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Saturday, November 05, 2011

I'm starting to think we may have to eat the shit sandwich again after all
Posted by Jill | 4:07 PM
In case you thought that we might be able to survive four years of Mitt Romney:
Speaking at the Americans for Prosperity Foundation’s annual meeting, Mr. Romney said his plan would cap spending at 20 percent of gross domestic product by 2016, and would require $500 billion a year in spending cuts. To accomplish this, Mr. Romney explained, he would eliminate all nonessential government programs, including Amtrak, return federal programs like Medicaid entirely to the states and improve the productivity and efficiency of the federal government. He would also immediately cut all nonsecurity discretionary spending by 5 percent across the board.

Mr. Romney’s proposal for Medicare is similar to the hotly debated plan that Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, introduced in April. Mr. Ryan’s plan would replace Medicare and offer payments to older Americans to buy coverage from the private market.

Mr. Romney’s proposal would give beneficiaries the option of enrolling in private health care plans, using what he, like Mr. Ryan, called a “premium support system.” But unlike the Ryan plan, Mr. Romney’s would allow older people to keep traditional Medicare as an option. However, if the existing government program proved more expensive and charged higher premiums, the participants would be responsible for paying the difference.

He presented his plan as offering more choice — though younger Americans would need to be prepared to possibly pay more, for instance, depending on which plan they selected.

“Younger Americans today, when they turn 65, should have a choice between traditional Medicare and other private health care plans that provide at least the same level of benefits,” he said. “Competition will lower costs and increase the quality of health care.”

He concluded, “The future of Medicare should be marked by competition, by choice, and by innovation, rather than by bureaucracy, stagnation and bankruptcy.”

Yes, because health insurance companies are stumbling all over themselves to get your business, each one offering a better plan than the one before. And they're so innovative -- like the way they fight every claim just to see how long it'll take to wear you down before you stop fighting.

I've had a pretty decent health plan for Mr. Brilliant and I the last few years. We get it through my employer, so we're "only" paying about $3600 of the annual premium. It's got a $20 co-pay for preventive care, a $250 per person deductible, and covers 90% of "usual and customary" after that. Now "usual and customary" seems to be based on medical fees back in the days when Don Draper was taking little Sally to the pediatrician, but this plan has worked out OK for us.

So of course 2012 is the last year we'll have it.

After 2012, we'll be offered two plans -- an 80% plan with a low deductible, 80% coverage in-network and only 60% outside; or an high-deductible plan with an HSA. The difference in employee premiums is about $2000, so perhaps if I put that $2000 into the HSA along with the $500 the company will kick in, it'll offset most of the $2700 deductible for two people...assuming of course that we could pay for all $225 of your standard office visit out of the HSA, rather than the sixty bucks that in Insurance Delusionland is "usual and customary."

This is the world into which Mitt Romney wants to spill all the elderly. Oh he's making noise now about how there'll be a choice, but what senior citizen in his right mind would choose to try to buy an individual insurance policy instead of Medicare?

Keep in mind that Mitt Romney is worth a quarter of a BILLION dollars, and a health insurance premium is like lunch money to him.

And yet he and his buddies just can't kick even one more nickel apiece. Good heavens, no. After all, Mitt Romney worked so hard to get his money -- working hard to buy up companies, dismantle them, and throw their employees in the trash can. And the Koch brothers certainly shouldn't be asked to kick in anything else. After all, they're billionaires, which means they worked harder than we do, right? And the fact that they inherited their business from their father means nothing, right? How about the Walton children? They have $87 billion. And they made it by starting out as greeters, right? Hardly -- they inherited it from old Sam Walton. But they can't kick any more, can they? Not without extreme hardship.

After all, America has to be kept safe for the Walton children, and Prescott Bush's children, and George Romney's son, and Fred Trump's son, and so on.

And if that means that the poor and the sick and the elderly have to lay down and die, so be it.

So where does that leave us? Do we hold our noses and vote again for a President who's already shown that his futile, quixotic quest to be liked by a bunch of greedy, racist bigots is more important than anything to him? Do we stick with a bunch of corporatist Democrats who give lip service to the middle and working class but behind the scenes know full well that it's all over, and they're going to get their piece of the pie before it all goes to shit and the rest of us start killing each other for cans of baked beans?

In the past we could rely on Democrats to at least be the guardians of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, even if they sold us out on everything else. But thanks to the so-called "supercommittee", and Obama's willingness to let mandatory cuts kick in if this small group of intransigent Republians and sellout Democrats can't come up with a compromise (as if that were even possible), and this tendency they have to learn all the wrong lessons when they get clobbered and move even further to the right, it's hard to have any faith in them either.

So we're left with a choice -- we either let it all go to shit now, or have a few more tolerable years before it's all Mad Max.

Hardly what we had in mind in 2008, is it?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Nice work! Your feelings must be shared by many of us. Too bad we couldn't have a Dem primary to give us a little hope (without the audacity).

Blogger Kordo said...
I think I'll look kinda cute in ass-less leather chaps, personally. Can't wait to get one of those cool wrist-crossbow thingies, too. Not thrilled about the whole "raiding burned-out Walmarts for antibiotics and canned food" part; but if it keeps the Walton kids in high-end hookers and caviar, then I suppose I can make the effort.
I do wonder about the long-term, though. At some point, India & China & where-ever-the-hell-is-left will be exhausted, too, right? Seems like a lot of trouble to go to, if your only reward is your grandkids having the nicest room in the underground bunker...