Saving Medicare

Should taxes be raised to help save Medicare?

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  • Karen

    Paul Ryan’s plan is a joke. He only wants to give seniors $6000 vouchers per year to purchase private individual health insurance knowing that private individual health insurance cost $24000 per year. This means that people 65 or older will have to pay $18000 from their savings, if they have any or go into debt. This also means that people 65 or older will have to choose between eating, paying rent & utilities and purchasing private individual health insurance.

  • lar

    Qualifying age for Medicare should be raised slowly – say 1 month age increase per year

  • Eileen

    People are clueless. They think they can get all the benefits of government programs without paying for it. The money has to come from somewhere. The program has to be modified.

  • Marc

    The problem with saving Medicare is actually the problem with saving the healthcare system in general. We have too many vested interests whose main concern is maintaining fat profit margins. Until we create a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system that provides all Americans with proper healthcare and access to that healthcare, eliminating waste and more importantly, eliminating insurance companies, whose sole function is to create profit, not health, we are doomed to failure.

  • Bob D.

    THE ANSWER IS SIMPLE: require the wealthy seniors to contribute more each month,increase THEIR premium by another $100 per month. The young people are already taxed too much. The present seniors paid in basically peanuts while the drive their Mercedes to doctors offices..

  • Bob D.

    Hey Karen, did U hear that the Fed Reserve says that this geberation of seniors is not only the wealthiest ever, BUT, get this: that 75% of all assets in the country is in the hands (pockets) of those over 65. Fixed income?

  • BJD

    the Veterans administration negotiates for drugs why can Medicare do the same?

    In society we can negotiate for everything else why not medicine for Medicare??

  • susu

    SPOT ON………come down here to Florida. These well healed seniors,opulent life style and LEXUS MVs!!!Overheard comment between 2 Seniors this week.
    ” I am going to get ALL my healthcare needs at the VA.Me and the wife figured doing this, we won’t have to touch our $300,000 nest egg.” I had to walk away in fear of being arrested from my comments. PS: VA enrollees need to be MEANS tested, too. The Tax Payer would be shocked at the manipulative games being played at that Federal program. Not ALL former vets are “entitled” to free “life-time” healthcare. Remember, Vets don’t pay taxes on any of the benefits they receive.

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps wealthy seniors move to Florida because they can, the rest remain in their older homes making do. Florida seniors are not representative of the overall population of over 65.

  • Anonymous

    Raising the age is a “one-size-fits-all” solution that penalizes lower income, uninsured and/or people in labor – sounds great if you are a professional who can’t imagine ever retiring. Waitresses, carpenters, housekeepers, etc. work long, hard hours that tear their bodies down…making them wait longer to receive Medicare is not only a bad solution, but just plain immoral.

  • Bob D

    Do U know why the call Medicare and SS entitlements? Because the wealthy seniors think they are “entitled” to these programs. ‘Greedy geezers’ is what Sen Alan Simpson calls them. And he’s in his 70′s

  • PatrickM

    We need a health care system like the other first world countries. Not a for profit system that only benefits the wealth.

  • chas tanner

    Obviosly Medicare needs more $$. The one panelist said that the 1.65% medicare tx by empoyee & empl’er continued above the $109,000 cut-off. I didn’t think this was the case. More Medicare $$ would be accrued if the tax continued above $109,000 ceiling. 2ndly, the health system spends too much $$! I have sold group med-plans for 25 yrs. In the past 8 yrs group med preiums have doubled if not quadrupled. If you are scheduled for a med procedure no one at the Hospital can give you an idea what the cost of a procedure to be. The hospital seems to have no regard for cost. It’s their business and those that work there. Insurance companies seem not to be able to control costs. I receive primary medicare care via the Vets Hospital. It seems to me that an x-ray or pulmonary test can be done thru out the day by people dedicated to the task at some savings, etc. Of course the film needs to be read by a competent specialist, which is probably where the cost “comes in”. The Affordable Care Act will require more counseling upon poor health habits and chooses. If we live healthier ( smoking, obesity) we will be less of a health liability on our society. chas tanner butler, PA

  • brookej

    It doesn’t require a single payer. The excellent health care systems of the Netherlands, France and Switzerland use multiple payers, and cost about half as much as our system does. A single payer of health care costs suffers from the same disadvantages as a single maker of automobiles, or anything else. And a single payer is a single gatekeeper. Do you think a single payer would cover abortions during a Republican administration? Or even contraceptive costs?

