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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Republican Baby Boomers

Today's Maine weather was unseasonably warm. Our Topsham neighbors came out of hibernation to clean up the yard's winter kill. Enjoying a walk on paved roads absent ice patches is a rare March event in Maine.

My Republican neighbor stopped her yard raking to chat. Our conversation led to a discussion about retirement. At 64, she still needs to work to pay for health care insurance.

"Next year", I told her, "you will know how wonderful it is to have a government run health care plan. Medicare will cover you!"

She cringed, but said, "I hope Medicare is still around to cover me."

The rhetorical point of this blog is to ask: What is it about health care reform the Republicans simply don't get? My Republican neighbor has been paying for health care Medicare insurance throughout her working life. She doesn't know this is an earned entitlement.

Medicare is a quality government run health care plan. Providers complain about Medicare because, they claim, it doesn't pay them enough. What's enough? Margins are made based upon efficiency. If a physician or hospital is efficient, providing quality care while demonstrating clearly positive outcomes, the payments made over time will exceed the expense of providing the treatment. Medicare rates are one source of provider payments. Other sources in the payer mix are Managed Care, private insurance, Medicaid and private pay. Medicare beneficiaries are, by far, the largest users of the health care system. Aging baby boomers will continue to improve the efficiencies needed to generate Mediare margins to health care providers.

Meanwhile, the Medicare consumer has complete freedom to choose who they want for their provider.

Obviously, more Republicans need to turn 65 before the value of health care reform kicks in.

Senator John McCain, of course, has used a government run health care plan since he was born because his father was retired military. As a survivor of cancerous melanoma, Senator McCain shouldn't have any complaints about the government run health care he has received from being a retired Navy officer and a United States Senator.

Health insurance companies have spent many-many millions (some say a billion) dollars to defeat reform. What would have happened to Social Security or Medicare if powerful lobby groups were around in the 1930s or the 1960s?

My Republican neighbor might never be able to retire if Social Security in the 1930s and Medicare legislation in the 1960s had been put through the same devious media campaigns that health care reform is exposed to.

Powerful and well funded special interest groups have manipulated people into believing there is something sinister about providing quality and affordable health care coverage to everyone.

What's the solution? Aging.

When every Republican is over 65 years old - as they all march toward this inevitable developmental age - they will become consumers of a single payer government run health care program. Moreover, they will love it because the alternative is working until they die.

My neighbor said she dreads turning 65. What is her alternative?

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