Republicans Advocate Eliminating Medicare

I’ve frequently seen mention of the Republican plan to end Medicare in various medical newsletters but have been surprised that it has not received much attention in the mainstream media. After all, this is an idea which the Democrats should be able to receive support by attacking. The idea is basically to give people vouchers to purchase insurance instead of going on Medicare in ten years. Presumably the Republicans believe that people more than ten years away from Medicare do not think enough about their personal future to pay attention. There is an outside chance they might be right on this. Republicans are also hoping that seniors will not care if it doesn’t affect them, but seniors would be wise to see this as a threat. If young people are not going to wind up on Medicare, they’d have less incentive to see it protected today. Having a steady stream of new people on Medicare will help ensure that there is political support for maintaining this important and highly successful program.

The idea finally started attracting attention today with Paul Ryan writing about his plan in The Wall Street Journal. Apparently one Democrat did a poor job of criticizing the plan on Hardball but there will be many more opportunities. While the Democrats are frequently beaten by Republicans on the spin war, primarily because not being bound by the facts makes it easier to argue, this is one GOP idea which is so bad that even the Democrats should be able to successfully attack it.

The primary problem is that health care costs will continue to go up and vouchers are unlikely to allow seniors and the disabled to buy health care insurance which adequately covers their needs. Health insurance companies already do a terrible job of covering those over forty on the individual market in their efforts to avoid covering people who actually need health care coverage. The insurance companies do not want to cover people with pre-existing conditions, and this applies to a very high percentage of those on Medicare. The one exception where private insurance companies have insured the Medicare population has been Medicare Advantage plans, but many companies have already left this market after the subsidies to care for these patients were reduced. It costs about twelve percent  more to cover people under private Medicare Advantage plans than in the government plan, showing how the private insurance industry is a poor alternative to the Medicare program.

Koch-Financed Climate Skeptic Found That Global Warming Is Real

It would seem to be a risky idea to have a global warming denier conduct a study as to whether global warming is occurring, but it would be a great idea if the skeptic could be trusted to be honest in reporting the results. A team at Berkley attempted to debunk the scientific consensus on climate change but even their review of the data so far finds the same results as other scientists studying the question. The Los Angeles Times reports:

A team of UC Berkeley physicists and statisticians that set out to challenge the scientific consensus on global warming is finding that its data-crunching effort is producing results nearly identical to those underlying the prevailing view.

The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project was launched by physics professor Richard Muller, a longtime critic of government-led climate studies, to address what he called “the legitimate concerns” of skeptics who believe that global warming is exaggerated.

But Muller unexpectedly told a congressional hearing last week that the work of the three principal groups that have analyzed the temperature trends underlying climate science is “excellent…. We see a global warming trend that is very similar to that previously reported by the other groups.”

The hearing was called by GOP leaders of the House Science & Technology committee, who have expressed doubts about the integrity of climate science. It was one of several inquiries in recent weeks as the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to curb planet-heating emissions from industrial plants and motor vehicles have come under strenuous attack in Congress.

The study was financed by the the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation after the claims by global warming deniers that the hacked emails in the Climategate non-scandal cast doubt upon temperature data. This study is consistent with the reviews of Climategate which found there was nothing there to discredit climate change.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“Sarah Palin said on Fox News that we are in a ‘squirmish’ with Libya. When she was corrected, she said, ‘Listen, I shouldn’t be expected to get everything 100 percent Accura.'” –Conan O’Brien

She can see an Accura dealer from her house.

Quote of the Day

“If Moammar Gadhafi goes into exile, there are only three places that would tolerate a raving madman like that: Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Fox News.” –Jay Leno