Thursday, July 16, 2009

Where are the Gray Panthers?

Obama's new plan, according to the Washington Post, will require that Congress finds huge "cost savings" in Medicare:
Congress is attempting to extract as much as $500 billion in Medicare cost savings to pay for health-care reform, but Obama administration officials are concerned that those savings would not result in the transformative fixes the system needs to be stabilized for the long term. White House officials say their own proposals for payment reform would make the system more flexible, allowing it to respond to developments such as breakthroughs in treatment.

Dick Morris has suggested that this means Medicare will effectively be merged/transformed into the national healthcare system. So, that means that the elderly will go from having their own healthcare system to being lumped into the healthcare system with the general population and their needs will be weighed against the needs of younger patients with "more distant time horizons". Just today the Obama administration introduced new measures to pull control over pay-rates for Medicare services away from Congress and into the executive branch. From the WaPo:

Obama administration officials say they are determined to stem soaring Medicare spending, arguing that it is a root cause of the broader health-care crisis that they are trying to address with Congress. Behind the scenes, Obama is pushing for a mechanism that would take Medicare payment authority out of the hands of politicians and invest it in a separate entity, possibly under the executive branch.

They will stem soaring Medicare costs by taking the powers of largesse away from Congress and this will result in a deterioration of the status quo for seniors who are used to seeing the specialists they want to see. As a fan of smaller government, I am not arguing for profligate spending to keep those seniors happy but I am utterly baffled at why the Gray Panthers are not in the streets demonstrating against this plan as they did against the Social Security makeover that GWB proposed and was excoriated for.

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