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Your Opinion: Another view on Medicare

Your Opinion: Another view on Medicare

July 1st, 2011 by Tony Smith, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

I enjoyed Robert Haslag's June 25 letter on Medicare until he ended on the wrong note. The thrust of his letter dealt with the incredible plan by Rep. Paul Ryan to end Medicare as we know it.

Ryan has introduced a plan to replace the Medicare system with limited vouchers for citizens to buy private insurance. The nonpartisan CBO has scored the plan a colossal cost to citizens and completely ineffective in reducing costs to the nation or government over any 10-year period.

Then Mr. Haslag makes a second excellent point. All of Missouri's Republican congressional delegates and the national party have doubled down on this disastrous plan and endorsed it. You might think well there must be something more. Not really. When Newt Gingrich tried to introduce some sanity to this discussion the Republican Party's Tea Party movement roared in opposition to him. In a week presidential hopes crashed and burned. A tail now wags the dog and elected Republicans are being driven down a road of extremism.

Where I disagree with Mr. Haslag is where he extends an olive branch by saying reasonable reform is needed. This vague statement is completely wrong. Medicare is America's largest and best run medical program. It serves millions of citizens at a much lower cost than private insurance. Sure we could tinker with it, but the real problems are elsewhere.

Republicans mislead the public with treating Medicare like it was a welfare program. That is a lie as we pay for Medicare with our payroll taxes. A recent letter here alleged we put in $150,000 and on average get back $400,000 in benefits. Designed as a Medical insurance benefit, that is normal. Put $150,000 into an insurance account over a working life of 30 years with 3 percent inflation and it is worth $400,000. Accountants and insurance professionals call this the "time value of money."

America has a medical crisis. In America health care is treated as a commodity. Americans pay double the cost over any other country for merely adequate care. That is the crisis.

The best improvement for Medicare would be cost containment like the VA service has. Drugs and medical appliances are bought by the VA on their terms not the companies who want to profit. Until politicians will bite the hand that feeds them, all political solutions will be at our expense. Are you optimistic?