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The $34 trillion problem[Medicare]
Fortune Magazine ^ | 04 Mar 2008 | Geoff Colvin

Posted on 03/04/2008 2:10:48 PM PST by BGHater

Medicare is poised to wreak havoc on the economy. And our presidential candidates are avoiding the issue.

Twice I have asked Alan Greenspan what he considers the greatest threat to the U.S. economy, and both times he has answered immediately with a single word: Medicare. He isn't so worried about the trade deficit and the housing crash; he figures market forces will sort them out. But Medicare is something else - a multitrillion-dollar problem that's about to get dramatically worse, and one that nobody wants to talk about. You'd think that the greatest threat to America's economy would be Topic A for the presidential candidates. But it's actually a topic they hate to touch.

Especially now. An analysis of their speeches shows that last year Senators Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Barack Obama would occasionally mention the Medicare mess. But recently, with the economy slowing and voters feeling insecure, all three candidates have turned more populist: Their economic talking points are about feel-good reassurances, not about facing hard realities.

(Excerpt) Read more at money.cnn.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Editorial; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: economy; healthcare; hillary; medicare; obama; politics; trillion; universal
'If this is the greatest threat to the U.S. economy and the candidates haven't told us what they'd do about it, they haven't told us a thing.'
1 posted on 03/04/2008 2:10:51 PM PST by BGHater
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To: BGHater

Hey just take the Obama approach.

“Well, if Lyndon Johnson hadn’t lied us into Medicare in the 1960s, we wouldn’t have Medicare, and we wouldn’t be facing a multi-trillion dollar problem now.” Cheers and whistles, end of problem!

oh wait...


2 posted on 03/04/2008 2:15:18 PM PST by TenthAmendmentChampion (Global warming is to Revelations as the theory of evolution is to Genesis.)
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To: BGHater

But there are Americans who don’t have healthcare! *sc Democrats are sooo compassionate that they don’t care how much is spent on healthcare, unless it is a Republican spending it. And then it isn’t enough.


3 posted on 03/04/2008 2:15:52 PM PST by oneamericanvoice (Support freedom! Support the troops! Surrender is not an option!)
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To: BGHater
'If this is the greatest threat to the U.S. economy and the candidates haven't told us what they'd do about it, they haven't told us a thing.'

Oh yes they have. They've told us they're going to make it bigger.

4 posted on 03/04/2008 2:16:08 PM PST by Carry_Okie (There are people in power with desire for evil.)
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To: BGHater

I don’t know what everyone is worried about. I am forced to take a paycheck home every two weeks. Do I really need that money? Can I be trusted with it? I think Govt. is taking too much risk by allowing average American to take home 60% of their money.

President Hillary Klinton would reduce the risk for Govt. and help all the misguided souls who waste their money. She would keep it and ditribute it properly.

Problem Solved!

Just in case there is still an issue, Vice President Obama will write mind blowing speeches, poems and songs and send recorded messages to every old and disabled. That would lift their spirits, and we all live happily ever after!


5 posted on 03/04/2008 2:18:02 PM PST by The_Republican (You know why Chelsea Clinton is so Ugly? Because Janet Reno is her Father! LOL! - Mac is Back!)
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To: Carry_Okie

The best is the ludicrous proposal oft heard from the leftist/wacko fringe “why don’t we just loosen the restrictions on Medicare, so that everyone qualifies?”


6 posted on 03/04/2008 2:19:34 PM PST by Wally_Kalbacken (Seldom right but never in doubt)
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To: BGHater

They have told us. Nationalized health care. What they haven’t told you is the other side of that coin. Rationed health care.


7 posted on 03/04/2008 2:19:54 PM PST by saganite
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To: BGHater

We’re not worth it. We start out confused, get off track, and end wondering what that was.


