperson should be disclosed. There is no mention of the non-negotiable Rx contracts with Medicare provided by the Bush administration. There is also no mention of the incentives for compensation to doctors for patients they don't see that is part of the agreements they sign in order to participate in insurance company networks. There is also no mention of the reimbursements from the drug companies to insurance companies when they provide "incentives" to use certain Rx drugs which is particularly strange because part of the insurance licensing requires that no gift over $5 is allowed. But it seems that calling the reimbursements "incentives" instead of "pay-offs" is acceptable. There are many ways to cut costs that will not or should not deter treatment to any of us. When will our representatives truly represent us instead of the lobyists. And, when will the fear mongers stop their shameful tactics. Hasn't the greed gone far enough? I vote for integrity and honesty.
Thank you.


Commenter: mike mathwig
I'm 61. I've wathed you people turn your lives and minds over to Corporate America all that time. Now you want the same even though, at your ages, you still havn't had enough!?

Having courage to change is more important than lives of ease. Your voting records should have taught you that by now.


Commenter: sandra huss
AARP is making a huge blunder here. Time to out the leaders and get some reform. We need intelligent, conservative guides who understand that our present government is NOT going to "improve quality and lower costs," but to do exactly what they did by allowing HMO nonsense: decreased quality and MUCH greater costs than prior to that bureaucratic idiocy.


Commenter: Bill Winters
AARP is a lapdog for Obamacare, but what else would you expect from an organization that hired a major financial supporter of Obama as its CEO. In order for AARP to regain some level of credibility as a politically neutral organization, it should fire A. Barry Rand.


Commenter: Richard Nelson
The health care plan is really the begining of the end for seniors and medicare. When it comes to law makers in the House or Senate go see them or their offices in person. Have a firm but repectful conversation.

The real danger with the legislation is it will not really come into effect for a few years. Then like a house of card it will come tumbling down on all of us or our children.

We need to plan beyond our life times and as we are allowing our great nation to sink. My parents born in 1915 and 1918 were part of the greatest generation they survived the depression and WW2. They gave us the best, we pulled out of Korea, lost a brother in law there, threw in the towel in Viet Niam, my brother and I both were part of the ground units.

Sorry my spelling in not what it was in the past same with grammar.

Dick Nelson
Cheyenne, WY


Commenter: Toni
I have written my congressman, my senators. They don't care. They don't even respond. What's the next step? How do we stop this misguided avalanche of idiocy that calls itself healthcare reform?


Commenter: Robert Wilson
We need for everyone to get the hell out of AARP. This organization has yet to help anyone that I know of. Let's get with 60 Plus. We need someone that works for us. Tell all your friends. Get our membership up, and let the fight begain.


Commenter: John D Daugherty
We need government reform, not health care reform.

In the health care arena we need to reward those that have healthy live styles (non smokers, exercisers, moderate drinkers and healthy activities) with lower premiums. We need to be able to buy insurance wherever it is sold. We need to be able to sign an agreement with our doctors that we won't sue them for mal practice if we trust their ability. We need more nurse practicianers to treat the bulk of illness in this country.


Commenter: Francis
I am so over all of this drama and b/s. It seems to be never ending and no one seems to care about the people this is all effecting. Who can we trust now? Our government is spending us into the ground FAST and they want to turn our health care into a socialistic event. Well no thank you! Don't make something new, fix what we've got!

Thankfully I've got friends who have referred me to someone I can trust. I only wish everyone had the same. Maybe you don't.. so here's my contribution to society (while it still stands) www.nationalmedicareservicecenter.com/


Commenter: Jim Carter
I read in one of AARP's periodicals that they receive between $300 and $400 million from insurance companies in order to use their name on insurance products. If the insurance industry is so bad, why is ARRP taking their money and lending their name to these insurance products?

Secondly, it is beyond reason to believe that the Federal Government can cut Medicare by $500 million and still provide the same coverage and participation by medical personnel. AARP has sold out it constituency for personal power and access.


Commenter: Robert B. Keiser
Our family physician has already told us that if the proposed health care bill passes, that she will no longer be able to sustain her practice, and will go out of business. She is a marvelous, caring physicain, and there are many more who face the same decision.


Commenter: Madeline Bentivegna
It always amazes me when I hear the Democrats and AARP defending their proposed healthcare agenda. Isn't it just common sense that somebody is going to have to pay for this? Is the money going to fall from the SKY??? What is wrong with people? WAKE UP!


Commenter: Liz
If this so much a GOOD dail than the goverment should go on this plan for ONE year, if works for them then, WE should be added to it also.
We pay them to work for us, this is part of their job to make sure that WE the people are taken care of with no harm coming to us.
If we worked for them WE would do the same for them.
WE have LOST the idea of who is working for whom.
Now lets get it together the RIGHT way, THEY WORK FOR US, NOT US FOR THEM.
If they don't do right by us, THEN GET THEM OUT OF OFFICE the next time they are up for election again.
We the people have let this go on for to long, now it has to stop because all this is going to effect our GRAND CHILDREN on down for the rest of their life, we owe them MORE then that.


