Medicare’s real beneficiaries: Last week, a tribal discussion broke out, along predictably narrow lines.
Had Obama achieved 7 million insurance enrollments? Or was it really much less?
One tribal group kept saying, “Much less.” Within the other tribal group, a multimillionaire and his trusted companions signed up for the role of the clowns:
MATTHEWS (4/3/14): For months, conservative critics have predicted the total failure of the president’s health care law. So when the president announced this week the law had enrolled over seven million people into the health care exchanges, did they react with some humility or at least some acceptance? Not quite.“Truthers?” In fact, we don’t know what the actual number is at this time, or how many of such people will be newly insured.
VAN SUSTEREN: You have said “cooking the books,” the administration. Do you stand by that?
BARRASSO: I do. We still don’t know how many people who have gone to the Web site to sign up actually paid.
JINDAL: We don’t even know what those numbers mean. We don’t know how many of those folks actually paid the premiums.
CRUZ: Well, look, the numbers are a bit of funny math, because they’re giving you numbers of who signed up. Those numbers don’t reflect, number one, who actually bought insurance and paid their first month’s premium.
MATTHEWS: What can you say about these guys, besides they are health care enrollment truthers right now?
Joan Walsh is editor at large at Salon and an MSNBC political analyst, and Michelle Bernard is the president of the Bernard Center for Women.
Nor does it gigantically matter in the longer run. But fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly—and tribal acolytes are going to argue the narrowest current point.
A larger point about our health care “system” was on the front page of yesterday’s New York Times. Abelson and Cohen reported some sobering Medicare facts.
Hard-copy headlines included:
ABELSON AND COHEN (4/9/14): Medicare Opens Its Books On Doctors and PaymentsHere’s how this fits into the larger discussion which never occurs within our clown-run press corps:
One Physician Got $21 Million in 20012—Dozens More Were Paid Millions
A tiny fraction of the 880,000 doctors and other health care providers who take Medicare accounted for nearly a quarter of the roughly $77 billion paid out to them under the federal program, receiving millions of dollars each in some cases in a single year, according to the most detailed data ever released in Medicare’s nearly 50-year history.
In 2012, 100 doctors received a total of $610 million, ranging from a Florida ophthalmologist who was paid $21 million by Medicare to dozens of doctors, eye and cancer specialists chief among them, who received more than $4 million each that year. While more money by far is spent for routine office visits than any other single expenditure, one of the most heavily reimbursed procedures—costing a total of $1 billion for 143,000 patients—is for a single treatment for an eye disorder common in the elderly.
Last week, Barasso, Jindal and Cruz were saying that the number will be smaller than 7 million. Chris, Joan and Michelle knew how to reply:
Barrasso, Jindal and Cruz are racists, these tribal clowns pleasingly said.
Handed this simple-minded fare, we liberals grow slow and clueless. With that in mind, let’s discuss what we liberals often say about “single payer” or “Medicare for all.”
Routinely, we suggest that single-payer would be the answer to the inordinate costs involved in our American health care. As yesterday’s front-page report suggests, it tain’t necessarily so.
You could create a single-payer system which was absurdly costly. Our country may already have such a system—Medicare itself!
Question: Have you ever seen statistics which show how much we spend per person on health care, as compared to other countries, for people over 65?
We’ve never seen those statistics, although they may well exist. Let’s just say you won’t likely see them watching the jugglers and the clowns on The One True Liberal Channel.
We’ll take a guess—those statistics would show that we spend much more per person, in that age group, than other developed nations. Yesterday’s front-page report did little to make us think otherwise.
Watching Matthews throw R-bombs about will do little to make liberals smarter. (On the bright side, it helps him het richer.) It won’t teach us how our society actually works—and it won’t teach us how to reach out to the wider population to address the obvious looting which drives these gruesome statistics:
Health care spending, per person, 2011:Compared to France, $4400 per person was disappearing into the maws of our health care “system.” That’s $4400 per person!
United States: $8508
United Kingdom: $3405
That’s money that disappears from wages. For a family of four, multiply by something resembling 4.
(Liberals and conservatives alike are getting looted this way.)
You’ll never hear this from Matthews and Walsh. Matthews and Walsh are looting you too.
Matthews and Walsh are playing a game. The name of their game is “Don’t Care.”