(c) 2010-2024 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Republican Plan: Just End Medicare

This week, the Republicans will offer a proposal that ultimately would end Medicare involvement. The plain is simply end Medicare. The proposal outlined is outlined in the Wall Street Journal today.

"The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills. Mr. Ryan and other conservatives say this is necessary because of the program's soaring costs. Medicare cost $396.5 billion in 2010 and is projected to rise to $502.8 billion in 2016. At that pace, spending on the program would have doubled between 2002 and 2016."

Converting the program for coverage to the poor only would still not end the plans' involvement in workers' compensation and in fact may only increase it. The dichotomy between rich and poor will increase. The numbers of uninsured are growing as well as the working elderly.

It is anticipated that Medicare premium costs will continue to increase under the present plan and wealthy Americans will opt-out. This proposal will merely mean a universal opt-out plan leaving the Federal program strapped for cash. The premium base needs to be increased rather than diminished.

As Peter Rousmaniere, a noted workers' compensation commentator,  recently observed, the workers' compensation program has "leaks in the system."  Occupational disease claims will continue to be denied at increasing rates, and the cost shifting will merely be perpetuated from workers compensation  to the taxpayers. Just ending Medicare will not solve the problems with the Workers' Compensation medical delivery system.