Sunday, November 20, 2016

Medicare Is Vital for the Middle Class, and Not Just for Seniors

People think, I suppose rightly, that Medicare is for those aged 65 and above. But its benefits accrue to people of all ages (and not just the disabled).

A family home. It can be yours, if mom and pop don't go broke first.

You're only as good as your latest catastrophe. I think I just made that up, but truer words were never spoken.

So let's imagine a USA without Medicare. Instead of healthy parents and grandparents fully covered against medical bankruptcy, yours are flat broke, with medical bills still piling up. What's your own future like?

You were doing fine, or at least okay. You got married last year, and starting a family sounded nice. Living on one income would be a stretch for a while but worth it to have that family both of you want. Better, though, that you bought a house now, big enough for a couple of kids.

Then dad got pretty sick, needed heart surgery, then relapsed, needed another operation. He's pulled through all right, but his medication is pretty expensive and he needs continuing care. Mom called and said they were worried about losing their house.

You're a good son (or daughter), and you couldn't just let their lives fall apart. Where would they go? So you rent their place out, and your folks move in. Everybody fits, but just barely. You still think about buying a house, but you can't afford one that's big enough for kids and mom and dad. So why bother?

You decide it's a bad time to start a family. You certainly need two incomes right now, what with having to maintain your parents' health insurance. Can't let that lapse. Medicare was great until the Ryan Plan turned it into a voucher system and rising costs blasted right through the voucher value. The medigap plan that cost a pittance before now runs $1500 a month. And what with dad's shaky health, that insurance is all that's keeping him alive. And mom's meds aren't cheap either.

Okay, enough of the fantasy, but that's in fact what the reality will be if the Republicans blow a hole through Medicare as they plan to now that Trump's in charge.

Medicare is not just about keeping mom and pops alive longer. It's about the older generation not being a burden weighing down the dreams of the younger ones. It means freedom from worry for the middle class, so you can even be middle class.

Josh Marshall makes the reality pretty clear in this post:
[...] Medicare is a hugely important and hugely successful social insurance program for tens of millions of Americans and Republicans aim to repeal it in about six to eight months using a mix of bamboozlement, word play and lies. When I say tens of millions I am speaking of current beneficiaries. But assuming the program is not abolished the overwhelming majority of us will be beneficiaries in the future. Less appreciated is the way Medicare protects money that goes to buying homes and raising children from being spent on the health care of indigent, bankrupted parents. These intergenerational benefits are under-appreciated but profound. If Medicare is abolished in 2017 it will be a calamity.
[...] The final point should be the most obvious. Donald Trump won the presidency promising to defend the economic interests of ordinary people from the 'crooked' elite on Wall Street and in Washington. Whether or not he believes or believed that he has rapidly allied himself with the Paul Ryan privatizers who want to eviscerate the federal programs which are the bedrock of the American middle class. Social Security and Medicare are at the top of that list. If you look at the faces in the crowds at Trump's most poisonous speeches I guarantee that you that very few of those people thought they were voting to lose their Medicare.
So as we move into the next administration, watch out for that bamboozlement Josh is talking about. Ryan has already laid the foundation last week, declaring that Obamacare weakened Medicare -- when it actually strengthened it and extended it -- so he's got to fix it. No he doesn't, and, no, he doesn't intend to. He wants to privatize it, meaning adding a profit stream that will stop it from being affordable.

Don't let it happen, and fight tooth and nail. And let your congresspeople know where you stand.

Don't worry, Medicare's got dad's surgery covered -- for now.

No comments:

Post a Comment