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GUEST COMMENTARY: Health care proposals will hurt elderly, the young especially hard

Thursday, August 13, 2009 | 8:43 a.m. CDT; updated 11:03 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 4, 2010

With the district work period upon us, I have heard from a variety of folks who are very concerned about the real impact of the current health care proposal on their lives. Farmers and ranchers, seniors and young people all want to know exactly how this national health care will affect them, and I want to address those concerns.

The liberal majority’s health care takeover is bad for our family farmers and ranchers because it calls for billions of dollars in cuts from Medicare Advantage plans, which provide a choice of health care options to seniors. These harmful and arbitrary cuts could result in Medicare Advantage plans moving out of rural areas, harming beneficiary choice and causing millions of seniors to lose their current coverage. We also would see $10 billion in reductions in Medicare disproportionate-share hospital (DSH) payments, and the bill calls for an additional $10 billion in Medicaid DSH reductions. These reductions could inflict more significant harm on rural hospitals, whose Medicaid programs cover a low percentage of costs to care for the uninsured, as well as states whose DSH payment levels are already below the national average. Additionally, the administration’s proposal would impose more than half a trillion dollars of “surtaxes” on filers with incomes over $350,000 and raise taxes on our family farms.

How to contact the congressman

 As always, I encourage you to visit our website at luetkemeyer.house.gov. I also encourage you to call our offices in Columbia (573-886-8928), Washington, Mo. (636-239-2276), or Hannibal (573-231-1012) with your questions and concerns. If you want even greater access to what I am working on, please visit our YouTube site and our Facebook page.


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The majority’s health care proposal is bad for seniors because it includes $162.2 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage plans. These harmful cuts could cause millions of seniors to lose their current coverage. The proposal also includes premium increases for Medicare Parts B and D. Adjustments in the proposal to the Medicare formula that governs physician reimbursement levels indicates that seniors would be forced to pay one-quarter of the corresponding increase in physician spending through higher Part B premiums. For Part D, the proposal would seek to fill in the coverage gap, which would cause a 50 percent spike in premiums when compared to current projections. Finally, the proposal’s end-of-life provisions could result in government-paid consultations encouraging assisted suicide or other forms of euthanasia.

Our young people also stand to lose under the majority’s national health care proposal. By banning new private health insurance that fails to meet government-controlled standards, we would eliminate a source of portable coverage for many young people who utilize the individual market to obtain coverage for periods between jobs. Also under the proposal, premiums paid by young and healthy individuals would rise and likely discourage their purchase of insurance. The bill would impose a 2.5 percent tax on the income of all individuals who cannot afford to purchase a “bureaucrat-approved” policy, which, again, puts a significant burden on young people, who are just starting out in life. Finally, the rising debt created by this nearly $1 trillion program saddles our young people with a deficit that will extend over decades.

Another onerous provision in the underlying bill that I do not support includes some 53 new boards, commissions, programs and bureaucracies created in the bill as introduced. It’s also troubling to me that the current bill includes no requirement for individuals to verify their citizenship or identity before receiving taxpayer-funded health care subsidies.

In the days and weeks ahead, as the debate on the administration’s health care proposal continues, I ask you to keep these facts in mind. Meanwhile, I will continue to work in support of alternative health care proposals that will help, not hurt, our farmers and ranchers, seniors and young people.

Blaine Luetkemeyer is the U.S. House representative for the Ninth District of Missouri.


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Comments

Stephen Griffard August 14, 2009 | 2:11 p.m.

One test of a politician who can actually represent all the people in his/her district or state is if you can hear their stance on an issue and simply have a good faith disagreement. For someone like last year's candidate Judy Baker, I always felt that was true. For Blaine, it is not.

From "liberal majority’s health care takeover" for bringing up the tired old canard of Sarah Palin's death panel, he reveals himself not as a thoughtful opponent of health care reform as it currently stands but as a mindless partisan who disregards the needs of his constituents in order to satisfy a right-wing ideology. I prefer my lunatics screaming AT my representative, not as my representative himself.

(Report Comment)
jane whitesides August 14, 2009 | 3:57 p.m.

Perhaps Representative Luetkemeyer should take a look at the proposed health reform bills, and seriously consider the provisions that would serve his constituents well instead of repeating misleading "analysis" and outright lies.

The over payments to Medicare Advantage have been on the chopping block before, but for some reason, the Republicans who rail against government fraud, waste, and abuse think it's okay to overpay private insurers. "Private plans were brought into Medicare on the theory that they could deliver Medicare services at lower cost. However, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) — Congress’s expert advisory body on Medicare payment policy — has found that Medicare pays private plans 14 percent more than it costs to treat the same beneficiaries in the traditional Medicare program. These over payments threaten Medicare’s finances and increase the premiums that participants in traditional Medicare pay."*

Millions of seniors are falling into the "doughnut hole" of Medicare Part D for prescription coverage. Many seniors are going without needed medications due to cost.Closing this gap is a priority in the proposed bills.

Young people who graduate from college are no longer covered by their parents' insurance policies. Some find jobs that don't offer insurance or are paid so little that they can't afford to buy into the plan. Many others are not able to find employment. One of the great proposals of health reform would allow young people to stay on the family plan until age 26. As a side note, any insurance company that does not meet basic standards of coverage shouldn't be able to sell coverage. However, I believe the House bill would only bar them from the exchange, not from doing business.

Illegals? Federal law is not being suspended. They have no right to these programs.

As for the end of life provisions, the "government paid consultant" is your doctor. You will be able to voluntarily schedule an appointment(paid for by Medicare) to discuss living wills, durable powers of attorney, resuscitation orders, palliative care, and other issues of concern. Freedom is a big word for conservatives, so they should be wholeheartedly behind this idea. We all want to make advance directives as to our care, rather than have a stranger or family member go against our wishes.

*January Angeles and Edwin Park, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 12, 2009

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 14, 2009 | 6:04 p.m.

All of these crying politicians bring this quote by a friend of mine to mind:

>>> Do you know the difference between a Citizen and a Politician?
The Citizen works for change and Politicians cry about that change coming.

Dr Dave Foley <<<

(Report Comment)

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