  • brookej

    Because (a Republican) Congress prohibited Medicare from negotiating drug and medical device prices. Thus Medicare pays far more for drugs than the VA or Kaiser. Because the drug and device makers paid congress to maximize their profits. And our Congressmen, being honest politicians, do what they have been paid to do.

  • barefootpaul

    A simple fix for Medicare is to bring back the public option — allow at least some of those who don’t currently qualify to purchase Medicare coverage and adjust their premiums to ensure benefits can be paid for those who do qualify. It’s a simple option addtion to the ACA exchanges.

  • barefootpaul

    Maybe they feel “entitled” because they’ve paid into them throughout their lives? These were never intended to be welfare programs. If they were, they’d be cut faster than you can say “austerity”.

  • Tony

    It isn’t just Medicare, it’s the cost of health care in general. Look at an itemized invoice of a hospital stay and tell me why we can’t negotiate those costs down? It is price gouging and it feels like we are powerless to do anything about it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Mr.Chirpsky Jae Alexander

    Government is soooo much smarter than the average consumer. Put your faith in Big Brother to navigate your inscrutible health-care decisions for you. Riiiiight.

  • jwgrant

    Why not create Medicare hospitals like VA hospitals that specialize in the ailments of age? Why not graduate or import more doctors so that they have to compete instead of letting them grumble about Medicare/Medicaid payments? Why not subsidize med students so they have no loans and ask that they work some number of years with seniors in payment? Guarantee most healthcare workers (and doctors) salaries and regular 40 hour weeks… Form care teams… Out reach and more home care/ less hospital. I’d hate to calculate all the days my Mom (85 yrs old) spent in the hospital because of back pain — the only place she could get enough pain killer to relieve her. Oh!!! And the doctors didn’t want her to get “addicted”!! Like at 85 you need to be in pain rather than “addicted”! She’d do emergency room and nights in the hospital because of antiquated ideas of pain care.

  • Karen

    Agreed, but remember when president Obama first proposed healthcare reform, a universal single payer system, republican politicians said Obama was a socialist, put ads on tv, radio & the Internet saying universal single payer healthcare is government healthcare & that was what Obama was proposing. Most Americans to this day don’t know that Medicare & Medicaid are universal single payer government healthcare that they paid into. In addition, these same politicians said Obama wanted to turn us into Canada or Europe even though these politicians knew nothing & still know nothing about Canadian & European healthcare. I’ve had medical treatment in Canada, France, Spain & Germany-no long wait times for treatment & to see a doctor. In fact, the wait time to see a doctor is longer in the U.S.

  • Karen

    Subsidizing med students cost money since they won’t be able to treat seniors as payment until they graduate & are certified. Guarantee salaries & 40 hour weeks cost money. Who is going to do all of this- the government? Americans keep saying they want smaller government. What you are proposing will enlarge the government . You can’t have it both ways, either you want smaller government or a large government. Are you willing to increase your taxes to pay for these.

  • Karen

    Because the republican congress put ads on tv, radio & the Internet saying Obama was a socialist & wanted to turn this country into Canada or Europe (even though these idiots knew nothing & still know nothing about Canadian & European healthcare) to make sure most Americans would be against the public option & it worked. A survey was done recently of Americans on Medicare & Medicaid to see if they knew Medicare & Medicaid are single payer public option healthcare-75% didn’t know.

  • Karen

    You’re correct the cutoff is $109,000

  • Karen

    That’s a generalization by the federal reserve & our politicians so they can justify cutting our earned benefits. They’re saying the same thing about people on social security even though a recent survey showed that 90% of seniors depended on social security to pay for rent, food, utilities, medicine.

