The Genesis for this posting was Romney's budget plan targeting Medicare and SS for cuts and discretionary spending for humongous cuts, and also an article in today's Science section in the Philadelphia Inquirer by Professor Robert Field (Drexel University) entitled "Must Love Medicare: recent challenge was wildly off base".
Republicans, it seems, just can't resist electorally foolishly advocating cuts to enormously popular federal programs. More below.
The Field article points out that in a recent Harris poll 88% of Americans support Medicare, up from 77% approval in 2005 (about the time of Bush's failed attempt to privatize Social Security). And 80% in a Marist poll opposed major cuts, with 70% of tea partiers opposing cuts.
How about dissatisfaction with medical plans? Glad you asked. Those having a problem with access to health care:
Medicare beneficiaries---20% reported a problem (still too high, of course)
employer-based health care coverage---37%
individual policies---48% (48 percent!!!)
Actually I'm surprised the 48% isn't higher. The last few years before I got medicare coverage I was paying (for a plan connected to the Commonwealth of Pa.) 300-400 dollars a month, and rapidly escalating, for a plan which was good for hospital visits, but only after several thousand dollars deductible) but horrid for doctor visits, a huge deductible and then only a tiny fraction of doctor visits---and those fought over like a female bear defending her cubs. Frankly, if I hadn't gotten Medicare I think I would have had to drop any medical coverage. With Medicare (both parts)
it's just a $10 deductible handed to the receptionist and no problem with appointments every month or so, plus occasional specialists (even a podiatrist!). The health benefits of medicare vs. private insurance aren't even in the same universe.
But back to Dick Armey. Here's an excerpt from the Robert Field article.
All Americans automatically receive Medicare hospital coverage (Part Aof the progeam) when they reach age 65. There are no premiums and no enrollment forms.It's difficult to imagine anyone would want to opt out of a plan like this. But that's what a small group of people want to do.Yes, Dick Armey and 4 others (including a board member for E*Trade and the founder of Rabbit Semiconductor, the article doesn't tell anything of the other 2) wanted to not only decline to collect the benefits (which they could) but wanted to be removed from the rolls altogether. When the government said nope, you can only opt out of Part A if you disenroll from SS, the Armey 5 naturally sued. Why (aside from implicitly being opponents of SS and Medicare)? Well, they claimed their coverage would improve via private plans if they disenrolled (sounds rather erotic, dosen't it?). But Field is the teensiest bit skeptical of their claim.
To call this argument utter nonsense is to put it mildly. As the pools reflect, Medicare consistently outperforms private coverage. The benefits under their policies might improve if they din't get Medicare, but it is highly unlikely the coverage would come close to what Medicare provides.And of course they could go into a Medicare Advantage plan while staying within the program (duh!).
And why not let the gang of 5 just drop Medicare? Hmm, shades of single coverage, everyone covered.
Medicare works well because it applies to everyone. Costs can be spread over the whole population, and hospitals are assured that virtually all elderly patients have a source of payment......Watch it, don;t give them any ideas.
You can't opt out of access to roads or environmental protection
But a federal appeals court has voted aginst the plaintiffs. :(
The article concludes, perhaps a bit sarcastically, eh?
Perhaps the plaintiffs can next try other targets. Would they like the freedom to opt out of national defense?Well, Ron Paul might.
If, as seems highly probable, current Republican ideology is to destroy Social Security and Medicare you wonder why they are so blatantly open about it, given the programs popularity. Why not go the Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan route of getting control of the government's branches without making a "fuss" and then implement them? Willard's budget plan is a slower form of "starving the beast" but, like the Armey 5, seems aimed at sapping the strengths of Medicare and Social Security.