Commenter: James Urquhart
Fraud and inefficiencies in Medicare should be addressed immediately, and the savings redirected to maintaining Medicare. This effort should be separate from changes in laws to addressed those currently uninsured. In addition to care now given the uninsured in emergency rooms, reform laws would provide routine annual care to millions more, reducing the availability of those services to seniors. It is true that seniors will receive reduced services once the currently proposed changes are enacted. While preventive checks and care do benefit an individual, they do not reduce overall medical costs. As expenditures would be made for millions of young, healthy people with very little probability of actually having an ailment, the cost of insuring those currently uninsured would raise, not lower the cost of health care for those people. We need incremental changes: lawsuit controls, personal tax deduction for health care, more interstate competition between health insurance providers, and portability of policies when changing jobs (to eliminate preexisting condition restrictions). Push for these incremental changes and add additional incremental changes once the success of the first have been shown.


Commenter: Arthur Bartol
I would prefer to sacrifice a little bit now if Congress will attempt to balance the Budget, take themselves off their arrogant attitudes, place themselves on the same Health Plan that they pass! When will they wake up? I am so sick and tired of politicians who take care of there own benifits before looking out for us. Stop the lobbyests as Obama said in his campaign rhetoric.


Commenter: sonny werne
Our greatest problem in america is ignorance of the truth. This health care bill is simply a big goverment LIE.The congress does not won't it for themselves.


Commenter: Vickie
If you don't agree with an insurance company decision, you can go "above" their heads. Under a government plan, if you don't like their decision, tough luck. The first scenario happened to me in 1991 after a brain aneursym. Today I am living a normal productive life rather than being put into the nursing home wing of the hospital.


Commenter: joeyb
I quit AARP


Commenter: Chuck Chambers
AARP certainly is not following what it's members want in this matter,but acting more like a bananna republic dictator to them. You can bet this will be my last year as an AARP member. Not only does AARP support gun control but now they take benefits away from senior's as well. This health plan is a rotten ill thought out mess.

I might add, it was concieved behind closed door's and show's us just what Obama mean's by transparent government.


Commenter: Thaddeus Pluta
This proposed health care reform bill is a government redistribution of health care benefits from the elderly to the indigent and illegal immigrant population. Not only does it disenfranchise Medicare recipients on fixed incomes during recession/depression but it will add to a huge national deficit.


Commenter: Clarence Lippert
I am a member of AARP ONLY because I subscribe to their Medicare insurance supplement. I remain pleased with the insurance, but I am actively seeking an alternative insurance company.

AARP has been on the left side for a long time. This time they jumped off the left edge.


Commenter: Mark
I would rather support a greedy insurance company than a greedy administration such as this one. The insurance companies have to compete at least to some degree. The government will competes with no one. Government programs are a black hole in every sense.


Commenter: Concerned Texan
I trust no one in Washington, least of all the far left that is snowballing the American people with their lies of hope and prosperity. We know health reform and Cap and Trade will lead us to ruin. We cannot afford the taxation that will follow the passing of health reform and Cap and Trade.


Commenter: Barbara E. Taylor
I fail to understand how the AARP can throw us all under the bus. Most of us are relatively healthy, but what happens if that changes. They target hip replacements as "too expensive". I already have one. What will happen to those like me who will need a replacement of the replacement? Will they just amputate? I'll be at least 72 when what I have starts to fail. I am terrified.


Commenter: Susan Davis
And no one talks about the billions and billions of dollars spent on emergency rooms for illegal aliens, not to mention in the maternity wards... here in Dallas, 70% of all babies born in Parkland Hospital are born to illegal Hispanic women - some of them technically already American because they, themselves, were born in Parkland to an illegal mother! Go to any Emergency Room anywhere in the country and you will see it will be filled with illegal aliens both children and adults, receiving the best care FOR FREE, which American citizens cannot get! Wake up, America!


Commenter: Bruce S
I defy anyone to show where, in the constitution, government gets the authority to force me to buy health insurance for myself or to force me to pay for someone else's care. It's a sad fact of life that people get sick and die, but that doesn't give them the right to use the force of government to make a claim on the fruits of my labors to pay for their health issues. To do so is moral cannibalism.


Commenter: Pam Shamburger
After paying medicare taxes all our adult lives, we are now denied health care!!! Come on Seniors! Don't let the communists win this!!! Get them out of office one way or another!!! This is our country! If those jerks that Obama has surrounded himself with are so unhappy with our country, get the hell outta here! We don't want you here! That goes for all the stupid muslims that want to live like they did thousands of years ago and force that way of life on us! WE DON'T WANT THAT!!! GO HOME! THIS IS AMERICA! OUR AMERICA!


