I hope your Thanksgiving was quiet and filled with joy. It was not so quiet on the “economics of aging” front. Perhaps due to the fact that many were otherwise occupied, two news articles quietly appeared that should be of concern to us all. This is part of Jewish Sacred Aging’s desire to look at proposed changes in health care in the next administration. As we mentioned in a previous blog, this issue will impact not only us , but our children. It seems that we need to look out for what is being called “Premium Support”, which, according to some analyses, is the latest code language for an attempt to privatize Medicare.
“House G.O.P Expected To Seek Key Changes in Way Medicare Works” by Robert Pear, was published on Friday November 25 New York Times (p. A 15). Pear outlines the desire to “shift Medicare away from its open-ended commitment to pay for medical services toward a fixed government contribution for each beneficiary”. The article cites a previous idea from Paul Ryan that would have Medicare beneficiaries “buy health insurance from one of a number of competing plans. The traditional Medicare program would compete directly with plans offered by private insurers…”
The next day, November 26th, in an on-line article from The Fiscal Times, by Eric Pianin entitled “GOP Cuts in Medicare May Be Next after Dismantling Obamacare”, there is a quote from Rep. Tom Price of Georgia citing his statement to reporters that “the House GOP will likely push next year for major changes and cuts in Medicare, the premier health care program for 57 million seniors that has been the bedrock of retirees’ health coverage since the mid 1960s. Price is chair of House Budget Committee and has been mentioned as head of Health and Human Services. The Pianin article went on to cite Price’s statement that he expects to begin implementing the plan within the first six to eight months of the new administration. “Key elements include raising the retirement age of eligibility from 65 to 67 and gradually privatizing the system with government issued vouchers or “premium supports” to defray cost of insurance policies purchased on the open market.”
These plans raise, as I am sure you can imagine, a host of questions. How many people do any of us know who are able and competent to, on their own, make these decisions about costs? Again, as we have written before, this issue may be “the” social justice issue for our generation for the next few years, as it has the potential to impact several generations. Jewish Sacred Aging urges you to monitor this issue as we are sure that, as time passes, it will yield increased publicity and concern from a wide variety of parties.
Rabbi Richard F Address