Buying Into Medicare and John Kerry’s 2004 Plan Now Back on The Table

The public option is in trouble in the Senate but this actually might result in a valuable compromise. There is talk of allowing people between the ages of 55 and 65 to buy into Medicare. The plan had been proposed in the past but seemed to have been forgotten during the recent health care debate.

Being able to buy into Medicare starting at age 55 would help those who face the greatest problems in obtaining coverage on the individual market. In theory these problems will not exist after health care reform is passed, but fear that the insurance companies will continue to find ways around the new regulations has fueled the demand for a public option on the left. While unfortunately this will only help those who are 55 and older (at least immediately) it is a true solution for the health care problems for those in that age range. It might be better to have a solution which really works for those who reach age 55 than a watered down plan which helps nobody.

Allowing a buy in at age 55 could also gradually turn Medicare into a nation-wide equivalent of the public option as the age is lowered. Ironically conservatives have objected to a strong public option based upon Medicare but their success in blocking such a plan might wind up ultimately turning Medicare itself into the public option if this compromise is passed.

Another idea being considered is to set up a national plan based upon the plan which members of Congress and other federal employees have access to which provides the choice of a variety of health care plans. Sound familiar? That was actually the heart of John Kerry’s 2004 health care plan. At the time Republicans claimed that this would be a “government take over of health care.” Now it is a plan being proposed to appease the moderates as opposed to a public option, which shows how far health care reform has progressed in the last five years.

Yet another proposal is to increase the number of people eligible for Medicaid coverage. The House bill allows those earning up to 150 percent of the poverty rate to receive Medicaid while the Senate bill allows those making up to 133 percent. Increasing this up to 150 percent would cover more people but I do not consider that to be the ideal solution. This would provide some coverage for more people but would force even more people to receive Medicaid coverage. The quality of Medicaid coverage is already unsatisfactory and the goal of universal coverage should be to provide true health care coverage–not force more into Medicaid.

Those on Medicaid already have difficulty finding private physicians who will accept them. This problem will be even worse if there is a sudden influx of new patients with private insurance and Medicare seeking physicians. This would be great for Medicaid mills, but not for those receiving Medicaid coverage. Ideally the patients who would be on Medicaid should be provided assistance to choose from the same types of public and private plans which are made available to all Americans. While more expensive, expanding the subsidies would be a much better option than expanding Medicaid eligibility.

Acorn Found Not To Have Broken Any Laws

Despite all the noise about Acorn from the right wing, an investigation by the Massachusetts Attorney General found that they had not violated any laws. The Hill reports:

An internal investigation of a series of videos depicting ACORN workers assisting a costumed pimp and prostitute concluded Monday that those employees “did not engage in any illegal activity.”

While the report, prepared by former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, cited ACORN employees for poor judgment, it ultimately found they did not violate any federal laws.

“While some of the advice and counsel given by ACORN employees and volunteers was clearly inappropriate and unprofessional, we did not find a pattern of intentional, illegal conduct by ACORN staff; in fact, there is no evidence that action, illegal or otherwise, was taken by any ACORN employee on behalf of the videographer,” Harshbarger wrote in the report.

A recent article in Editor & Publisher (which I previously linked to here) puts the controversy over Acorn into perspective.

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Meeting of the Mindless

Michele Bachmann is meeting Sarah Palin tonight per Minnesota Public Radio. I fear a tremendous disruption in the force as a consequence of this farce. With the two together will the result be newer and even more absurd attacks on health care reform as well as on the 21st century?

The Hacked Emails and Climate Change

A video review of the hacked email demonstrating how this does not prove the claims of the conspiracy theorists.

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