Senate Democrats secured
a controversial health care reform provision on Thursday: changes to
Medicare that would reduce the program's price tag by $460 billion.
Republican critics of the provision, as well as two Democrats (Ben
Nelson and Jim Webb), warn
that it will reduce benefits in Medicare, an enormously popular
government-run health care program. Democrats insist that the measure
is about cost control and will help pay for expanding public health
care to tens of millions of Americans.
- Disaster for Democrats Commentary's Jennifer Rubin gleefully projects
that this vote will be an albatross about the necks of Senate
Democrats. "Remember December 3. It’s a date that will pop up in many
campaign ads [...] And those who are up for re-election next year will
hear about it over and over again." Rubin also suspects that Nelson and
Webb, the two Democrats to vote against, may not support the final
legislation as a result.
- The 'Grand Bargain' The New York Times's Paul Krugman endorses.
"Think of it as a grand bargain: coverage for (almost) everyone, tied
an effort to ensure that health care dollars are well spent," he
writes. "[T]he health care economists I respect are seriously impressed
cost-control measures in the Senate bill, which include efforts to
improve incentives for cost-effective care, the use of medical research
to guide doctors toward treatments that actually work, and more."
- Medicare Too Important The New Republic's John Judis writes, "Medicare is the most penurious and least wasteful of
health insurance programs. If anything, a dispassionate policy-maker
concerned about healthcare costs might have insisted that the private
sector insurance emulate, or perhaps be folded into, Medicare." He adds, "How a society cares for those too young, too old, or too
sick to work is a test of its maturity, and level of
civilization. Social security and Medicare are among the foremost
achievements of American government in the twentieth century."
- Bad For Seniors The Wall Street Journal's Tom Scully blasts a related cut in Medicare Part D. "It sounds smart—except that nobody asked how many employers will drop
retiree drug coverage. Clearly, many will. The result is that, instead
of saving money, the proposed revenue raiser will force Medicare Part D
costs to skyrocket as employers drop retirees into the program."
- Not The Medicare You Think The Washington Independent's Mike Lillis points out, "Lost in the argument is AARP's nuanced reasoning that the Democrats’
bill would preserve benefits under the traditional Medicare program,
even if it scaled back some services under Medicare Advantage,
the confusingly named program in which the government pays private
insurance companies to cover Medicare patients." AARP has endorsed
health care reform.
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