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Chris Matthews’ Mediscare Won’t Work

April 12th, 2011 at 12:30 pm | 27 Comments |

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On Monday’s  Hardball with Chris Matthews, buy viagra the host made a claim that the Paul Ryan bill would “kill half the people who watch this show.”

Big claim. Yet Matthews own words were refuted earlier in the discussion.  After the panel agreed that Ryan’s bill should “scare seniors” guest Howard Fineman acknowledged that “at the same time, decease it exempts 55 and over, so it’s going to really annoy younger people who are going to at some point get — supposed to get the Medicare benefits – [those] 40 to 55…”

I’m 43, so this affects my age group the most. But if I were a senior, I would rest easy for, as the panel admitted, seniors are exempt from any changes in Medicare under Ryan’s plan.  So why then is Matthews so adamant it should scare seniors?  To scare those who vote the most even though they have no dog in the fight?

Fineman added: “all the changes are going to be for those younger people. So they’re the ones who ultimately will get screwed.”  That’s me again.  The freak-out-grandma tactic will not avert the unavoidable cuts to social programs that are nonetheless bankrupting this nation.

What’s interesting to me is that Matthews, again in an attempt to defend Medicare, offers a nugget that goes to the very heart of why the program must be reformed:  “[Medicare recipients] don’t have to save $20 million so they can pay for their medical expenses when they get older, right, which are going to get more costly as they get older.”  No, because I’m paying for it, as this April 15th will remind me yet again.  But how can long can this continue?  And it’s this inherent unsustainability (that Matthews unintentionally alludes to by citing increased costs) that should be scaring everyone.

Call it a matter of principle versus principal:

The Hardball host says: “The federal government promised that back in the 1960s, that they would take care of people who have worked their whole life for their medical costs.”  True enough. But that was nearly fifty years ago.  It was a promise based upon faulty actuarials and bogus assumptions and now, after decades of kicking the can down the road, the bill has finally come due.

Nowhere was it promised that for someone who retired today having put in on average $114,000 into Medicare, that $355,000 in average benefits would be coming their way… and paid for by an ever more squeezed generation of younger taxpayers who’ve fatalistically accepted that they’ll be lucky to see a dime of their confiscated income when they turn sixty-five — scared or not.


Recent Posts by Brad Schaeffer



27 Comments so far ↓

  • Watusie

    You can’t use Chris Matthews’ famous lack of a brain-mouth filter to camouflage the fact that the Ryan plan is a horror show. And it doesn’t reform Medicare – it abolishes it.

    Or, to phrase it slightly differently: the Ryan Plan is daft. Chris Matthews then said something daft about it. So what? The Ryan Plan is still daft.

    • Smargalicious

      Matthews is indeed a liberal whack job. However, if we don’t follow Ryan’s plan, we will collapse.

      Perhaps the economic and social apocalypse that will follow is needed.

  • ottovbvs

    Ok so Matthews hyped it a bit. This is unusual for cable tv show hosts? But does the Ryan plan involve the scrapping of Medicare as we know. Undoubtedly. At the moment the average out of pocket share of costs for Medicare recipients is 20-25%. Under Ryan’s plan this rises to 70%. Imagine a few medical procedures that are common amongst the over 65′s: prostate surgery, colonoscopies, hysterectoies, hip replacements, heart bypasses. The costs of these procedures range from $5-70,000. The effect of this will be to pauperize not only most Medicare recipients but also their families who will have to chip in to save mom and dad. Of course if they don’t chip in then Matthews is probably right. Ryan’s Medicare will kill half the people watching his show.

  • RLHotchkiss

    If I where 55 right now I would be pretty terrified. What do you think will happen when the first retirees retire with the reduced benefits? How easy will it be for the Republicans to have cut taxes yet again and say we are headed for another ecconomic catastrophy because older retirees are receiving benefits that no one else will receive.

    • LauraNo

      I’m 53 and I’m not terrified, I’m really, really pissed off. And I’m going to be much more so if they do succeed in eliminating Medicare.

