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Sun Dec 4, 2016, 02:28 AM

Who's Afraid of Medicare and the VA?

Attacking Medicare and the VA is an extremely risky political move. Any politician who goes after either program risks painting a big X on his back. So, why are so many rights wingers so willing to go on record as hating two of the most popular health care programs in the U.S.? Ask yourself who is threatened by the work done at the VA and by Medicare?

If you said the private health insurance industry, you are only partially correct. The private health insurance industry loves to write policies for healthy people who will not use their benefits. That's why we have so many Medicare Advantage plans. However, Blue Cross Blue Shield is not salivating at the thought of taking over the expense of your Aunt Betty's dialysis. The mere presence of Medicare scares BCBS, because the insurance giant knows that the presence of a popular, successful single payer insurance program could lead to calls for a universal single payer program that could easily be modeled upon or even rolled into Medicare. But BCBS does not want to do away with government funded health care since it allows the taxpayer to absorb the cost of caring for truly sick people while BCBS collects benefits from the healthy.

It's the snake oil salesmen that are truly afraid of the VA and Medicare. Those inside the U.S. and around the world who are making a fortune selling overpriced useless procedures and medications to the U.S. public.

Both the VA and Medicare are devoted to controlling costs. One way to do this is to carefully evaluate treatments to see which are actually useful. Here is a link about Veterans Affairs Administration research into cost effectiveness of treatments.


"The Institute of Medicine estimated that $210 billion worth of unnecessary services were provided in the U.S. health care system in 2009 (United States Institute of Medicine, 2012)."

So, who gets hot and bothered by studies like this? The folks who pocketed $210 billion for unnecessary services. Who would love to see the VA and Medicare and all other medical organizations stop doing cost effectiveness analysis? The investment bankers who buy a pharmaceutical company because it promises to deliver a drug for dementia that will fetch a hefty sum from desperate families---even though it does not work. People who advocate surgeries for conditions that are better treated by lifestyle changes. People who want you to overeat and smoke and laze around during your youth so that you will need their prosthetic hips and knees in middle age.

We have reached a milestone in the U.S. We now spend $10,000 per person per year on health care that gives us quality of life similar to folks living in Mexico. We are the only wealthy country in the world that does not invest in disease prevention and this allows pharmaceutical companies, durable goods manufacturers and hospital chains to reap a windfall.

If Trump was doing this for the health insurance industry we would not hear him talk about retaining one particular feature of the Affordable Care Act, the clause that forces insurers to write policies for those with pre-existing conditions. The readiness of people with cancer to buy insurance and the reluctance of healthy people to do the same is costing the insurance industry lots of money. The fact that the GOP Congress would rather bail out the health insurance industry than do away with this policy signals that they are listening to someone besides (or, at least, in addition to) the insurance industry. I think that someone is the collection of snake oil salesmen around the world who sell us overpriced treatments that do not actually do us any good.

Health spending will be close to 20% of the GNP by 2020. If you want to get rich in this country, you do it by investing in drugs and urgent care center and designer hospitals (without emergency rooms). And if you want to make a lot of money, you have to control or shut down anyone who is trying to control costs. You make the FDA a revolving door with industry. You give give large sums of money to politicians. And you shut down any large health care enterprise which actually bothers to study treatments for their cost effectiveness.

About that figure, $200 billion. That is in the same ballpark as the profits generated by the combined U.S. health and life insurance industry in that same year. The health care industrial complex in this country is huge. And under Trump, it will doubtless get even larger---and our health indicators like life expectancy (which recently went down for women in the US) and infant mortality will continue to move in the wrong direction.

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Reply Who's Afraid of Medicare and the VA? (Original post)
McCamy Taylor Dec 2016 OP
TexasTowelie Dec 2016 #1
msongs Dec 2016 #2
McCamy Taylor Dec 2016 #3

Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Sun Dec 4, 2016, 02:46 AM

1. My older brother who seved in the Persian Gulf War

and who is only about a decade away from retiring doesn't realize how much he has screwed himself by voting for Trump. I have sympathy for him since he is my brother, but considering his antagonistic approach towards me when discussing politics there are times when I prefer to be indifferent.

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Sun Dec 4, 2016, 03:06 AM

2. save SS and medicare. cancel benefits to all registered republicans :-) nt

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Mon Dec 5, 2016, 02:51 AM

3. It's worse than I thought. An orthopedist wants to run Medicare.


Two years later, as the House debated a huge bill to jolt the economy out of a severe recession, Mr. Price jumped to his feet after spotting an item that provided $1.1 billion for research comparing the effectiveness of different drugs and medical treatments. He denounced it, saying he feared that the findings would be used to decide which items and services would be covered by insurance.

He is afraid that they might discover that back surgery for herniated discs is all but worthless and that the nation does not need to replace knees and hips in people who are too demented to even walk.

For more on surgery that heals the surgeon's wallet rather than the patient, read my old journal "The Dying Woman in the Bed With the Brand New Hip."

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