new $2,000 Medicare deductible?

robbing tomorrow's seniors to pay for today's tax cuts

By
healthinsurance.org founder

Republican senate hopeful Rand Paul, speaking on FOX News Sunday, suggested that in the near future, seniors should pick up of the first $2,000 of medical expenses that are currently paid for by Medicare. It was no off-the-cuff remark – Paul’s opponent has released a video showing him advancing this idea before a number of groups.

While some may applaud Paul’s proposal as fiscal responsibility, we condemn it as the exact opposite: more of the same “live-in-the-moment” nonsense that brought the Baby Boom generation dual-income households, permanent credit card debt and home equity loans that have families living so far beyond their means that they pine away for those nostalgic paycheck-to-paycheck days.

Because if Paul’s plan is to use this plan to offset the cost of extending the Bush tax cuts – including those for the super wealthy – it’s simply more of the snake oil we’ve so often been sold.

Why even talk  about cutting Medicare benefits? Recently passed health care reforms actually extended the viability of the current Medicare program through 2029, and reduce overall costs for the next 75 years, according to the bi-partisan Medicare Trustees’ annual report. There is no immediate crisis to fix, although certainly tweaks will need to continue to keep the program solvent.

Will Paul’s plan make Medicare more solvent? No, it would put cash in people’s pockets today, shifting the burden down the road to tomorrow’s seniors. Well guess what fellow Boomers, those future seniors are you.

What is it with us Baby Boomers? Are we missing the “delay of gratification” gene? Did growing up on the hyper-stimulation of Sesame Street and MTV destroy our attention spans? What else could be the cause of our repeated attempts to rob from our future selves?

People mistakenly believe that Medicare is a social covenant between the government and seniors, but it’s actually between the government and workers. That small amount deducted from each paycheck guarantees that you will have health care and dignity when you reach retirement age. If you think $2,000 is hard to come up with now, wait until you’re on Social Security (another target of the “live-for-today-not-for-tomorrow” crew).

Fellow Boomers, its time to pay the piper. We need to elect leaders who can see farther ahead than the next election. It was refreshing to see the Dems to start the long process of health care reform this last year, although we’ll be the ones paying the price is we punish them at the polls for acting like responsible adults.

We’ve fought two foreign wars for a decade, without any financial sacrifices from those of us sitting safely at home,. When else in history have we ever done such a thing? Do we want to go back to this same voodoo fiscal management that brought us to the brink of disaster two years ago?

No, we don’t. We need to draw a line in the sand on Medicare. No more dismantling our future for today’s short-term and fleeting needs.

To paraphrase Charleton Heston, you can have my Medicare benefits when you pry them “from my cold dead hands.” Because up until then, I’ll need them.

October 14, 2010

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