  • Karen

    True however, these vets sacrificed & risked their lives to protect all Americans, this country & you so that you don’t have to sacrifice & risk your life like they did. Many of these vets have a lifetime of physical ailments from being exposed to chemicals like agent orange & asbestos or have lifetime mental health issues from seeing their fellow soldiers being blown up or seeing their fellow soldiers’ arms or legs being torn off by a bomb or IED.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sharon.tong.5811 Sharon Tong

    None of the systems in the world is truly working. Average age, available tests, treatments, expectations, etc are all different. The whole system needs a new design. Its better to make changes to more suited design

  • Californian

    I was very disappointed in the discussion. No one discussed reforming the way we deliver medicine. I suggest all of you who think the world and all knowledge stops at the Charles, Hudson, Delaware and Potomac Rivers look to the other coast. Kaiser Permenente is the largest medical insurer in California. As a member, I can be treated at any Kaiser facility. The doctor does not have to rerun a hundred tests as all of my medical records are available to any Kaiser doctor electronically. Most importantly, Kaiser is proactive instead of reactive. The goal is to keep members healthy and much emphasis is put on this. It is much cheaper to keep people healthy than to cure them once they become ill.

  • Dan

    Judith Stein is right on no negotiation on drugs prices,this was forced on us by GW Bush and lobbiests.This somehow needs to be changed,to help save lots of money for medicare.dpskuza@aol.com

  • Karen

    I just finished watching need to know on Medicare. How about reforming what Medicare pays for? Medicare should pay for quality of care & not quantity especially when seniors are hospitalized. Most hospitals send people home before they’re well enough. Then these patients have a relapse & are back in the hospital. Ex. A couple of years ago during Memorial Day weekend, I was hospitalized with pneumonia. I was hospitalized at 10pm Sunday night & the hospital wanted to send me home the next morning at 8am even though I still had a 103 degree fever. Call me cynical, could the reason that our congressmen & senators want to raise the age to 66-70 (I heard one of these idiots saying to increase the age 1 month per year for 10 years & end at 70) to qualify for Medicare so that more Americans end up dying before they can apply for Medicare (these are the same politicians who were screaming about death panels when Obama wanted to include allowing doctors to have discussions with their patients about end of life choices)?

  • Karen

    How about requiring all our congressmen & their families, senators & their families, the Vice Presidents past, present & future and their families, presidents past, present & future and their families to have the same healthcare as the rest of us & require them to pay into medicare & Medicaid like the rest of us? That would go a long way to solve Medicare’s problem.

  • Karen

    Agreed, I’m also a kaiser. A doctor told me that kaiser doesn’t have to do anything to be in compliance with the affordable care act since all medical records are available electronically, tests & medicine are ordered electronically. In fact, kaiser spent $1 billion to upgrade their system so that doctors can see your x-rays, CT scans, MRI & other tests electronically. As a kaiser member, if your doctor wants you to get a colonoscopy, for example, you don’t have to wait until your health insurance company approves this test & will pay for it.

    For people who don’t know, kaiser permanente is also in New York State & Massachusetts.

  • Karen

    Our congressmen, senators, Vice President & president past and present think they’re entitled to receive their taxpayer paid healthcare for life that’s why they passed legislation allowing them to receive taxpayer paid healthcare for life. They’re the greedy geezers. Sen Alan Simpson has a lot of audacity since he receives taxpayer paid healthcare for life.

