August 27, 2009
-- by Dave Johnson
The Republicans have shifted their attack on health care reform by claiming that it endangers Medicare. They have even introduced a new "Health Care Bill of Rights for Seniors" proposal to "protect Medicare." The Blue Dogs have stepped up their own attack, claiming that the costs are too high. The insurance industry flacks are claiming that at over 1000 pages the bill is too complex. Etc.
The Republicans and Blue Dogs have given us an opportunity here. This is the opening to introduce to the bill the idea of adding people to Medicare by phasing in age groups starting with the youngest and oldest at the same time.
Immediately lower age eligibility to 55 and immediately cover everyone up to 21. Every year add 5 eligibility years on each end so 2011 it would be up to 26 and down to 50, etc.
Someone in the Congress can add a few paragraphs called the "Save Medicare Clause" or something to the reform bills. Just say you are addressing the concerns of the Republicans and their new "Protect Medicare" demands, and the Blue Dogs concerns about costs. The cost reduction from adding the youngest balances the added costs of adding people who are older, and this lowers all the costs in the current plan from covering these people. And the costs of doing this is so much less than the cost of covering these people under the current reform plans that this greatly lowers the costs of the overall reform schemes.
How to fight for this? Simple: Answer anyone who says it is a "government takeover" Republican-style. Just say it isn't, that we're just adding them to Medicare. Then let the Republicans then explain to everyone that Medicare is a government program! I am sure we can find ways to answer every objection to this proposal using this kind of Republican-blunting argument. In fact it would be fun. The Blue Dogs say it is costly, just point out that it is much less costly than their own plan. And much less complicated. Medicare already exists, is already set up to cover millions and add millions every year, etc...
We can point out how this simplifies everything people are worried about in the reform fight. Everyone loves Medicare -- so much so that the Republicans are using Medicare as a club to kill this complicated and expensive health care reform scheme. So what the hell, give them what they want, while giving the people what they want at the same time.
This is an opportunity to achieve Ted Kennedy's and our own health care goals that we did not have at the start of this reform effort. The opponents have stirred people up so much and raised so many objections that everyone is looking for something simpole to get us out of this. "Medicare-For-All" answers every objection that the opponents of health care reform have raised.
Posted by Dave Johnson at August 27, 2009 8:41 AM
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