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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Social Security, Medicare and Cherry Blossoms

It’s too early to say with definiteness that the greatest government insurance system in the world is on the brink of falling down. But I’m going to say it anyway – yes, the greatest government insurance system in the world is on the brink of falling down.

And the issue is just too hot to handle. So says the article from Los Angeles Times.

Apparently, the problem is that the program, which helps millions of elderly and disabled Americans, is unsustainable in the future. The program was reported to be facing “double jeopardy from rapidly rising healthcare costs and an aging society.”

The trustees released a report, which shows that Medicare spending will surpass Social Security in 2028 and grow to almost double the cost of the pension program in 2082.

Medicare’s problem was said to be “part of the larger dilemma of rising healthcare costs.” The article stated some proposals to prevent them.
1. Better coordination of care for the chronically ill
2. Pay doctors and hospitals for quality instead of sheer volume of services
3. Reduction of prescription drug costs
4. Emphasizing preventive healthcare

Somewhere else, some groups are blaming medical-related suits, thus blaming the lawyers, for the rising costs of healthcare. Now, that is unfair.

Medical malpractice suits arise not because there are lawyers, but because there are doctors who are careless and negligent. If doctors do their job well, there will be no suits. If they can’t do their job well, lawyers will come and do their own job that is, suing the doctors.

In medical malpractice suits, lawyers are just doing their job. Just as much as doctors are doing theirs. Arguably, the blaming game against lawyers must stop there. It isn’t us who should be blamed.

Anyway, the Congress is on its way in producing a Medicare bill that intends to forestall a cut in payments to doctors. Some are optimistic that it would help solve Medicare and other Social Security problems.

In the meanwhile, there is a growing sense of frustration in the country today. To borrow the words of another frustrated Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Levitt, “American’s sensitivity to entitlement warnings has become numbered by a repeated cycle of alarms and inaction.”

Here comes the good part, “We noted today in Washington that the cherry blossoms are out. That’s the way spring is in Washington. We see the cherry blossoms and hear Medicare warnings. The cherry blossoms go away, and nothing happens with Medicare.”