8 posted on 03/04/2008 2:20:00 PM PST by RightWhale (Clam down! avoid ataque de nervosa)
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To: BGHater

Medicare is a mess BECAUSE the government has never managed it, just like our borders and illegals. They are malfeasant. If they begun working with the medical industry back then, instead of just paying whatever the medical industry wanted them to pay, things would be different now. The non-management of Medicare is one of the biggest reasons health care is so over-priced today. The industry got used to a government that did not care how much money it was throwing down the well into the medical industry. HMOs and PPOs were spawned on the extreme amount of money flowing in the medical system.

How did we ever survive back in the days when we could afford to pay our own medical bills??


9 posted on 03/04/2008 2:20:27 PM PST by EagleUSA
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To: The_Republican

Yeah and McCain would make sure we have millions of unskilled workers to add to the entitlement/non paying roles and keep our lawns cut and lettuce harvested.


10 posted on 03/04/2008 2:20:40 PM PST by rolling_stone (same)
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To: BGHater
Medicare is only a problem if the government tries to keep its promises...and when was the last time that happened? ;)
11 posted on 03/04/2008 2:21:20 PM PST by Mr. Jeeves ("Wise men don't need to debate; men who need to debate are not wise." -- Tao Te Ching)
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To: BGHater; shrinkermd; ex-Texan; TigerLikesRooster; jas3; CodeToad; AndyJackson; ovrtaxt; nicmarlo; ..

Don’t worry, the treasury will just print trillions of dollars to cover it. Just add a few zeros. No problem.


12 posted on 03/04/2008 2:22:44 PM PST by Travis McGee (---www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com---)
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To: BGHater

Don’t worry... The “rich” can just write a check, and problem solved.


13 posted on 03/04/2008 2:23:58 PM PST by Brilliant
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To: BGHater
The "solution" to Medicare is two-fold, and the implementation has already been started . . .

1. Under-report the actual rate of inflation and limit growth in Medicare reimbursement for all kinds of medical procedures. One added element of this is the importation of doctors from Third World rat-holes who are willing to accept these reduced Medicare payments.

2. Euthanize the elderly.

None of these candidates will talk about this, and for obvious reasons. The first point is something of a poorly-kept secret that nobody wants to admit knowing about, and the second is just too controversial.

14 posted on 03/04/2008 2:24:49 PM PST by Alberta's Child (I'm out on the outskirts of nowhere . . . with ghosts on my trail, chasing me there.)
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To: BGHater

Medicare is the second largest Ponzi Scheme in human history.


15 posted on 03/04/2008 2:25:03 PM PST by joeystoy
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To: rolling_stone

There are several countries tooling up to handle medical tourism. Thailand and Singapore are in the business now..India, believe it or not, is also tooling up.
They are getting ready to handle medical refugees with money, but either high cost or unavailable medical treatment.
Canada uses the US now as a safety valve. UK let’s the rich go private,but the developing countries can offer care at lower prices and equal technology.
A group of Indian Drs. from Chicago is building a medical facility in Bangalore..complete with a cyclotron to make make nuclear disgnostic materials..that will be aimed at medical tourism. Others already exist.


16 posted on 03/04/2008 2:25:14 PM PST by Oldexpat
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To: BGHater
Raul Castro has endorsed Obamstro!

There is no obesity problems in Cuba. Of course "Sicko" didn't mention that the lack of obese issues is the fact that food is rationed and most Cubans go to bed with empty stomachs!

Of course the Ruling Class doesn't have that problem.

17 posted on 03/04/2008 2:34:44 PM PST by Young Werther (Julius Caesar (Quae Cum Ita Sunt. Since these things are so.))
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To: BGHater

Obama momma or the bitc* don’t have a problem, they will just raise taxes to the point where after working your as* off for 40/60 hours a week you will owe the bloated goverment and the elected thieves money.


18 posted on 03/04/2008 2:34:49 PM PST by chiefqc
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To: EagleUSA

>>How did we ever survive back in the days
>>when we could afford to pay our own medical bills??

We didn’t survive.

