Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bush balances budget on backs of the elderly

By Libby Spencer

So let me get this straight. We're in a health care crisis in this country. Almost 50 million Americans can't afford health insurance and Bush recently told us that it's not a problem because anyone can go to the ER for critical care. We'll leave aside that this still leaves millions without the ability to get preventive care that would keep them out of the ER in the first place.

Now comes Bush with his budget proposal designed to cure the deficit he created by 2012 and how does he propose to do that? Our compassionate conservative came up with the brilliant plan to cut billions in spending from the two programs that assist those who have to rely on near death experiences in the ER for their health care, namely Medicare and Medicaid.

The cuts won't be made to corporate welfare payments to private insurers who offer overpriced supplemental plans. No, he wants to slice the guts out of the safety net that the poor literally rely on to stay alive. He proposes to kill Medicare by cutting already inadequate reimbursements further.

Most of the Medicare savings in the budget would be achieved by reducing the annual update in federal payments to hospitals [especially teaching hospitals], nursing homes, hospices, ambulances and home care agencies.

So I guess the plan is that the elderly and the poor are supposed to wait until their health has critically failed to go to ERs that won't exist because hospitals will fail without proper reimbursement, which will solve the problem of the doctor shortage since there won't be there any place for them to practice. I don't know if Bush has come up with one of those pithy Orwellian names for this proposal, but I think I'm going to call it the Genocide Budget. I can't think of more accurate description.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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  • As if Bush cares about the elderly -- except the ones who voted for Buchanan in 2000 and handed the election to him. His idea of health care, for example, is to let HMOs and insurance companies screw everyone for profit, and that means the elderly disproportionately.

    Besides, it's not like Bush has to worry. He's got The Carlyle Group to take care of him in his later years.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 1:51 PM  

  • I have this dream that somehow karma will kick him in the ass and he'll have to rely on Medicare in his own golden years. That would be justice.

    By Blogger Libby Spencer, at 2:25 PM  

  • With any luck, this budget won't be passed.

    I'm an administrator at a nonprofit assisted living facility that serves 65 elderly adults. More than 50% of our residents are on the Medicaid program, and we rely heavily on Medicaid payments as a source of income. Doing so allows us to remain affordable so that more and more older adults can access the assisted living they need during a time when assisted living is becoming increasingly expensive.

    The sad fact is that a cut in Medicaid is going to result in huge problems not only for today's older adult population, but for any person or facility responsible for a senior's care.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:14 PM  

  • Personally, I support the old Soylent Green approach. As you may recall, to avoid all of the problems and expenses associated with old age, at a certain point, people were required to submit to a gentle and painless death. Their bodies were then processed into much needed protein wafers to feed the young.
    This approach takes care of the Medicaid problem, drugs for the aged, even Social Security. I'm surprised it has not been drawn up in a bill yet. Perhaps in the next Republican administration.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:34 PM  

  • Erika, that seems to be his plan. The inhumanity of his proposal is just stunning.

    Brian - I assume that was meant to be snark.

    By Blogger Libby Spencer, at 10:06 AM  

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