Senior-baiting in healthcare debate


Morris and McGann combine a series of tangential facts to make it sound like seniors’ access to the future of Medicare is in peril. They even say that the proposed cuts are “like having one year without Medicare at all!” Conveniently, Morris and McGann don’t mention that only 23 percent of Medicare recipients are enrolled in Medicare Advantage. The program is clearly a rip-off for taxpayers. Research has shown that for every dollar the government spends on Medicare, “just $0.14 of it can be attributed to additional value (consumer surplus) to beneficiaries.” Medicare Advantage (created in 1997) is apparently so sacrosanct that such a dismal return of investment needs protection.

Additionally, those 30 million new patients Morris and McCann point to are not going on the Medicare rolls, as Morris and McGann imply. They newly insured are headed mostly for private insurance coverage (hence the industry support for healthcare reform and the new customers it brings with it). As for those Medicare rate cuts to doctors, Morris and McGann disingenuously throw them in together with health reform (Congress routinely fixes the rate); however, the Baucus bill, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, would “eliminate the 21 percent reduction in Medicare fees for physicians, scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, and substitute a 0.5 percent fee increase in 2010.”

It’s obvious Morris and McCann are trying to scare seniors into believing they will lose health coverage. However, their appeal is so plainly transparent and condescending to older Americans that Morris and McGann must take seniors as dopes incapable of rational thought. This type of dishonest pandering is exactly what makes people cynical about politics, and our seniors and the rest of the country deserve more in this public debate.