  • Get Real

    Any attempt to save Medicare while ignoring the gorilla in the corner of the room will fail. The gorilla of which I speak is tort reform. PBS is the only channel I can watch any more without seeing ads recruiting people for class action lawsuits against drugs and device manufacturers. They could not run all these ads if they were not making huge money on the lawsuits. People keep talking about how our medical system works differently than Canada & Europe, but ignoring the fact that we allow lawyers to sue and win at levels not seen in other 1st world countries. It seems that most new drugs are out for approximately 6 months before you start seeing the ads recruiting people for class actions lawsuits for having taken them. The proliferation of class action lawsuits will almost certainly have a stifling effect on R&D for new & better medicines. In order for any entity in the healthcare system to make a profit, they must charge more than what the actual cost of the procedure, medicine, etc costs to cover the price of litigation. When physicians spend more than the average American makes per year on malpractice insurance, the system is broken. We must overcome this idea that you can with the malpractice lottery by suing for what quite often is listed as known side effects and or warnings of what not to do while on a certain medicine. I have seen examples routinely where Dr’s recommend a less expensive treatment plan, only to be overruled by patient’s & families who insist on the most expensive mode of treatment and when they Dr hesitates, the family will invariably bring up litigation to force the Dr to order the more expensive treatment route. As long as we allow people to demand Cadillac healthcare, it will cost us Cadillac prices.

  • Geenwich Village Seniors

    We need more doctors in the medical system. So pay for there education and have them work it off with there service to Medicare. Look to the Lottery System to create a revenue flow that spends for this education and the replenishes its reseve for education for doctors for the Medicare system. Eisenstein had a world changing mathematical formular I’m sure there is a likewise thinker that come up with a financial formulary to solve our problem of covering our Medicare System

  • Holistic approach to Medicare

    The cost of health care for America is the most important point as we are discussing now. Let’s face the truth here. The health care is as critical as our national defense. Can you imagine that our national defense would be privatized? The consequences? The only solution to the national health care solution is that the federal government should take the responsibilty of the American health care system so that the cost of total health care would go down as being the single payer, and consequently the health care cost for elderly Amerians, “medicare” would go down as well.

  • Gunnar

    I am the clinical director and owner of a small mental health clinic in Fairbanks, Alaska (8 clinicians). I can tell you that what two of the discussants said about access to doctors not being in peril, does not hold true up here. Here are three examples: my mother cannot find a dermatologist who will take medicare to treat her, and pays cash despite the fact that she has both medicare and retiree’s insurance from the University; I do not accept medicaid or medicare because of the administrative burden on my clinicians and subsequent drop in job satisfaction and clinical excellence that will follow; in Fairbanks now, there is only one mental health agency who will treat medicaid beneficiaries who are children, and they are completely overwhelmed and it is months of waiting to get in with them. Something radical must be done to change this dynamic because as people cannot access services, their particular medical issues get worse and end up costing us 10 times what they would if they were treated in a timely manner, not to mention the personal pain and misery that could be averted.

  • arsailman

    Any ideas of raising the eligibility age for medicare will cost more money than it will save. The loss of 65 and 66 year olds, (and their premiums), who have less medical costs than the older beneficiaries will cost more than the savings. Premiums for the rest on medicare will have to go up to make up the difference, or more taxes will have to be used to make up the difference…

  • arsailman

    Same electronic records with the VA. Go to any VA hospital in the US, and they can access your records, xrays, etc. Great system…

  • arsailman

    I get the majority of my care from the VA. But, it is not free. We are means tested (although I am not sure if military retirees are). As I am not poor enough to qualify, I pay copays for my local doctor as well as a copay 3xs+ as much for specialists at the VA hospital which is 80 miles away. As I am not poor enough to collect it, I don’t get the mileage allowance for my trip, altho some do, especially disabled and poor vets who also have no copays…

  • arsailman

    To fix this and Social Security, the salary caps should be eliminated. This would keep SS solvent forever…

  • Karen

    That’s what Obama tried to do & failed because the republican politicians got all Americans riled up & against single payer by hammering home that single payer is socialism & that Obama was trying to turn this country into Canada or Europe even though Medicare, Medicaid & the VA are single payer government healthcare.

  • Karen

    Paying for their education through the lottery system is an in-direct tax. The problem with that is that it will affect poor Americans & the middle class the most since these 2 groups play the lottery for the most part.

