April 11, 2013 |
The budget that President Obama released Wednesday doesn't include the sort of headline-grabbing initiatives that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) included in his proposal for fiscal 2014, such as a dramatic overhaul of the tax code and a transformation of Medicaid into block grants. But it offers a few ideas on Medicare that, while not as cage-rattling as Ryan's plan, would still bring important changes to the program. Make that, important but unpopular changes.
April 3, 2013 |
What's most impressive about our highly dysfunctional heathcare system is that we're always finding clever new ways to make it worse. The latest such move comes on the Medicare front, where lawmakers had been trying to rein in costs by modestly lowering the amount that large insurers would be paid for managing Medicare Advantage plans, which are a private-sector version of the government program. The Obama administration had proposed a 2.3% reduction in payment for the plans, arguing that insurers were making plenty of profit as it was. But after the insurance industry unleashed its lobbyists and started throwing its considerable political muscle around, it ended up not with a pay cut from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, but a 3.3% increase . I have no idea what the correct reimbursement rate should be. But I do know that, as the baby boomers age, Medicare represents a cash cow for insurers with Medicare Advantage plans.
March 29, 2013 |
Now that the budget "sequester" is in effect, Congress is shifting its attention to entitlement reform. There's simply no way to achieve long-term reductions in federal spending without touching the big health programs, particularly Medicare. Although raising the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67 appears off the table, at least for now, the budget plan that Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) is proposing would shift a greater share of the program's growing costs to beneficiaries in the years to come.
March 29, 2013
Re "No debt agreement, no break," Opinion, March 25 Debt hysteria, or "austerity," is the bad idea of late that just will not die. America does not have a debt crisis; it has an employment crisis, which, if appropriately addressed, would reduce the debt. Social Security does not contribute to the federal budget deficit; it is projected to pay out 100% of benefits due until at least 2033, and could remain at 100% forever by raising the contribution cap. Spiraling healthcare costs can be solved by doing three things: end fee-for-service, establish Medicare for all and allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
March 28, 2013 |
CODY, Wyo.--Alan Simpson has spent the better part of two years flying around the country ticking people off, though that's putting it more politely than the former Wyoming senator does. Simpson is the Republican half of the Simpson-Bowles duo (Erskine being the Democrat) that produced a 2010 deficit reduction plan that gored just about every sacred cow in Washington before succumbing to a scarcely lamented death. He continues to campaign around the country for the controversial recipe of tax hikes, spending cuts and entitlement reforms.
March 27, 2013 |
Robert M. Ball is one of the most revered figures in Social Security history, a man whose devotion to safeguarding the program from ideological attacks and political cant over six decades made him the program's "undisputed spiritual leader. " Alice M. Rivlin is a distinguished budget expert at the Brookings Institution whose willingness to promote "entitlement reform" (read: cut benefits) as a deficit nostrum has given her a reputation as a danger to Social Security and Medicare . So when Rivlin was named the ninth recipient of the annual Robert M. Ball Award for Outstanding Achievements in Social Insurance this week, Social Security advocates erupted in fury.