Thu. May 26, 2011
Medicare: Last Hired, First Fired
Kevin Drum asks “Why Not Let the Dead Pay for Medicare?” The plan he suggests would set Republicans to screaming “death tax!”
But if the idea is to offer a way to cut Medicare costs without going to the extreme of Paul Ryan’s plan to end Medicare as we know it, well, I can play, too (note, Ryan’s plan died in the Senate)
In tough times, businesses have to make tough decisions about cutbacks. And if it comes time to layoff some employees, the general rule often followed is “last hired, first fired.”
So, what was the last change made to Medicare that increased its overall costs? Medicare Part D, the prescription drug plan passed without any offsetting budget cuts or revenue increases. It was sold to us as a plan that might cost about $400 billion over ten years, but it turns out that’s about half the actual cost (“Projected net expenditures from 2009 through 2018 are estimated to be $727.3 billion”).
Three quarters of a trillion dollars spent on a program that was never paid for in any way. Just added onto the deficit.
Of course, that law was passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Republican president … with no funding whatsoever! Today, it is suggested that we can’t even provide emergency funds for tornado victims because, well, you’ve got to make more budget cuts to pay for that!
And let’s remember just how Medicare Part D was passed: “A 15-minute vote was scheduled, and at the end of 15 minutes, the Democrats had won. The Republican leadership froze the clock for three hours while they desperately whipped defectors. This had never been done before.”
So let’s remove the last unfunded mandate associated with Medicare, and see if that, associated with other changes included in the Affordable Care Act, can save Medicare as we know it, before we end it as we know it.