All of the Medicare reform proposals that Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) listed in his June 10 Washington Forum piece, “Medicare in 2031?,” including those that “simplify” coverage, save the government money by shifting greater costs onto people with Medicare.
The Medicare population is often mischaracterized as wealthy. But half of the current Medicare population has household incomes below $22,000, and the next generation of Medicare beneficiaries will not fare much better. The Medicare population already spends 15 percent of its income on health care — 10 percent more than the non-Medicare population. Increasing what people pay for Medicare will mean that many with Medicare will be unable to afford the care they require.
Better solutions include requiring the government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare, cutting all overpayments to private health plans, allowing generally healthier people between 55 and 65 to buy into Medicare, and fully implementing the Affordable Care Act, which achieves Medicare savings without harming beneficiaries. These solutions get at the root cause of rising Medicare spending, which is the growth of costs in the health-care sector, and cut wasteful spending.
Joe Baker, New York
Judith Stein, Willimantic, Conn.
The writers are, respectively, president of the Medicare Rights Center and executive director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy.
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman has it backward. While most people would agree with the senator that the wealthy should pay more for health care — applying progressive principles to Medicare funding — he also wants to achieve Medicare solvency by raising the eligibility age to 67, in other words, by serving fewer people and shutting the door to many who would be unable to secure affordable health insurance in the private market.
But, as most experts agree, our problem is the soaring cost of medical care, as a whole, not Medicare, which is the most frugal part of our
non-system. And the only way to control medical costs is via a single-payer system that covers everyone, so the government has leverage to tamp down excessive costs and eliminate waste, including the wasteful costs devoted to private-insurance overhead.
Providing Medicare coverage for everyone, regardless of age, is the only way to provide quality health care to all Americans without bankrupting our country.
Mary von Euler, Bethesda
The writer is secretary of Americans for Democratic Action.
I wrote the letter about Joe Lieberman’s having it wrong. It’s not a cut-and-paste job, nor
copied or sent anywhere else. No one told me or encouraged me to write it, and my real
name is Mary von Euler. My only affiliation is as Secretary and long-time National Board
member of Americans for Democratic Action, which advocates for many issues pertaining to
social justice. I have a long-time interest in providing universal, comprehensive, high quality
health care to all Americans. I would be pleased to be listed as “
While I appreciate your interest in shortening the letter, and I think most of your cuts were
sound, there were two points of information that I would prefer not to omit: first, after
“serving fewer people” I would like to cite Alice Rivlin’s point that the 65-67-year-olds are
“just the ones who would be unable to buy insurance in the private market.”
I would also like to add, after “private insurance overhead” “30% of medical costs of private
Mary von Euler
301-229-6085 (day and evening, no cell phone.)
firstname.lastname@example.org 5900 Ramsgate Road Bethesda, MD 20816-1128 tel:301-229-6085