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It takes only two things to keep people in chains: Part II, Medicare

Saturday, November 26, 2016 17:01
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(Before It's News)

It takes only two things to keep people in chains: The ignorance of the oppressed and the treachery of their leaders

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In the previous post, we disclosed how the rich tell the Big Lie, in their efforts to ruin Social Security and thus to widen the Gap between the rich and the rest. (Widening the Gap is the #1 priority of the rich.)

Now, see how the rich use the Big Lie in their efforts to ruin Medicare.

Just to review: The Big Lie briefly is this: Federal taxes fund federal spending. You can read a more complete analysis, here.

The Big Lie is composed of several “sub-Lies”:

  1. Federal finances are like private finances
  2. The federal government can run short of its own sovereign currency
  3. FICA pays for Social Security and Medicare benefits
  4. Social Security and Medicare are “broke,” “going broke,” or will be “broke” at some future time.
  5. The Social Security and Medicare trust funds are insolvent or will be insolvent.
  6. Federal debt and deficts are “unsustainable.”
  7. Federal deficits cause hyper-inflation, like Zimbabwe and the Weimar Republic.
  8. Your children owe the federal debt.
  9. The government should run a balanced budget.
  10. The federal tax code should be “reformed” to “broaden the base.”

All ten of the above are absolutely false, their only purpose being to fool you, the public, into believing the federal government cannot afford [insert benefit here] without tax increases.

HEALTH NEWS FROM NPR

Paul Ryan’s Plan to Change Medicare Looks A Lot Like Obamacare November 26, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan agree that repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with some other health insurance system is a top priority.

The ACA (“Obamacare”) should be replaced, not because it is President Obama’s signature achievement, and not because it first was implemented by Mitt Romney, but because it is based on the Big Lie.

It requires the young people of the middle- and lower-income groups (the “99%”) to do what the federal government easily could, and absolutely should do: Fund healthcare coverage for all people.

But they disagree on whether overhauling Medicare should be part of that plan. Trump said little about Medicare during his campaign, other than to promise that he wouldn’t cut it.

Ryan, on the other hand, has Medicare in his sights.

“Because of Obamacare, Medicare is going broke,” Ryan said.

Ryan told the Big Lie.  Obamacare cannot cause Medicare to “go broke.” The federal government cannot “go broke,” nor can any federal agency  “go broke.”

Our Monetarily Sovereign federal government, unlike state and local governments, never will run short of dollars.

Even during wars, recessions, and depressions, and natural disasters, the United States government never has run short of its own sovereign currency, the dollar. And it never will.

In fact, the opposite appears to be true — Obamacare may actually have extended the life of Medicare.

This year’s Medicare trustees report says the program would now be able to pay all its bills through 2028, an improvement Medicare’s trustees attribute, in part, to changes in Medicare called for in the Affordable Care Act and other economic factors.

” . . . trustees report says the program would now be able to pay all its bills through 2028 . . . “

The trustees told the Big Lie. Medicare can pay all its bills forever, and this has nothing to do with Obamacare.  It has to do with the fact that the federal government is Monetarily Sovereign, and therefore creates dollars by paying its bills.

So rest easy, President Obama, Rep. Ryan and you Medicare trustees.  The federal government will not and cannot run short of dollars to pay your salaries, pay your expenses, pay your retirement benefits — and of course, pay Medicare benefits.

And the irony of the Ryan Medicare plan, say some health policy analysts, is that it would turn the government program into something that looks very much like the structure created for insurance plans sold under the ACA.

Ryan’s plan would set up “Medicare exchanges” where private insurance companies would compete with traditional government-run Medicare for customers.

People would get “premium support” from the government to pay for their insurance under the Ryan Medicare plan.

The subsidy would be tied to the price of a specific plan offered by an insurer on the exchange, much like the Affordable Care Act subsidy is tied to the second-cheapest “silver” plans.

The above demonstrates the rich running like hungry swine to slurp from the money-trough, with Ryan leading the herd.

Medicare benefits currently are paid directly to hospitals and doctors, by our not-for-profit, federal government. The Ryan plan would insert private insurance companies as middlemen, to pay health care providers.

Billions of dollars, rather than going directly to health care providers, would flow through the for-profit insurance companies, who would siphon off some for themselves.

So, if insurance companies act as middlemen, taking some of the government’s money for themselves, rather than all of the money going to healthcare providers, how does that save the government money?

Answer: You, the public will have to pay the difference.

It would be a bonanza for the rich insurance companies, their highly-paid officers, and their wealthy shareholders. And importantly, it would be an additional tax on you –exactly the Gap-widening effects the rich want.

(The rich are made richer if they receive more and/or if the not-rich receive less.  Ryan’s plan accomplishes both.)

