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Obamacare Cost Cutting

Seniors on the Chopping Block

by MARY LYNN CRAMER

Even at this late hour it seems progressives do not understand the goal of Obamacare. They keep repeating the mantra (on every “liberal” talk show from Democracy Now to NPR’s On Point) that the cuts in Medicare will only be from the “wasteful” programs like Medicare Advantage.

That’s right! Medicare Advantage: The plans that make Medicare affordable for most of us senior citizens. The original Medicare A & B do not begin to cover basic medical needs. I would be living in a shelter and begging on the streets if I had to depend on Medicare A & B or Medigap (the program that covers the 20% of costs not paid for by Medicare A&B) for my weekly medical expenses and doctor visits.

Progressives who think that “Medicare For All” is the same as Universal Single-Payer, are stuck behind their ideological blinders, swinging their swords at windmills and stabbing senior citizens in the back, all the while pretending they didn’t know low-income seniors are the targeted source of the $500 billion cost savings that Obama plans to root out of the "wasteful and fraudulent" Medicare Advantage program.

The health care plan being designed by Obama and his powerful friends will reduce the health care coverage of all of us to the same low standards and minimum coverage of the original Medicare.

Yes, we will have “Medicare For All,” the most inadequate and worthless coverage available: No coverage for physical exams, eye or hearing exams, hearing aids or glasses; no foot care or orthopedic shoes, no chiropractics, no dental care, etc., etc. (See my article “Progressives Abet Obama Fraud” in the Aug. 18, 2009 at Counterpunch.org). That is why that wise old man confronted Obama demanding that he “keep the government out of my Medicare Advantage.” Grampy had done his homework long before most of us.

The “Original Medicare (A&B)” and “Medigap” programs are subsidized by the federal government on a cost percentage (of severely limited medical services) in a one-plan-fits-all program. All the private providers of Medigap insurance must offer the same identical plan—which does not include any drug coverage— based on the very limited number of services covered in the Original Medicare. This Medicare Supplemental Insurance covers the 20% of costs of services in parts A & B that the Original Medicare does not pay for.

Not so with Medicare Advantage. Each private provider for Medicare Advantage gets a lump sum per enrollee/patient, and covers a wide range of services, with competitive low premiums, no deductibles, and each manages its own costs and programs. Let me be clear: I am for universal single-payer health care, as they have in France or Canada or at least what they have in England. There are many different ways to do single-payer involving both the private and public sector.

However, that is not what is on the President’s table! Obama has said repeatedly, there will be no ”Trojan Horse” opening the way for an eventual single-payer health plan. He means it, as you know. So progressives have to set their idealistic rhetoric aside and look at what is actually on the table being set for us by the largest drug and insurance corporations — waited upon by their front men in the White House and Congress. Don’t sacrifice the seniors for propaganda purposes.

MARY LYNN CRAMER, MA, MSW, LICSW, Senior Citizen, has a background in economics and clinical social work, and considerable personal experience with Medicare. She can be reached at mllynn2@yahoo.com