promising to attack Republicans in 2012 for killing "Medicare as we know it" and
pratling on for a few paragraphs about the Dorsey Brothers.
Medicare is confusing. Medicare Part D is the most confusing part of Medicare. So it is important for seniors to ignore news columns such as this recent PolitiFact article analyzing the truth or fallacy of a recent Obama re-election ad.
The Obama claim is probably true. (I didn’t see the whole ad and I base my opinion on the fact that most seniors understand that ads are self serving and slanted.) But the long PolitiFact article analyzing the short Obama ad introduces a dozen errors and could be misleading to senior citizens reading it.
Here are just a few examples. PolitiFact says the ad says:
"As president (Obama) signed the Affordable Care Act ... and reduced the cost of prescription drugs for nearly 3.6 million Americans (by $2.1 billion) in 2011."
It’s true but at least a little misleading not to point out that this 3.6 million number is only about 8% of all the people on Medicare. Looked at another way, only about 8% fall into “the hole” in the first place so more than nine out of 10 seniors don't have to think twice about the donut hole.
It is also misleading not to mention that while the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) “gave” us seniors this couple of billion a year in savings (actually the drug manufacturers give it to us, not PPACA) via Part D, PPACA takes $150 billion away from about 12,000,000 of us seniors on Medicare Part C over the next 10 years. (Many of the 3,600,000 and 12,000,000 are the same people of course.) That’s not such a good deal: get $2 billion but lose $150 billion.
PolitiFact also says the ad says:
It’s at least a little misleading not to mention that Medicare Part D hasn’t "always contained" anything. It’s only six years old and before that there was no Medicare drug coverage at all. The donut hole is dumb but before it existed, 100% of seniors on Medicare (unless they had private prescription insurance) paid dollar-one and 100% of all subsequent dollars for drugs. When Part D was passed, President Obama’s party opposed it (although they might argue that they opposed it because it had this stupid deductible in the middle? I dunno. I wasn’t a senior then so didn’t pay attention.)
There are also errors about deductibles, the size of the initial phase, the size of the donut hole, the process of reaching catastrophic coverage (only affects 3% of seniors), the ultimate status of the donut hole after 2020, what the drug companies are doing and why and will be doing as well as other errors and omissions. The point is, don't depend on political writings for something as important as your Medicare. Go to your local senior center and ask.
To help sell the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which -- against all historical precedent -- has become less popular since it was passed two years ago, John Kerry's crack PR staff has put together one of those sappy "you'll love it when it really begins" PPACA puff pieces for Huffington Post.
Over on Massachusetts Health Stats, I explained all Kerry's deceptions about RomneyCare. But he (or his PR hack) threw in a few misleading statements about Medicare as well. Kerry says:
Very quietly over the last year, President Obama -- primarily through his press secretary but also through other surrogates -- has announced his Medicare reform proposal. This is his reponse to bipartisan Congressional and think-tank proposals and ideas from his own budget commission. This stealth process counters the Republican charge that the Democrats do not want to change anything about Medicare.
Under the Obama plan for Medicare:
No organization is worse than the left-wing AARP in scaring seniors over pending proposals to reform Medicare (and Social Security). The large senior-citizen-focused insurance company seems to be focused on proving its political might and/or feathering its own business interests. Either way, seniors get screwed.
The best example of this is a program called "Make your voice heard..." launched on March 19 after months of left wing AARP propaganda in its multiple media outlets. The core of the program is a simplistic and misleading 5-question survey form that starts with the premise that "some politicians want to cut" Medicare and Social Security. What I've heard is that
The survey questions themselves are incredibly simplistic and juvenile, none more so than asking someone if they "want to be heard" after they've filled out the questionairre. Ignore the propaganda effort of the AARP. Cancel your insurance the next time you can. Don't send in your membership dues. Let's put these bozos out of business (and that's what AARP is, a business).
Who would have thought an apparently neutral organization like Consumer Reports would be spreading misinformation about Medicare (and RomneyCare), apparently for some political reason given the way that all the misinformation slants left. A recent article on the Consumer Reports web site, picking up on the drumbeat of "Romney didn't take Medicare" musings seriously misinforms Consumer Reports readers.
The article is seriously misleadng to all U.S. senior citizens, with some particular misinformation for all Massachusetts residents. It's hard to believe so much misleading information could get packed into such a small article.
A "new" academic research article dated October 2011 about Massachusetts health care reform has become available in the last few days on this Austrian-based website. The "new" research has all kinds of problems in general -- in the data it uses, in its methodology, and so forth -- but on page 29, the article contains the following statement about Medicare in Massachusetts (removing some academic references):
“One striking result from the subsample analysis is that the reform appears to have influenced the health of those over 65 despite their access to Medicare. Not all seniors are eligible for free Medicare Part A, only those who have paid Medicare taxes for at least ten years (or whose spouse has done so). Indeed, Kolstad and Kowalski observe a modest but statistically significant decrease in the uninsured rate of those aged 65 to 74 following the reform. Moreover, Part A only covers hospitalization – not physician services or prescription drugs – and has an $800 deductible plus co-payments after 60 hospital days. Filling these gaps in coverage requires the purchase of Medigap, Medicare Part B/Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Part D plans. Kolstad and Kowalski show that Chapter 58 increased the proportion of seniors reporting Medicaid (rather than Medicare) as their primary source of insurance, suggesting that the reform resulted in some seniors obtaining more comprehensive coverage...”
That paragraph contains both incorrect and misleading information and is potentially injurious to senior citizens who might happen to stray across it (or worse -- another bunch of eggheads might think it accurate and use it as their research).
Politico is reporting that former Massachusetts Governor and presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will not sign up for Medicare despite turning 65 today, March 12, 2012.
This is a teachable moment in two ways:
First, the Politico article introduces some concepts that are worth understanding if you are about to turn 65. Politico is not correct in saying that Romney has “another seven months to sign up” for Medicare. He only has three months more to sign up after March 31. He had three months prior to his birthday month in which he could have signed up in advance. It is those seven months that I believe Politico is referring to (the three before 3/1, the three after 3/31, and the birthday month itself), know as the "initial enrollment period."
The Democratic political party in the United States has been tied up in knots for the last few months because one of its members, Senator Wyden of Oregon, joined with a Republican to propose a no-nonsense, no-politics reform of Medicare. Medicare will run out of money in from five to 15 years depending on which estimate you read, which is why some kind of reform is needed. No one from President Obama to Rand Paul disagrees that Medicare has to be restructured and/or refinanced but everyone disagrees on how.
The lines seem to be drawn between