  • ottovbvs

    [i]Nowhere was it promised that for someone who retired today having put in on average $114,000 into Medicare, that $355,000 in average benefits would be coming their way…[i]

    Btw Schaeffer actually give the game away in his last para with the above statement. He admits that retirees ON AVERAGE are going to have to find $241,000 of costs themselves. And this is the average so for half of seniors it’s going to be between this figure and half a million dollars. Result pauperization for 90% of Americans who will die without adequate care or have to move in with the kids.

  • Elvis Elvisberg

    “But how can long can this continue?”

    Indefinitely, as it has the past 50 years, if we address rising health care costs.

    Remember, the US pays twice as much as the CBO average on health care, for not-any-better results. And as the CBO has said, “The bulk of that projected
    increase in health care spending [for Medicare & Medicaid] reflects higher costs per beneficiary rather than an increase in the number of beneficiaries associated with an aging population.” And Medicare does a better job reining in costs than private health insurance.

    Addressing our system-wide health care cost spiral crisis solves the problem. The experience of other countries suggests that single-payer health insurance might be the best way forward, but I’d be glad to hear other ideas.

    Matthews might be wrong about some older beneficiaries right now, but he’s right about the big picture. Ryan dodges the cost issue, simply saying, “you’re on your own.” It’s immoral, it’s never going to happen, and it’s a gutless way to avoid the larger issue.

  • Slide

    Sorry to disagree with you, but any change in Medicare will be opposed by the elderly, I don’t care if the changes affect them or not. Just look at how privatizing Social Security went.

  • Stan

    I don’t think the Ryan plan would kill older people. It would bankrupt them, though, and the country. Why is it so hard for people to understand that Medicare is an efficient way to pay for health care? Its administrative costs are low, and it has enormous bargaining power in negotiating fees for medical services? Ryan’s plan doesn’t begin to compete.

  • politicalfan

    If a person is relying on medicare to get their medication, sure it would scare them. This is a non partisan issue!
    http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparecat.jsp?cat=6

  • balconesfault

    Out of curiousity … how many of the 30-somethings and 40-somethings who are having to “support Medicare” have parents who are getting care/medications via Medicare?

    How would their financial decision making change if suddenly Mom’s ailment required them to talk to her about putting the family home up for reverse mortgage in order to pay for treatment, or even comprehensive insurance?

    What happens when some family faces the inevitable – last options for paying for treatment include raiding the kids college fund, or taking out a second mortgage … or just deciding that maybe keeping Dad alive is just too costly?

    Nobody should be ignoring that these are realities that many Americans will need to deal with.

    This isn’t about empowering middle-class Americans to save for their own medical care during retirement – this is about getting the wealthiest Americans off the hook for paying for medical care for the poor and middle class.

    At least Brad and the GOP should be honest about their intentions.

    • ottovbvs

      Well this is it of course. Mom or pop have a life threatening illness what are their kids going to do? They’re going dig deep or sell mom’s house to pay for it. Schaeffer is cheerfully talking about seniors picking up 350k of health costs when for 80% of American retirees their SS payments constitute over 50% of their income and for 50% of retirees it’s 100% of their income. It don’t compute.

  • NRA Liberal

    You’ve said all that needs to be said abour Brave Sir Ryan’s plan, balconesfault.

    The TOP (say it out loud) represents people who believe that taxation is theft and that it’s best to kill ‘em all, and let the market sort em out.

    They want to wreck the New Deal, ( preferably in the most painful and destructive way possible–in order to pay back the parasites for 70 years of theft.)

  • Telly Davidson

    All good comments (and for the record, I’m not a fan of the Ryan Reccommendations, either). But while we’re playing ‘what-if’ and asking hypothetical questions, what should be done to sustain Medicare with an aging population and a shrinking (and insecure, outsourcing/downsizing era) globalized worker base? Or about a population of cynical 20- and 30-somethings who think that the very idea that Medicare and SS (as we know them today) might still be there for them when they retire (at what — 70? 75?) is a joke?

    One note for those who think that SS/Medi reform is just speaking-in-code for Tea Party-ism: Years before Paul Ryan ever set foot in a Congressional office, from the time I was in junior high, I can remember riffing through (in my grandfather’s Newsweeks) economist Robert J. Samuelson. Here’s a recap of every other Samuelson column of the last 15-20 years:

    1993: (the bottom of the early ’90s recession): “Our biggest problem is Social Security and Medicare! They must be cut back or we won’t survive!”
    1999: (the height of the “recession-proof” 1997-2008 boom): “It’s all about Social Security and Medicare! We must slash them NOW or we won’t survive!”
    2009: “It’s all about Social Security and Medicare! They must be cut back or we won’t survive!”