The federal government doesn’t need to save money; it has infinite money. Nevertheless, Ryan has invented a convenient excuse to funnel billions of dollars into insurance companies coffers. His excuse is the Big Lie.

One can be sure he will be well-rewarded by the insurance companies for his efforts on their behalf.

As for the public: You, the public, be damned.

 Like in Obamacare, people who choose plans that cost more than the government subsidy would have to pay the balance.

The changes would start in 2024, when people who are now about 57 become Medicare eligible.

Avik Roy, founder of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, agrees with Ryan that Medicare is going broke and that a program structured in this way would save money through “the magic of competition.”

“If you have 10 insurers competing for that business, you’re going to negotiate a better deal,” he said.

Ah, yes, that old black “magic of competition” will get you a “better deal.”

How about the “greater magic” of having no middlemen to suck dollars from consumers, while they contribute nothing to the process?

How about the even greater magic of having our Monetarily Sovereign government pay for the whole thing, saving you tons of money?

Most seniors today are enrolled in what’s known as traditional Medicare, where the government pays for medical appointments, tests and hospital stays on a fee-for-service basis.

Alongside that program is Medicare Advantage, an insurance plan provided by a private insurer which may offer seniors additional services like dental care at the same price.

The government pays a fixed monthly fee to the insurer for each Medicare Advantage patient, rather than paying for every service separately, as it does in traditional Medicare.

Henry Aaron, a health care economist at the Brookings Institution, says Ryan’s proposal aims to move almost all seniors into Medicare Advantage-style insurance by making traditional Medicare too expensive for the consumer.

There it is — “making traditional Medicare too expensive for the consumer.” That is the way Ryan plans to protect you from Medicare.

Feel better, now?

The health care and health insurance systems are very complex. Doctors move in and out of networks, copayments can vary and plans can change.

Millions of people on Medicare are also eligible for Medicaid, meaning they are poor and vulnerable, Aaron says. And at least 8 million Social Security beneficiaries have been declared financially incompetent and are assigned a representative to manage their money.

“What you’ve got here is a group of people who are very sick, poor, and often cognitively impaired one way or the other,” Aaron says. “Tossing people like that into a health care marketplace and saying, ‘Here, go buy some insurance,’ is a recipe for problems.”

Not only is it a recipe for problems; it’s completely unnecessary. The federal government simply should fund comprehensive Medicare for every man, woman and child in America.

Why insert middlemen insurance companies between the government and the doctors?

Seniors may feel the same way. Researchers at Brown University last year found that as people get older and sicker, they tend to drop Medicare Advantage and opt for traditional Medicare.

Ryan has been working on his plan to change Medicare for many years. A version of his “premium support” plan was included in several budget proposals he put forth when he was chairman of the House Budget Committee.

The Congressional Budget Office says the proposals would reduce federal spending on Medicare.

Yes, it’s a plan to reduce federal spending and increase consumer spending. Is that what we want?

And, why stop at a convoluted “Ryancare” plan to (unnecessarily) reduce federal spending. How about eliminating all federal support, and making the people pay for everything? Isn’t that the next, logical step?

At this point it’s unclear whether Trump shares Ryan’s ambitions to upend the current Medicare system.

Trump didn’t include Medicare reform on his campaign web site. But since his election, “modernize Medicare” has been included on the list of health care priorities on his transition web site.

We have moved to a new euphemism. The politicians usually have talked about “reforming” Medicare and Social Security. The word “reforming” always has meant, “Take from the poor and give to the rich.”

Now they use an even more mealy-mouthed term: “Modernizing.”

Whatever term is used, the method and the result always seem to be the same: First, tell the Big Lie. Then use the Big Lie to steal benefits from the 99% and give benefits to the 1%.

So long as the 99% fall for the Big Lie, the process will continue. It takes only two things to keep people in chains: The ignorance of the oppressed and the treachery of their leaders.

Twitter: @rodgermitchell; Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

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The single most important problems in economics involve the excessive income/wealth/power Gaps between the rich and the rest.

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics.

Implementation of The Ten Steps To Prosperity can narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:
1. ELIMINATE FICA (Ten Reasons to Eliminate FICA )
Although the article lists 10 reasons to eliminate FICA, there are two fundamental reasons:
*FICA is the most regressive tax in American history, widening the Gap by punishing the low and middle-income groups, while leaving the rich untouched, and
*The federal government, being Monetarily Sovereign, neither needs nor uses FICA to support Social Security and Medicare.
2. FEDERALLY FUNDED MEDICARE — PARTS A, B & D, PLUS LONG TERM CARE — FOR EVERYONE (H.R. 676, Medicare for All )
This article addresses the questions:
*Does the economy benefit when the rich can afford better health care than can the rest of Americans?
*Aside from improved health care, what are the other economic effects of “Medicare for everyone?”
*How much would it cost taxpayers?
*Who opposes it?”
3. PROVIDE AN ANNUAL ECONOMIC BONUS TO EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD IN AMERICA, AND/OR EVERY STATE, A PER CAPITA ECONOMIC BONUS (The JG (Jobs Guarantee) vs the GI (Guaranteed Income) vs the EB) Or institute a reverse income tax.
This article is the fifth in a series about direct financial assistance to Americans:

Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Employer of Last Resort is a bad idea. Sunday, Jan 1 2012
MMT’s Job Guarantee (JG) — “Another crazy, rightwing, Austrian nutjob?” Thursday, Jan 12 2012
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Jobs Guarantee is like the EU’s euro: A beloved solution to the wrong problem. Tuesday, May 29 2012
“You can’t fire me. I’m on JG” Saturday, Jun 2 2012

Economic growth should include the “bottom” 99.9%, not just the .1%, the only question being, how best to accomplish that. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) favors giving everyone a job. Monetary Sovereignty (MS) favors giving everyone money. The five articles describe the pros and cons of each approach.
4. FREE EDUCATION (INCLUDING POST-GRAD) FOR EVERYONEFive reasons why we should eliminate school loans
Monetarily non-sovereign State and local governments, despite their limited finances, support grades K-12. That level of education may have been sufficient for a largely agrarian economy, but not for our currently more technical economy that demands greater numbers of highly educated workers.
Because state and local funding is so limited, grades K-12 receive short shrift, especially those schools whose populations come from the lowest economic groups. And college is too costly for most families.
An educated populace benefits a nation, and benefitting the nation is the purpose of the federal government, which has the unlimited ability to pay for K-16 and beyond.
5. SALARY FOR ATTENDING SCHOOL
Even were schooling to be completely free, many young people cannot attend, because they and their families cannot afford to support non-workers. In a foundering boat, everyone needs to bail, and no one can take time off for study.
If a young person’s “job” is to learn and be productive, he/she should be paid to do that job, especially since that job is one of America’s most important.
6. ELIMINATE CORPORATE TAXES
Corporations themselves exist only as legalities. They don’t pay taxes or pay for anything else. They are dollar-transferring machines. They transfer dollars from customers to employees, suppliers, shareholders and the government (the later having no use for those dollars).
Any tax on corporations reduces the amount going to employees, suppliers and shareholders, which diminishes the economy. Ultimately, all corporate taxes come around and reappear as deductions from your personal income.
7. INCREASE THE STANDARD INCOME TAX DEDUCTION, ANNUALLY. (Refer to this.) Federal taxes punish taxpayers and harm the economy. The federal government has no need for those punishing and harmful tax dollars. There are several ways to reduce taxes, and we should evaluate and choose the most progressive approaches.
Cutting FICA and corporate taxes would be a good early step, as both dramatically affect the 99%. Annual increases in the standard income tax deduction, and a reverse income tax also would provide benefits from the bottom up. Both would narrow the Gap.
8. TAX THE VERY RICH (THE “.1%) MORE, WITH HIGHER PROGRESSIVE TAX RATES ON ALL FORMS OF INCOME. (TROPHIC CASCADE)
There was a time when I argued against increasing anyone’s federal taxes. After all, the federal government has no need for tax dollars, and all taxes reduce Gross Domestic Product, thereby negatively affecting the entire economy, including the 99.9%.
But I have come to realize that narrowing the Gap requires trimming the top. It simply would not be possible to provide the 99.9% with enough benefits to narrow the Gap in any meaningful way. Bill Gates reportedly owns $70 billion. To get to that level, he must have been earning $10 billion a year. Pick any acceptable Gap (1000 to 1?), and the lowest paid American would have to receive $10 million a year. Unreasonable.
9. FEDERAL OWNERSHIP OF ALL BANKS (Click The end of private banking and How should America decide “who-gets-money”?)
Banks have created all the dollars that exist. Even dollars created at the direction of the federal government, actually come into being when banks increase the numbers in checking accounts. This gives the banks enormous financial power, and as we all know, power corrupts — especially when multiplied by a profit motive.
Although the federal government also is powerful and corrupted, it does not suffer from a profit motive, the world’s most corrupting influence.
10. INCREASE FEDERAL SPENDING ON THE MYRIAD INITIATIVES THAT BENEFIT AMERICA’S 99.9% (Federal agencies)Browse the agencies. See how many agencies benefit the lower- and middle-income/wealth/ power groups, by adding dollars to the economy and/or by actions more beneficial to the 99.9% than to the .1%.
Save this reference as your primer to current economics. Sadly, much of the material is not being taught in American schools, which is all the more reason for you to use it.

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

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