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From Thom Hartmann; Dear President Obama: A Modest Medicare Proposal

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Dear President Obama,

I understand you're thinking of dumping your "public option" because of all the demagoguery by Sarah Palin and Dick Armey and Newt Gingrich and their crowd on right-wing radio and Fox. Fine. Good idea, in fact.

Instead, let's make it simple. Please let us buy into Medicare.

It would be so easy. You don't have to reinvent the wheel with this so-called "public option" that's a whole new program from the ground up. Medicare already exists. It works. Some people will like it, others won't - just like the Post Office versus FedEx analogy you're so comfortable with.

Just pass a simple bill - it could probably be just a few lines, like when Medicare was expanded to include disabled people - that says that any American citizen can buy into the program at a rate to be set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which reflects the actual cost for us to buy into it.

So it's revenue neutral!

To make it available to people of low income, raise the rates slightly for all currently non-eligible people (like me - under 65) to cover the cost of below-200%-of-poverty people. Revenue neutral again.

Most of us will do damn near anything to get out from under the thumbs of the multi-millionaire CEOs who are running our current insurance programs. Sign me up!

This lets you blow up all the rumors about death panels and grandma and everything else: everybody knows what Medicare is. Those who scorn it can go with Blue Cross. Those who like it can buy into it. Simplicity itself.

Of course, we'd like a few fixes, like letting Medicare negotiate drug prices and filling some of the holes Republicans and AARP and the big insurance lobbyists have drilled into Medicare so people have to buy "supplemental" insurance, but that can wait for the second round. Let's get this done first.

Simple stuff. Medicare for anybody who wants it. Private health insurance for those who don't. Easy message. Even Max Baucus and Chuck Grassley can understand it. Sarah Palin can buy into it, or ignore it. No death panels, no granny plugs, nothing. Just a few sentences.

Replace the "you must be disabled or 65" with "here's what it'll cost if you want to buy in, and here's the sliding scale of subsidies we'll give you if you're poor, paid for by everybody else who's buying in." (You could roll back the Reagan tax cuts and make it all free, but that's another rant.)

We elected you because we expected you to have the courage of your convictions. Here's how. Not the "single payer Medicare for all" that many of us would prefer, but a simple, "Medicare for anybody who wants to buy in."

Respectfully,
Thom Hartmann

 

http://www.thomhartmann.com

Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. more...)
 
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I'm for that, a true public option where we all ha... by August Adams on Monday, Aug 17, 2009 at 10:17:13 PM
Tom: I made exactly the same point on this website... by Federico Moramarco on Monday, Aug 17, 2009 at 10:22:01 PM
Obama is making the health care reform issue unnec... by Nathan Nahm on Tuesday, Aug 18, 2009 at 12:00:26 AM
The people have a need - in this case healthcare -... by Dennis Kaiser on Tuesday, Aug 18, 2009 at 6:00:26 AM
This is truly the crux of the problem. There were ... by vidiot on Tuesday, Aug 18, 2009 at 12:47:54 PM
Is not Medicare government run health insurance? Y... by Philip Pease on Tuesday, Aug 18, 2009 at 10:22:37 AM
In contrast to Thom's proposal, H.R. 676 does rest... by Don Smith on Tuesday, Aug 18, 2009 at 10:36:45 AM
Who could complain about this? ... by Larry Brown on Tuesday, Aug 18, 2009 at 1:20:11 PM
Medicare doesn't pay for dental or vision (these a... by Jill Herendeen on Wednesday, Aug 19, 2009 at 7:54:47 AM
Sounds good. So what's the catch? There must be on... by Harold Barre on Tuesday, Aug 18, 2009 at 5:51:32 PM
This is exactly what Dennis Kucinich proposed long... by Caronome on Wednesday, Aug 19, 2009 at 7:44:28 AM
Would this also give insurance companies the opt o... by zonie on Wednesday, Aug 19, 2009 at 7:41:04 PM