Medicare, Medicaid, and the Fiscal Cliff

Do you remember all that talk about a “balanced” approach?  Well, The Hill reports that Senate Health Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) said Thursday that Medicare and Medicaid should be off the table during talks on the fiscal cliff.

Let’s be clear: liberals’ have absolutely no desire to decrease spending.  They oppose any real reforms and cuts to social programs as a means of reducing the deficit because they supposedly want to protect the disabled, the elderly and the poor.  The implicit suggestion is that conservatives simply want to slash these programs and hurt grandma.  Of course, that is a gross oversimplification of the plans conservatives have put forth to reform entitlements, which are intended to make Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security viable in the long run.

But under the guise of being nice and protecting certain groups of people from the big, bad conservatives, the liberals are actually stalling a process of reform that is absolutely and indisputably essential for future generations to receive one iota of help from social programs. 

Heritage’s Robert E. Moffit and Alyene Senger explain:

“Medicare must undergo structural reform. Its deficiencies undercut patients’ comprehensive and integrated care while increasing costs and generating debt. Medicare’s inadequate benefit package causes big gaps in coverage, requiring patients to buy costly supplemental insurance. Its outdated administrative payment system routinely overpays and underpays for benefits and services; such price distortions are worsened by narrow special-interest lobbying, an avalanche of red tape, and massive cost shifting to patients in private health plans.”

To be clear, reform is not optional; it is a must.  Moffit and Senger clearly state, “Today, Medicare enrollment and the demand for medical services is manageable.  Tomorrow it is not.”  With the massive population of baby boomers, 77 million people to be precise, there will be “unprecedented strains on Medicare’s creaky bureaucratic structure.”

If liberal politicians and self-serving special interest groups truly care about seniors, the poor, and the disabled, they will stop putting up roadblocks to conservative reforms to these programs.  One conservative recommendation for Medicare reform, premium support, which the liberals relentlessly and wrongly call vouchers, would be a step in the right direction.

Heritage explains:

“Replacing Obamacare with structural reform based on “premium support,” like the defined-contribution financing of Medicare Part D, would update Medicare’s insurance program and improve its financial condition, and it would also ensure access to better benefits and quality care for baby boomers and future generations.”

Conservatives have a firm grasp on what needs to be done to ensure Medicare is there for future generations.  Reform cannot and will not come during the lame duck, but we must push reform in the 113th Congress.

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