Currently, Democratic Senators are now proposing to expand Medicare coverage to the 55-64 age group (this plan would not include a public option). Considered the government's largest public option by some, Medicare is a broken system and is one of the biggest problems with our current health care system. Everyone seems to know this (even Obama) so I am baffled that expanding it would even be considered a good idea.
Peter Amadio, M.D. (an orthopedic surgeon) summed up some of the problems and expenses of Medicare for all parties involved:
Expensive for Patients
- Annual maximums, no dental benefits, no drug coverage (unless you buy it extra).
- Pays each beneficiary $450/month for hospitalization (from tax revenue) as opposed to $350-$400/month for federal employees (under the Federal Employee Benefit Plan).
- Medicare pays about 2/3 the cost (not including profit) of medical care
- Strict price controls for the last 15 years = doctors/hospitals loose money on medicare patients= costs pushed onto non-medicare insurance companies to make up difference.
- Doctors are increasingly refusing care for medicare patients to stay in business
(As a side note, he feels the the existing FEBP would be a realistic model to build off as a means to insure everybody: nationwide plan, does not exclude preexisting conditions, covers dental, covers drugs, costs less than medicare, provides better benefits, costs less to beneficiary and government, and compensates doctors better).
In response to the proposal, Senator Lieberman (Independent, Conn.) stated, "It will add taxpayer costs. It will add to the deficit. It's unnecessary," Senator Nelson (Democrat, Neb.) is concerned this proposal would be, "the forerunner of single-payer, the ultimate single-payer plan, maybe even more directly than the public option." and Senator McCaskill (Democrat, Miss.) stated she would vote against the proposal if it increased the cost of healthcare and the national defecit. Senator Gregg (Republican, New Hampshire) predicted, "It's not going to bend the health care price down. It's going to push more people out of private insurance and into whatever public plan ends up being the vehicle."
What can we do? Make some noise. Email your Senators and let them know if you are unhappy with their current proposal to expand Medicare.
I'm all for finding a solution, but I feel expanding government- and a bankrupt system at that- is not the way.