November 18, 2012 in Opinion

Smart Bombs: No escaping health care costs

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 was part of the secret “grand bargain” that President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner temporarily struck during the summer of 2011, according to documents obtained by reporter Bob Woodward. The idea could very well come up again as both parties try to avert the “fiscal cliff.”

The Kaiser Family Foundation studied the effects of such a change, and found that it would save the federal government $5.7 billion in 2014. But just because the feds would be saving money, it doesn’t mean you would. Out-of-pocket costs for those waiting the extra two years would go up by $3.7 billion in that same year.

Health care costs for employers with retiree plans would rise $4.5 billion. For those on Medicare, Part B premiums (doctor visits, lab tests, etc.) would rise about 3 percent because the younger group of retirees would exit the insurance pool.

For those purchasing insurance on the new state exchanges, premiums would also go up by 3 percent, because older people would jump into that pool.

All told, the cost of saving the feds $5.7 billion in 2014 would be about double that amount.

The moral of this math is that we’re all in this together when it comes to health care. Shifting costs from one budget to another might make politicians and accountants feel better, but the underlying illness of a fragmented system remains. Once we accept that, we can end the shell games, construct one giant pool and target real-cost savings.

Paranoia for $200, Alex. The answer: The Obama administration sicced the FBI on a philandering Gen. David Petraeus, forcing him to resign so he wouldn’t testify in front of Congress about the Benghazi tragedy.

The question: What is the shortest conspiracy theory ever?

Proportionate response? It’s fascinating to watch the outrage of U.S. Sen. John McCain and other like-minded folks in response to the four deaths in Benghazi, Libya:

What happened? Differing accounts! When did the administration say “terror”? Why didn’t we protect them? Susan Rice lied!

Contrast that with reaction to the fiasco in Iraq, where more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died, along with some 4,500 U.S. troops:

Well, you see, U.S. intelligence said that British intelligence said that quantities of yellowcake uranium were purchased. Nukes were imminent. U.N. inspectors untrustworthy. Curveball trustworthy. Some Democrats agreed. Bush didn’t lie. Caveats in the footnotes. Valerie Plame wasn’t really undercover. Her husband is partisan. Scooter Libby a victim. Got rid of Saddam. “Relationship” with al-Qaida. Fought them there, so we didn’t have to fight them here. Insurgency impossible to predict. Fight with the Army you have. Shouldn’t be leaving so soon.”

Clearly, politics takes no prisoners.

leaving the cocoon. I feel somewhat sorry for what’s happened to Republicans. Extremists inside a conservative media bubble are rowing the party against a strong demographic current. However, younger Republicans seem to sense this disastrous course, according to a recent article by Politico. I’ll just quote them and stay out of it.

“We have become what the left was in the ’70s – insular,” says an unnamed prominent Republican.

“The Internet amplifies talk radio and cable news, and provides distribution for other sources like Newsmax. Then your friends, who usually agree with you, disseminate the same stories on Facebook and Twitter. And you assume that everyone agrees with you!” says Trey Grayson, 40, a former secretary of state from Kentucky.

Said a young Latino operative about declining Latino support: “They just want to put a sombrero on the Republican elephant.”

“There’s a huge and ever-growing segment of the vote that Republicans just aren’t talking to and in some cases didn’t even know existed,” said GOP strategist Todd Harris, 40.

Ben Domenech, a 30-year-old member of a conservative think tank, said, “Conservatives may be content to stay in a bubble and yell about Benghazi, but it doesn’t help the cause in the long term.”

Associate Editor Gary Crooks can be reached at garyc@spokesman.com or (509) 459-5026. Follow him on Twitter @GaryCrooks.


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