    • ottovbvs

      Focussing on Medicare/Medicaid because that’s where the major expenditures are required. The key problem is the cost of providing care because you have a medical delivery system that is incentivized to drive up costs. This at bottom is why our peer group can all provide universal access systems at half the price of ours. Overlaying this vast profit seeking machine at the delivery end you have a private sector funding system that is constantly rent seeking.

  • Unsympathetic

    If Ryan wants to eliminate Medicare for those of us under 55, he can also eliminate that tax on those of us who will never see a dime of it. Those tax dollars will be achieved for the over-55 crowd by increasing the personal and corporate taxes on the upper class back to the Eisenhower levels.

  • hisgirlfriday

    The immediate cuts to MediCAID in Ryan’s budget will affect the elderly. Often elderly folks are disabled and living on fixed income. When you’re 80 years old, you’re not just having to worry about insurance to cover doctors visits. You may need home nurses or may need to live in a nursing home. These things are covered by MediCAID.

  • Rob_654

    1) Because just like Conservatives did during the last health care debate – lying is a great way to get people scared and come over to your side.

    2) Because more than enough people are ignorant and will believe what they see on TV – as we all know.

    3) Because as particularly Conservatives like to play it – there is the Slippery Slop argument and once changes in Medicare start – and as they become more palatable there is always the chance that the next step could be decreasing benefits for the old folks, particularly if the younger folks get mad enough to start voting in larger numbers to say “Sorry, but don’t hang all of this one me”.

  • baw1064

    1. What are the demographics of Matthews’ audience, anyway? It seems likely that most of the audience is under 55, so “scaring grandma” is irrelevant (she’s watching Glenn Beck).

    2. Why should people over 55 get a pass anyway? I understand not changing the rules for people who are already on Medicare. but what is someone who is 52 supposed to do that someone who is 56 is unable to?

    3. The real way to cut medical costs is to deregulate the supply. If we could import medical care from anywhere in the world, I guarantee the price will go down.

  • JimBob

    Half of the people that watch Lardball die of boredom

  • Bebe99

    Its time to start taxing the jobs that have been sent overseas to cover Medicare. It only makes sense, if Americans can’t find work that will pay the taxes, then we need to tax the workers in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, China et al, those who are currently benefiting from their employment by American-owned multi-national employers. We can call it Medicare tax or tariffs, whatever, but the tax needs to be collected. Because those under 55 already know how much private health insurance costs and it is at least 10 times more than Medicare premiums. Yes, check it out, if you can. In my state of Texas insurance companies WON’T write a policy for someone over 65. It can’t be bought. Texas can’t be the only state with this situation. I’d like to hear Ryan’s response to that situation!

    • Bunker555

      Get out of Texas real fast and move to Bangladesh, China, or wherever. Perry is taking you good ole’ boys and girls look like buffoons. Ya’ll come.

  • Danny_K

    You’re 43, you don’t mind that under the Ryan plan you’ll work the rest of your life to support the unlimited medical bills of people only 12 years older than you? You’ll get old and retire and get pitiful benefits and the economy will still be working hard to support people who were lucky enough to be 55 and get in under the wire. That’s generational warfare and slavery.

    I don’t think you’ll like it; I think you’ll resist and enthusiastically support bills that would cut back on benefits for Baby Boomers. And that’s why grandma should be nervous — once the Ryan bill has cut Medicare in half and turned half of it into a voucher program, the other half will be living on borrowed time.

    Look, whatever you think about the case, if Chris Matthews is talking about this killing Medicare and killing the elderly already, before the full bill’s come out, it’s only going to get worse from here. The Ryan plan is a poisoned chalice. I bet 6 months from now it will be as dead as Compassionate Conservatism, the Freedom Agenda, and the manned mission to Mars.

  • TJ Parker

    “Mediscare won’t work!!!!”

    LOL. But the 2010 elections prove that it will!

    Heck, in 2010 the GOP made a gift look like a turd via Mediscare. How much harder could it possibly be to use it to make a turd look like a turd?