American Association

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American Association of Retired Persons better known as AARP has come up with a booklet, or in this case a PDF, talking about The Future of Medicare: 15 Proposals You Should Know About. I won’t use all fifteen.

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                AARP believes that since most of us have paid into Medicare during our working years, or are still paying it, we should have a voice in what decisions Washington DC is making. The Pro and Con analysis are made by Henry J. Arron, Ph.D., of the Brookings Institution and Stuart Butler, Ph.D., of the Heritage Foundation.

                On proposal is to raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67. To listen to those who back this proposal they make it seem like it will make a huge difference to the cost of Medicare. “By increasing the eligibility age slowly over 10 or 15 years to at least 67… this would reduce Medicare’s cast by about 5%” (as cited in AARP by Stuart Butler 2012 p.5). Five percent may seem like a lot, but in the grand scheme of our Nations Budget, it is a blip on the screen. The problems outweigh the gaining of five percent. The seniors that are not 67 would have to either continue paying through their work place, if they still have a job, or purchase private insurance. More than likely they must do without. “It would save the federal government little money, raise total health care spending, impose significant financial burdens on many financially vulnerable seniors and impose new cost on businesses and state governments” (as cited in AARP by Henry J. Arron 2012 p.5). 

                Raise Medicare Premiums for Higher-Income Beneficiaries. I must say this is my favorite proposal. On those with annual incomes for individuals above $85,000 and couples above $170,000 would pay as much as 15% more than current rate. “The best way to generate more premium revenue to help pay for Medicare parts B and D is to raise premiums for higher-income seniors. That would improve Medicare’s finances by bringing in more premium revenue, but without imposing burdens on modest-income seniors” (as cited in AARP by Stuart Butler 2012 p.6). Stuart Butler in the Con points out that if that happened then most of the higher-income seniors would either pay outright for their copays or they could purchase private insurance, which would in turn hurt Medicare.

                Increasing Payroll Taxes. At present, employee and employers both pay 1.45% of earnings to Medicare, that is a total of 2.9% paid. The proposal is to increase the rate to 3.9 which would mean 1.95 by employee and employer. “That gap can and should be closed by a modest increase in payroll taxes” (as cited in AARP by Henry J. Arron 2012 p.5).  The other side of the coin is against raising payroll taxes at all. “Doing so will make the situation worse for the economy and for our children and grandchildren, and it will erode the political will to undertake needed reforms” (as cited in AARP by Stuart Butler 2012 p.6). We all know how hard it is to live paycheck to paycheck. Can we afford another slice out of our already small checks?

                I guess since I relate more to the financial problems of the 99%. I am all for asking more in taxes from the 1%. I know, to many of you this is not fair, but rarely is life fair. I would like the proposal of the $85,000 to $170,000 annual income to pay more taxes to support those who cannot afford and increase in what they already pay. The tax should be whether they use Medical or not. Do not give them an out by purchasing private insurance.

                Looking at an issue from Open Secrets. Org in a 2016 issue, it looks like the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, Amgen (biotechnologist), Roche Holdings (pharmaceutical) with the subsidiary Genentech Inc (pharmaceutical), Merck & Co (pharmaceutical). Does anyone else see a trend in lobbying? A total of 4,936 pharmaceutical and insurance companies. That is who has the political ear in Washington DC. Our representatives in Washington DC needs to understand it is our health and wellbeing that they are talking about.  A group called The Center for Responsive Politics has newsletters, tweets, and Facebook were anyone interested in helping can join. I think that enough of us can be heard, then the people in Washington will need to listen.

                “Senior citizens-without blue chip stocks, without millions in expendable liquidity for political campaign contributions-average a meager salary of $22,000. The influence of money has certainly trumped the voices of citizenry in the halls of Congress” (Schuster 2013 para 2). How can a country that could once call itself great, hold its head up with what it is doing to its citizens? “While millions of Americans struggle to pay for their prescription medication, big pharmaceutical companies reap $600 billion in annual profits. $116 million is spent on direct lobbying, and with a 77,500% return, investment certainly pays off” (Schuster 2013 para 3).

                I cannot help but wonder where this will all go. Will our politicians ever realize we put them into office to help make our lives easier, not theirs. I wonder if there will ever come a day that a politician will look across the aisle and say ‘let’s do the job we were sent here to do’? The jaded part of me knows that will never happen. The small voice that holds on to hope, says someday it will.

References

The Center for Responsive Politics. OpenSecrets.Org Medicare & Medicaid Issue Profile 2016

Retrieved from https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/issuesum.php?id=MMM

The Future of Medicare: 15 Proposals You Should Know About (2012)

Retrieved from http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/health/medicare-and-medicaid/2012-05/The-Future-Of-Medicare.pdf

The Great Big PhRMA Medicare Heist Breanne Schuster 2013

Retrieved from http://allianceforajustsociety.org/2013/08/the-great-big-phrma-medicare-heist 

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The presidential nomination process seems unnecessarily complicated. Is there any reason we do not use simple majority votes for presidential nominations and elections? It seems to me there are so many voting options which would better capture the views and interests of the American people. I had a professor of sociology at UW-Madison who went to the Supreme Court fighting for fusion voting, which would allow different political parties to endorse the same candidate. To me, it seems obvious that this should be allowed. Why shouldn’t a third party be able to endorse the same candidate as another? In the end, the Supreme Court ruled against their arguments because they thought that this could completely change the face of American politics. By allowing third parties to endorse candidates, voters could vote for a candidate, but along different party lines. The best example given was Al Gore. If the green party would have been able to endorse Al Gore, all of those green party votes would have surely led to his election. The rationale here was that candidates would be able to see that they are receiving support along different party lines, and thus adjust their policies and campaigns to accommodate differing viewpoints. The end result would be strengthening of third parties and a better representation of true american viewpoints. Run-off voting is another example of an alternative voting strategy which may ensure that votes are not “wasted” on third party candidates. Fear of a wasted vote should not dissuade people from demonstrating their beliefs.  I guess my point in all this is saying that the American political system seems to not want change. Even though these changes may mean a more representative democracy, they may take power from those already in it and it would shake up a system which was developed to move very slowly. 

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