... One of the proposals being negotiated behind closed doors — misleadingly described as
"cost containment" — would set a limit on Medicare's use of general revenue, and would require action seven years before
projections say that limit will be breached. ...
You might say it's a good idea to face up to Medicare's problems early. But the legislation would allow only two responses:
either an increase in the payroll tax (a regressive tax that bears more heavily on middle-class families than on the wealthy)
or benefit cuts. Other possibilities, like increases in other taxes or other spending cuts, would be ruled out. In short,
this is an attempt to pre-empt discussion of how we want to deal with Medicare's future and impose a solution reflecting a
Meanwhile, another proposal — to force Medicare to compete with private insurers — ... goes under the
name of "premium support." Medicare would no longer cover whatever medical costs an individual faced; instead, retirees would
receive a lump sum to buy private insurance. ...
But many studies predict that private insurers would cherry-pick the best (healthiest) prospects, leaving traditional Medicare
with retirees who are likely to have high medical costs. These higher costs would then be reflected in the extra payments
required to stay in traditional fee-for-service coverage. The effect would be to put health care out of reach for many older
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New York Times Company