Increasing life expectancy via medical technology has been achieved via the “health insurance” ponzi game.

As boomers age, demand upon services increases and the pyramid becomes increasingly top-heavy.


19 posted on 03/04/2008 2:43:18 PM PST by Etoo (I regret that I have but one screen name to sacrifice for my country.)
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To: BGHater

Has anyone come across a model that describes the economic impact of recirculating health-care dollars?

If that $34 trillion is recirculated exponentially throughout the economy.. maybe that’s not entirely bad?


20 posted on 03/04/2008 2:43:42 PM PST by Etoo (I regret that I have but one screen name to sacrifice for my country.)
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To: qam1; ItsOurTimeNow; PresbyRev; Fraulein; StoneColdGOP; Clemenza; m18436572; InShanghai; xrp; ...
Xer Ping

Ping list for the discussion of the politics and social (and sometimes nostalgic) aspects that directly effects Generation Reagan / Generation-X (Those born from 1965-1981) including all the spending previous generations are doing that Gen-X and Y will end up paying for.

Freep mail me to be added or dropped. See my home page for details and previous articles.

21 posted on 03/04/2008 2:48:50 PM PST by qam1 (There's been a huge party. All plates and the bottles are empty, all that's left is the bill to pay)
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To: joeystoy

And the first is Social Security? Am I right? Do I win the prize?


22 posted on 03/04/2008 2:50:27 PM PST by crghill (Postmillenial, theonomic, presuppositional, covenantal Calvinist! Let reconstruction begin!)
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To: Brilliant

If not we can just tax smokers and that will pay for everything


23 posted on 03/04/2008 2:50:51 PM PST by qam1 (There's been a huge party. All plates and the bottles are empty, all that's left is the bill to pay)
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To: joeystoy
Medicare is the second largest Ponzi Scheme in human history.
If you are referring to Social Security, the Medicare situation is much, much worse.

source

24 posted on 03/04/2008 2:51:41 PM PST by Your Nightmare
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To: BGHater

The only politically possible way out of this mess is means-testing. Democrats will demagogue all day about how cuts in Medicare will cause seniors to drop dead. Let them try and explain why we should pay trillions for seniors who could afford to pay their own bills.

This is not a perfect solution, but it’s one that might have a chance of saving our butts. Medicare is unconstitutional anyway, but the Constitution isn’t all that politically popular, I’m sorry to say.


25 posted on 03/04/2008 3:03:21 PM PST by Our man in washington
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To: oneamericanvoice

It’s never enough no matter who is spending it.


26 posted on 03/04/2008 3:07:13 PM PST by Blood of Tyrants (G-d is not a Republican. But Satan is definitely a Democrat.)
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To: Travis McGee

bttt!


27 posted on 03/04/2008 3:07:52 PM PST by nicmarlo (A vote for McRino is a false mandate for McShamnesty)
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To: BGHater
Raul Castro has endorsed Obamstro!

There is no obesity problems in Cuba. Of course "Sicko" didn't mention that the lack of obese issues is the fact that food is rationed and most Cubans go to bed with empty stomachs!

Of course the Ruling Class doesn't have that problem.

28 posted on 03/04/2008 3:36:38 PM PST by Young Werther (Julius Caesar (Quae Cum Ita Sunt. Since these things are so.))
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To: Mr. Jeeves

The same government that made the Indian treaties will take care of your medical care.


29 posted on 03/04/2008 3:38:28 PM PST by Western Phil
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To: BGHater

30 posted on 03/04/2008 3:44:14 PM PST by VRWC For Truth (No mas Juan "Traitor Rat" McAmnesty)
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To: Our man in washington

How will you “means-test” it?


