Sunday, July 6, 2008

Medicare Recipients Are Not The Enemy

When the push for privatizing Medicare came along, the public was told not to worry. They were told that there would be minor adjustments as the program was handed over to the pack of hyenas that constitute the HMO community of private insurers. We were assured of the cost savings and the benefits of managed care. What they didn't tell you is that the entire scam was a lie.

By using the key catch phrase and talking point of 'bankruptcy', the fear mongers claim that the only way to save the program is to further cut the payments made to doctors and insurers. As July 1st passed and another 10% cut slipped by, right wingers of every stripe decried the cut as much too little and did some quick calculating that did not include revenue from the Medicare deduction taken from everyone's paychecks, and claimed a staggering $53 trillion dollar deficit for America's children. But if we examine how Medicare became mired in the mess it is in, we see the neo-con hand in the attempted destruction of yet another social safety net program designed to help the elderly, the poor, and the infirm.

The Republican controlled Congress of the 1990's forced through the first of the privatizations of Medicare by coming up with a set of numbers that declared the program would be broke by the year 2008. They claimed that the choice Americans faced was between an HMO run Medicare system, or no system at all. Going so far as to blatantly lie about how Americans felt about the idea, they claimed that the majority of Medicare recipients were absolutely thrilled at the idea of a more restrictive atmosphere as opposed to their traditional Medicare freedoms.

The evolving march to completing the process of handing over a government program to the private insurance industry has been the largest heist of taxpayer dollars in American history, but there are so many numbers involved, that no one wants to take notice. Leave it for the accountants to sort out everyone cries, and so, the insurance industry and their good fella buddies working the revolving door of government continue the scam. Why anyone continues to believe these liars is beyond comprehension, since what they are doing and claiming is so blatant, they may as well just walk up and spit in your face.

As with the privatization of Medicaid, the Medicare program now supplies LESS services for recipients with costs that are spiraling upwards. HMO's make bonus money for denying treatment to people who need it. They receive incentives to change a doctor's prescription or to deny it as 'experimental'. They over charge for services, and sometimes charge for services that are no longer being received. Even Medicare's own 1-800 number for recipients to report abuse and fraud is staffed in such a way that reported insurance company fraud gets swept under the rug. Basically, in a nutshell, they have taken the money that was to go towards people's health and given it to the insurance industry. An industry with an army of lobbyists, and an industry that donates substantial amounts to political campaigns.

Even as far back as 1996, a Congressional study called the Physician Payment Review Commission, showed that medicare recipients enrolled in HMO's were three times as likely to have problems gaining access to medical care compared to recipients on traditional Medicare. So what did the study do to change the minds of extremists determined to wipe out the poor and the elderly? Absolutely encouraged them to force everyone into an HMO and give their corporate sponsors even more billions of unearned dollars. They placed a middleman between every patient on Medicare and their doctors, and then quietly slipped the Medicaid program into the mix as well.

And so the game continues. Caught as pawns between political ideologies, the poor, the elderly, and the disabled must on many an occasion, choose between seeing their doctor or paying their rent. Eating dinner that night, or paying for a prescription. Fighting an HMO decision that denied them needed medical care, or just dying. Treated as the enemy by fanatics who have given almost the entire country away to foreign interests, run up deficits that can only be called obscene, and given tax cuts to the wealthiest of the wealthiest, they now tell you to believe their new deadline for the expiration of the Medicare program. They demand more cuts in programs in the areas of health, education, and even the Food Stamp program in order to extend the tax breaks given to multi-national corporations.

The recipients of assistance programs are not the enemy. The enemies of the People sit in the halls of Congress. The ones who are determined to turn every government program over to the corporations are the same ones enacting illegal legislation allowing for domestic spying, immunity for criminals, allowing for the outsourcing of American jobs, (and actually giving subsidies to corporations who ship them overseas), and failing to fix our infrastructure. Oh. And they are also the same ones who started a false war, then told veterans to eat cake when they returned home.

So you go ahead and believe the 'experts' who cry wolf over and over and over again. Go ahead and let the extremists destroy as much of the country as they can before election day. But when the time comes that one of the programs that was allowed to be cut is needed by you or a family member, remember the names of those who pushed for the decimation of domestic programs and who gave the entire store away to corporations. Then and only then, can you possibly understand who the true enemy is.

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