  • Karen

    True. However, I recently read a book written by a oncologist from John Hopkins. He indicated that in the operating rooms of all our hospitals across this nation, 40 mistakes occur every day from operating on the wrong organ of the patient to leaving an instrument inside the patient. ex. The problem is with the right leg. However, the surgeon operates on the left leg & doesn’t realize the mistake until after the patient is in the recovery room. Therefore, patient has to have a second operation so the surgeon can operate on the correct leg. In addition, the surgeon has 2 surgical options, the deep operation which causes more after surgery infections but lets the hospital make more money because the patient has to stay in the hospital longer or the short operation.

  • mcav

    If taxes are raised, the private sector will continue their price gouging and unnecessary administrative layers of actuaries, insurance, executives and management. Set limits on private health “care” industries and focus on patient care, not profit for management.

  • susu

    NO Karen…….not ALL Vets sacrificed their lives for our country. You are one of the zillion taxpayers who do NOT understand the VA Federal Benefit Program. Due to any discussion/relevation of the VA Program being Politically sensitive, investigative Reporting is off limits.. Spending 4 years on a Base in a non combat zone, re-signing up for 4 Tours of duty because an Enlistee could not procure a job in the private sector does NOT warrant the taxpayer paying for LIFETIME Benefits …TAX FREE!. Turn off your TV!!!!

  • susu

    and Sir…………how many times have you been to a VA Clinic with minor health concerns. As ALL Vets know how the “System” works,
    those “visits” are reviewed at MEANS Testing periods and determine if your your Benefits are INCREASED. Why should taxpayers give you TRAVEL PAY for your medical appointments?….the IRS ALREADY covers it on a 1040. The VA System is ALSO borken and it is being totally shielded because it is Politcally Incorrect to review the HORRENDOUS expense/waste to taxpayers.

  • susu

    Another taxpayer who does not understand Economics………..ANYONE who paid/pays into MEDICARE NEVER contributed enough $$ into the Medicare system….. to the $$ they eventually take out.. We are lving longer and the Medicare $$ spent on a Patient the last 3 years of life are a minute to what an individual has contributed.. This has been documented numerous times/journals/committees.

  • Ron A

    Disagree completely. A single payer may not be the ONLY solution but it certainly is a very viable one and better than what we are currently doing. Simply because it pools the healthy along with the less-healthy. All paying “reasonable” premiums in some way/form. Is it perfect?? Of course not. But doing NOTHING until we can go from “broken to perfect” is great rhetoric to keep us perpetually in the current state. Ask anyone who uses Medicare. Especially seniors to those “frothing conservatives”. Without exception, they are all very positive on Medicare. Their biggest complaint is with the paperwork. I have talked to medical professionals who have said they are not looking forward to having to deal with the complexity. The system is proven as can be evidenced by any number of “first world” countries. The only reason the American people are being victimized over this issue (along with many others) is that the political system has been “HIJACKED” by those special interests reaping a huge profit under the current system.

    As far as “other multiple payer” systems that cost half as much as ours, what are the other comparisons like?? How do their “tort” systems compare?? Is their health care “for profit’ or ??? What rights do the multiple payers have?? Comparing ONLY the cost is never enough.

  • Ron A

    Sorry, my message was meant to reply to Brooke. I agree with Marc.

  • Get Real

    The book you refer to is sensationalizing the issue. Most medical errors are much less dramatic than removing the wrong leg or the wrong organ. A medical error can be as simple as giving a once daily Over-the-counter medicine [such as docusate sodium or low-dose aspirin) outside of the facilities approved parameters (i.e. a nurse has from 0700-0800 to administer the med, but the patient next door is critically ill & the patient receives the medicine at 0830)]. Additionally, most of the time when a patient has a procedure/operation there is a 30, 60, or 90 day global billing period during which Medicare & most insurance companies will not pay additional money for procedures related to the initial procedure. No facility I have been associated with would charge the patient for a 2nd operation to correct a medical error of the magnitude you describe. Every facility I’ve been affiliated with makes certain in situations where a mistake/error of the magnitude you describe occurs that the cost of the additional hospital stay/procedures and quite often any needed outpatient followup care is covered/comped by the facility. Every hospital I’ve been associated with has a Risk Management Dept that is immediately apprised of such errors and they are very proactive in working to make the situation right. Furthermore, under the Medicare DRG payment system, the longer a patient remains in the facility, the less profit the facility makes. Hospitals are incentivized by Medicare to reduce patient length of stay. Prolonged hospital stays seriously erode the thin profit margins most hospitals operate under. Hospitals make money on the simple, easy, routine cases. Hospitals routinely lose money on more complex and difficult cases, again related to how the DRG payment system works.