31 posted on 03/04/2008 4:21:44 PM PST by RichardW
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To: BGHater
Wait for Hillarycare, then we won’t need Medicare and it’s tremendous cost. :-)
32 posted on 03/04/2008 4:58:36 PM PST by ANGGAPO (LayteGulf BeachClub)
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To: Oldexpat

I’m gonna go get my prostate checked out in India


33 posted on 03/04/2008 5:08:25 PM PST by dennisw (Never bet on a false prophet! <<<||>>> Never bet on Islam!)
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To: RichardW

For starters, 1 percent of liquid assets is the annual deductible. Got a million bucks? Great. The deductible is 10 grand. Most people could get some kind of insurance to cover that.

One could throw some ifs, ands, and buts in there as well, but this little measure would do wonders toward getting Medicare in balance.


34 posted on 03/04/2008 5:31:52 PM PST by Our man in washington
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To: dennisw

I had my prostate checked yesterday at the local chinese masage place. Turned out to be A-OK!


35 posted on 03/04/2008 7:06:15 PM PST by Bluestateredman (Self-sufficiency is the American Way)
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To: Bluestateredman

Yeah baby!


36 posted on 03/04/2008 7:13:57 PM PST by dennisw (Never bet on a false prophet! <<<||>>> Never bet on Islam!)
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To: qam1
"If not we can just tax smokers and that will pay for everything"

The irony being that the old fogeys voting for cigarette tax increases and smoking bans are the ones who really suck up all the health care $.

37 posted on 03/04/2008 8:02:07 PM PST by boop (Democracy is the theory that the people get the government they deserve, good and hard.)
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To: BGHater
Hmpf...the only person running for President who addressed the problems we face in the future with Social Security, Medicare and the falsehood of universal health care was vilified by FR as a nutjob.

I can't wait to watch the republic burn.

I have a good stockpile of ammunition.

38 posted on 03/04/2008 8:09:05 PM PST by xrp (RON PAUL! To HELL with neo-cons!)
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To: Our man in washington

Would this be self-administered or would another federal bureaucracy need to be formed? Who would enforce it?


39 posted on 03/05/2008 7:58:59 AM PST by RichardW
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To: RichardW

(Whoops, accidentally did that a private reply. Man, I’m tired. Sorry, RichardW. Here’s the public reply—same thing.)

Any means testing would require more bureaucracy. Presumably, the Health Care Financing Administration would have to work jointly with the Internal Revenue Service. I of course find the implications disturbing, but it’s the least worst idea I can think of that might actually get implemented. To solve a 19 trillion dollar problem, one must look at “least worst” options.

But if anyone has a better plan, I’m willing to hear it.


40 posted on 03/05/2008 8:33:04 PM PST by Our man in washington
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To: Our man in washington

I think the core solution is to involve the patients and/or their families. We need to know up front what something costs. As it is now, we don’t know and it is a slugfest between the medical providers and he chiseling insurance companies. And we get caught in the middle. Now it is a national problem in that we can’t pay for it. We need to bring the market back. I would start off by publishing the cost of all procedures and medical costs. We have to know what something costs.

I was charged over $10,000 just for one hour in an operating room plus another $1,500 for the recovery room. Total bill came to $30,000 and I’ve only seen a small portion paid by the insurance carrier. Can you believe $47 for a Zocor pill even though I had plenty with me. The stated excuse for now allowing me to take my own pills was that the hospital might get sued if I overdosed? (on a statin drug - give me a break.) The aspirin was downright cheap at only $3.25 for an 81 mg tablet.


41 posted on 03/05/2008 8:51:18 PM PST by RichardW
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To: RichardW

The reason they do that stuff is because of Medicare limits. They apply these to all patients. If Medicare will only pay X for a cost, but it costs the hospital more than X, they have to make up the cost somewhere. Pills are a great way to do it.

If Medicare went to coverage for catastrophic care only, this stuff could end. Part of my thinking is that the cost for care up to the catastrophic level would come from tax-free health savings accounts. If Hospital A charged you $47 for a Zocor, you might take your business to Hospital B rather than blow through your entire health savings account.


42 posted on 03/06/2008 12:29:48 PM PST by Our man in washington
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