Commenter: Dee in Littlerock, CA
The Republicans, like most Americans, are not 'against' Health Care Reform .. What we are against is the 'cost' that this is going to put on 'generations to come' .. Our Country is broke..In the Baucus Bill, it WOULD NOT cover everyone, as they want .. The 'illegals' will still be using our Emergency Rooms, the 'downtrodden' homeless people will not be able to pay the 'fines' that the Bill would REQUIRE.. and in this 'economic downturn', there will be and are people who are 'Homeless'..and in Survivor Mode .. So what is accomplished? NOTHING!! Does anybody really believe that the Govt. is going to miraculously FIND $500 Billion in Medicare waste? Hardly!! Why haven't they found it before this 'Liberal' Administration said they will cut Medicare? It should be very interestimg to see what the 'final' bill is, but I do believe it will have the 'Govt Option' .. which will just be another 'Government Run' program, that in the end will cost MORE than what was predicted, and our Country will be 'bankrupt' .. It's just another march to Socialism .. There are other ways to improve our Health Care, but it certainly isn't with a TRILLION dollar plus program that won't even be in effect until 2013!! They'll tax the hell out of Americans, and by 2013, they'll have spent the money before anyone 'sees' it ... especially in this NON-TRANSPARENT Administration... Have you tracked the '$787 Billion TARP' bill .. it's not on the website!! This is just a huge 'power-grab' initiated by this Administration.. it's called 'Pay-Back' to all the UNIONS, ACORN and LIBERALS that got this president elected!! Seniors need to wake up, this is an AMERICAN issue ... We can do better!!


Commenter: Medina
AARP is in the bag for anything Obama wants. They don't give a hoot about us seniors, just care for the benefit will get from by pushing the ObamaCare Health plan, so they get more dollars in their bank accounts. Besides it will be his reward as for electing him to his seat of power!
We just cancelled the auto insurance, which we paid off completely for the whole year, we have to pay $57.oo for cancelling it. I wash shocked! They had given us a discount for having our home and car with them. AARP just worry about money, not about people at all. We were for years their customer and that was the thanks we got from them. We have to cut our food budget in order to pay the money. Thanks God we did changed; we are paying a huge amount less than we were paying to the AARP group.
Will be changing my home insurance next month, too. I will not recomend these selfish inconsiderate liars to no one.
So I advise every one to drop their membership as soon as possible. AARP will do the same thing they did to us after long yrs.of being customers who paid in advance most of the times. Wake up people and teach a lesson to them for taking advantage of us seniors. We are not stupid as they think!


Commenter: Dee in Littlerock, CA
The AARP is nothing but a 'left-wing' spokesman for this Administration. I've called them


Commenter: Ruth Petit
This whole issue of National Health Care is to me, a Canadian citizen, an no-brainer. Please stop debating this ad nauseum and act. If this is not accepted it becomes a debacle instead of a debate.
Urge everyone to see the movie "Sicko". There is no clearer picture out there than that movie. The whole issue is to most of us looking in from another country, a National Shame of the United States of America. We love you all, so act, don't waste any more time and lives.


Commenter: Joan Sage
Where's the discussion of Single-payer or medical-for-all! Why can't
Americans enjoy the kind of health coverage our Congress has and
the health coverage that all modern industrial democratic nations
have given their citizens for decades!


Commenter: Robert
There is no way that you can cut 500 million from a plan and still maintain the care that the plan did when you started. The AARP no longer speaks for the retired population. It speaks for United Healthcare Corp and SEIU that has organized its workers. United Healthcare has gotten concessions from Congress to protect it from the more onerous parts of this reform bill. That is why the AARP is supporting this legislation. They stand to make money through the United Healthcare supplemental insurance they have loaned their name to.


Commenter: Frederick
The problem of course is that all those practical, down-to-earth, cost-conscious realists, who accuse liberals of Utopianism, are actually the ones basing their positions on rigid philosophical grounds. They cite free market principles, sometimes even quoting Adam Smith, throwing in accusations of Socialism, Communism, Fascism against their opponents. Why, if conservatives actually believe what they now say, that the system is indeed in need of reform, did the right-wing think tanks, and the Republicans, do nothing in this area when in control of the government(they could have passed an even milder bill than the one which they will probably now get)? The logical conclusion is that their preferred model is the current one, in its entirety.

Isn't it interesting that even the most left-leaning members of Congress, oh say, Sanders and Kucinich, address individual issues in detail? They never use slogans, don't quote Karl, Vlad, Mao, Fidel, or even Eugene or Norman. I wonder why the mainstream media, the liberal media, in the pocket of the Democratic Party and Barack Obama, never call into question the obvious inconsistency of the conservative position. How hard would it be to ask somebody (Coburn, DeMint, Hutchison, Cantor, Ryan, yes, and Martin), since government programs are so inefficient, corrupt, evil, whether he/she believes Social Security, Medicare, and the Veteran's Administration should be abolished?