  • Minnie

    These are excellent ideas. Your Mother’s experience an excellent illustration of one of the many failures in our approach to healthcare

  • Minnie

    Private individual insurance does not cost $24,000/year…unless one has a long list of preexisting conditions. Perhaps most seniors have them. But not all seniors are without income…nor as destitute as you suggest. What about means testing?

  • Minnie

    Is it possible that people cannot access services because you are not alone as a provider who turns them away because of administrative ‘burden’ and fear of loss of ‘job satisfaction’. How about the satisfaction of providing an essential service to those in need? How about inspiring your clinicians to rise to thee occasion?

  • geezer

    Why can I buy the same drugs in Mexico for about 1/10th of the cost in USA? Same package, same manufacturer..

  • Bob D

    Susu—U R correct, most seniors receive 10 times in benefits compared to what the paid in. First, Medicare didn’t start (and hence payroll reductions) until, I believe in the 1970′s. The average senior stays on Medicare (and SS) for an average of 10 years. That’s approx $90,000 in a lifetime measure by that $9,000 per year that Medicare pays to an alternative Medical Advantage Program. The most a [wealthy] seneior could have paid into the Medicare system in their working life (Yes, I know how ‘hard’ they worked) was less than $10,000. And this says nothing about the amt of SS received vis a vis what was paid in. The young people get screwed to pay the wealthy seniors–because they-the seniors are the biggest voting group.

  • David Antebi

    I was disappointed with the panel discussion on Medicare. The members were expert in the area and we learned the consequence to single approach to a multi faceted problem of saving Medicare. But the chair did not ask questions on policy remedies Now that we are coming into the cut back season we as voters need to know what array of policy options to change the system. This was glaring absent in the presentation. What are some of the changes needed in the provider system? Should there be a tax on full time as well as part time workers? How can we make the system more efficient? What are specific measures needed to reduce fraud and abuse?Why are we not looking for solution t`o our problems in plans in different countries like France ,Canada, Sweden. We do not have to make the wheel over we can gain from others experiences. Why not create a Need To Know panel of experts to approach these problems and share their response with all of us.

  • Ron A

    Pretty simple Bob. Just like your retirement, the money you put in at age 20 is not dollar for dollar what you take it out 45 years later at age 65. Factor in inflation and compounding as happens with your retirement. That is, of course, assuming you don’t SPEND the funds on something else during the interim like the Feds so often do. Raise the contribution cap if that is necessary instead of flushing the entire system down the toilet.
    Bottom line, do you WANT the system to succeed or do you have some other means for your own health care and “be damned” with everyone else. If everyone approached the table with one goal in mind and no pre-conceived agenda’s, we (American’s) could ALL have reasonably priced health care. This isn’t “rocket science”. In fact, we do much better at that until profit and special interest becomes the number one agenda leading to catastrophic results.

  • Anonymous

    Interns and residents are paid stipends by their university medical schools out of medicare funds the university receives for training doctors. For example, in 1999, or thereabouts, the University of Washington received over $400 million for training doctors. The reimbursement rate was approximately $67,000 per FTE (full time equivalent) for interns, residents and fellows) and the stipend paid to first years was around $44,000 a year, leaving $23,000 to be used at the university’s discretion.

  • nrcbtm1

    Just increase the age Medicare becomes effective for seniors in proportion to life expectancy and add a means test that reduces benefits as income increases.

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