Since Republicans have made this budget battle all about "values", it's refreshing to hear a Democrat step up to the well of the House and speak for Democrats' values. Rep. Rob Andrews did a wonderful job of speaking those values, which I hope every person who is now on Medicare or will become eligible for Medicare in the next 20 years will hear.
Not only do I hope future recipients hear this speech, I hope some of the Beltway pundits get a clue, too. I could hardly believe it when I read digby's post yesterday quoting a so-called liberal who was nodding and hawing about how yeah, seniors could get some decent insurance with a $15,000/year subsidy.
Seniors would enter the health care world the rest of us live in, with co-payments, deductibles and managed care. Eventually, cost control would require some tough decisions about end-of-life care and the rationing of high-tech treatments that have limited efficacy. But starting with a value of $15,000 per year, per senior—the amount government now spends on Medicare—Ryan's vouchers should provide excellent coverage. His change would amount to a minor amendment to the social contract, not a fundamental revision of it.
Who on earth is that guy kidding? That's not liberal thinking. It's stupid thinking. It's the usual "oh, I must be fair" thinking. Earth to Jacob Weisberg: Get out of that city and see how the rest of us live. Imagine facing bankruptcy because of medical bills the insurance company won't cover. Imagine facing that when you're too old to work as a house painter, or an insurance clerk anymore. I don't know how old or young the intrepid Mr. Weisberg is, but I'm guessing he has never known what it feels like to be discarded by the workforce markets at age 50, much less at age 70.
Yes. We value Medicare. It will be dismantled over my cold, dead body.
ANDREWS: This is a fight about what you value. Ladies and gentlemen of the House, we value Medicare.
We believe that after someone's worked their entire life and paid taxes into that Medicare fund that they should not have to worry that a trip to the radiologist will be followed by a trip to the bankruptcy court. This is what Medicare accomplished for our moms and our dads and our grandparents. It said that after a lifetime of hard work if you have medical worries they'll just be medical worries, not financial worries because Medicare will pay the bill.
The gentleman from California talked about how they're not destroying Medicare, they're saving it. Let's talk about what they're really doing.
Here's what happens. Today if a senior goes to a radiologist of her choice Medicare pays most of the bill and she pays a little bit of it. She decides what doctor to pick, she and the doctor decide what happens next, and no private insurance company gets in the way. Medicare pays the bill.
What they are proposing is to end that system.
So now what will happen under their plan is that the taxes that we pay into the Medicare fund will all be paid to health insurance companies. So we will trust the good hands that so gently guide our healthcare in the healthcare industry...We'll give them the money, all of it, and trust them to do the right thing with the health of America's senior citizens.
That is the wrong thing to do with the health of America's senior citizens. There is a fight here about values. It's a fight that shouldn't take place. We should settle the budget fight. The President's gone three quarters of the way to the Republican proposal.
Settle it today on that basis. But by all means, we will never yield, we will never concede, we will never concede the point that Medicare should be replaced by private insurance companies.
The Congressional Budget Office has said, in analyzing Chairman Ryan's proposal, that the out-of-pocket health care costs for most retirees in America will go up. This isn't spending reform. This is having someone else pick up the tab. The hospitals aren't going to charge less. The doctors aren't going to charge less. The senior's going to pay more to get that coverage. And he or she is going to have to go and ask the insurance company what radiologist they can see. And the radiologist is going to have to ask permission for what test he or she can order.
Medicare's not perfect, but it works. We should preserve it and defeat the underlying bill.