Commenter: Roger H Strube MD
Health Care Reform is not centrally about Medicare and I don't understand how Republicans got some elderly folks so exercised about it (and I am a registered Republican). The discussion should be about recognizing that health care is a right of all Americans (even those who want to live in Mexico) and the most efficient way to accomplish this is expanding Medicare to all Amrican citizens (I guess that stand makes me a liberal Republican). The "cuts" in Medicare services proposed would be easily reached by authorizing negotiations for price with drug companies and cuting reimbursement for services that have been shown not to be medically necessary. I have been covered by Medicare for two years and extremely happy with my "government run" Advantage Plan (a.k.a., HMO coverage). I would not be too concerned about physicians dropping out of Medicare if the program expands to all Americans. The majority of practices are now supported by some government program. Universal Medicare coverage will simplify their (administrative) lives and have no impact on an medically necessary services they provide.


Commenter: Deborah O'Briem
I am disabled and on medicare which I am very grateful for. Without Medicare I would not be able toe get the care I need, however even on Medicare which is being managed by Humana so I could get prescription coverage the copays are very difficult. My son is 24 and trying to find a job to work his way through college and has no coverage which really worries me. Medical copays eat up over half of my disability pay. I have worked in Medical billing and know how screwed up the system is and the games the insurance companies play to get out of paying. One thing that they could do is make all the insurance companies billing practices universal. I can't count the number of times a doctors office or hospital had to eat the cost of a procedure because of technacalities set by the insurance companies which are very confusing and each companies rules for billing being different it can be a lot to keep up with plus they are constantly changing the rules. Getting people out of the emergency room because that is the only place they can get care and into a doctors office would save huge amounts and leave the emergency room dealing with real emergencies. If we don't get health care reform that is available to everyone I fear it will bankrupt this country.


Commenter: PJ
In discussing health care, we must remember that all of us will be seniors at some point. The current system is bankrupting our country... it is unsustainable. While its reasonable that current seniors would not be happy about changes that might "hurt" them, one would hope that they and the organizations that represent them will also consider the welfare of future seniors.


Commenter: Greg Gordon
Seniors do use the health care system more. Many of them have formed long lasting relationships with doctors and specialists in their area. When the Democrat health care plan cuts Medicare, many of those doctors may stop accepting Medicare patients and this ultimately hurts seniors the most.


Commenter: Old Gringo
I am amazed at all parties to the "what to do with Medicare" debate overlook a simple improvement.. extend the use of the card to pay for services out of the country. call it "outsourcing" health care by allowing us unwanted seniors to live out our days elsewhere... in the republican opposition that says look at canada and how they leave the country to get services, they fail to mention they do it as their insurance card pays out of the country.. thus, Canadians cross the border and use their card which is as readily accepted as a Blue Cross card. The immediate effect of out of country payments would be cost containment.. since other systems are not profit oriented. Over time that would make care competitive as doctors here would see that their pay checks go down as they have already priced themselves out of the market. 48% (AMA 2006)of providers here in NM are on record as saying no more Medicare patients. It happened to me, no doctor in my town would accept me when I turned 65. (God damnable Republicans! rule here and opposed to Medicare, rendering a Medicare card worthless.) So do the right thing: let our people go! many seniors would live out their days as ex-patriots if only they could carry their insurance them. It would be a welcome thing.. get rid of the seniors... we are nor wanted for our impact on social systems.. taxes... living here as a retired senior is a form of involuntary servitude... many of us stay as we cannot take a health insurance card with us. let us go!


Commenter: Sandy
Both are wrong. What's best for seniors is an expanded version of what they've got now: Improved Medicare for All. This all American plan before Congress as the Weiner Amendment would increase their coverage and extend it to eliminate the PartD gap and include full dental, vision, and hearing--just as it would do for everyone else.

What's worst for seniors is shaving off Medicare to pay for any plan that forces us to support medical racketeers.


Commenter: Rocky Buldo
In the USA our current sick care system is the best there is so long as you buy into the concept.
It is designed perfectly to privatize profit and socialize loss.
The Old and very ill (Citizens) are on a US government single payer system, Medicare or Medicaid.
The vast majority of (consumers) are subjects and thereby governed by the insurance cartel that has our social security numbers as well as it's hand in banking, our investments. Having the data points it governs our choices making the decisions RATIONING CARE as needed to keep Wall Street numbers up purely on a P

The opinions expressed belong solely to the participants and do not necessarily reflect the views of NOW, PBS, or local stations. The facts stated by the participants have not been verified by NOW.

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