Medicare and Medicaid have reached “middle age.”


The Democrat Party is angling for single payer health insurance. What is their model? They seem to be accepting the Bernie Sanders mantra of “Medicare for all.”

I am one of 55.5 million Medicare recipients. The program was signed into law on June 30, 1965 by then President Lyndon Johnson. At the signing he noted, “It has a few defects, but I am confident those can be quickly remedied.” So we have in excess of a half century of data to draw upon.

[Source: Medicare and Medicaid At 50: One Is Going Bankrupt, the Other Is Bankrupting States, by John Merline]

Let’s take a look:

  • The Government Accountability Office reported an eye-popping $60 billion (one in every ten dollars in Medicare’s budget) was lost to waste, fraud, abuse or improper payments last year.
  • 23,400 fake or bad addresses on Medicare’s list of providers. You know. These are the people billing Medicare.
  • Has repeatedly suffered vast cost overruns.
  • Has already been “reformed” countless times.
  • Has imposed numerous price controls on doctors and hospitals.
  • Underpayment by Medicare and Medicaid to U.S. hospitals was $57.8 billion in 2015 (the latest data I could find).

So, our stalwart federal government has tinkered and tinkered to fix Johnson’s notion of a “few defects.” Still, the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will be insolvent in 15 short years, after which Medicare Part A will run annual deficits that will top $200 billion. And, Medicare’s latest annual report projects that its share of GDP will climb 53% over the next two decades.

Now that sounds like a plan we need to expand from 55 million Americans to 326 million Americans. As bad as that all seems, Medicare is far better off than Medicaid. Although Medicaid is less disastrous for the federal government is woefully disastrous for state governments.

Again, let’s take a look:

  • Medicaid today covers nearly 72 million Americans (Medicare only covers 55 million).
  • We have had a 12 million increase in just the past 7 years. Why? Obamacare “expanded” Medicaid.
  • Medicaid’s costs are swamping state budgets, climbing from 9% in 1989 to 20% today.
  • Medicaid is the lowest payer in compensation to physicians (meaning the more Medicaid patients your doctor sees the faster he/she goes broke). Ergo, far fewer doctors accept Medicaid compared to Medicare patients – see graph below. (And from personal experience, every UC hospital physician must accept Medicaid patients because the University receives State funding, otherwise…)
  • The University of Virginia found that surgical patients on Medicaid are 13 percent more likely to die than those without insurance of any kind.

Thus, we have Medicaid wreaking havoc with state budgets while providing lousy care to the poor. And we have Medicare soon to go broke.

To the Democrat Party it sounds “perfect” to nationalize Medicare/Medicaid as our single-payer health insurance plan.

Roy Filly

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About Roy Filly

Please read my first blog in which I describe myself and my goals.
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