walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

Protecting Medicare

http://www.niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=background.view&backgroundid=00552

This is a commentary piece from the "Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University".

It is a list of 6 specific actions that could be taken to protect and improve Medicare. I found it by googling "dual eligible", because I've decided that a lot of people confuse Medicare and Medicaid (which are really quite different in a lot of important ways), and seem to be absolutely unaware of "dual eligibles" as a category. Given how much of the cost of both programs is buried in this category of a little under 10 million people, failing to be aware of them leads to Really Stupid Ideas. People who _are_ aware of dual eligibles might have better ideas (that's the theory I'm exploring right now).

The ideas in this piece are simple and obvious: let Medicare negotiate drug prices, stop paying private Medicare plans more than traditional, add a drug benefit to traditional Medicare to keep people on the cheaper/more efficient side, make sure dual eligibles' drugs are handled the Medicaid way rather than the Medicare way (wow, that seems obvious), let people 55-65 buy into Medicare (thus including some less sick people and spreading the costs around more), implement the ACA.

I find nothing in that list of proposals to argue with. At all. If we could get out of heated arguments about cutting benefits and instead collect some of the low-hanging technical fruit, we'd be better off.

ETA: This opinion piece at Firedoglake

http://news.firedoglake.com/2011/06/11/joe-lieberman-wants-to-increase-medicare-eligibility-age/

critiques an op-ed by Lieberman, who is proposing roughly the opposite of everything mentioned in the Nieman piece above.

The "raise the eligiblity age" issue from 65 to 67 is addressed here:

http://theincidentaleconomist.com/wordpress/delaying-medicare-eligibility-is-bad-for-health/

Basically, some very good research has been done to compare people who become eligible for Medicare at 65 with a consistent history of health care coverage vs. those who have been uninsured prior to Medicare. As one would expect, delayed health care makes this group of people particularly expensive to Medicare once they are eligible. There are charts.

ETAYA:

Here's what KFF has to say about raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67:

http://www.kff.org/medicare/8169.cfm
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