Blogger Ronni Bennett has put up some must-read posts outlining an initiative designed to have a huge impact on Social Security and Medicare. In fact, the initiators want to dismantle both “entitlement” programs. 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have any problem collecting that money. There’s nothing slimy to me about the word entitlement when it comes to Social Security and Medicare. 

I clearly remember those two itemized deductions printed on my paystubs, every two weeks, over 37 years in the full-time workforce. As far as I’m concerned, I’m getting back  MY own money, with interest. They just held it for me to make sure I didn't spend it too early. A wise move...

But, I digress. I urge you to read Ronni’s two reports, written with clarity and passion, at. They will make your hair stand on end:
http://www.timegoesby.net/weblog/2009/12/the-war-against-social-security-and-medicare.html#comments
http://www.timegoesby.net/weblog/2009/11/the-secret-war-on-social-security-and-medicare.html 


Here’s economist Barbara Kennelly’s take on what’s really worth worrying about (hint—we’re trying to reform it):
… a CBO analysis explains that if every entitlement in the federal budget were repealed outright — eliminating Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other critical programs — but nothing were done to slow the growth in health care costs overall, we would still find ourselves spending almost 70 percent of the nation’s wealth on health care by 2082. On the other hand, if the rate of growth in overall health care is restrained so it is no longer growing faster than the rest of the economy, Medicare’s long-range financial deficit could be cut by well over one-half.

Contrary to the political crisis rhetoric, the Social Security Trustees report that Social Security will have sufficient funds to pay full benefits through 2041. Even better, the CBO projects that full benefits can be paid through 2049. No other federal program is subject to such strict, long-term spending restrictions and oversight.

The Social Security Trustees report every year on the income and outgo of the fund over a 75-year period. Over the next 75 years, Social Security has a funding gap, but that gap is both modest and manageable. Moreover, even if no changes at all were made in Social Security, and no one is recommending that, incoming revenues after 2041 would be sufficient enough to finance 78 percent of benefits.

Barbara B. Kennelly
published in Roll Call, March 11, 2009
http://www.rollcall.com/news/33061-1.html 

 
 
Have you wondered why health insurance costs have skyrocketed in recent years?

And, are you inclined to think we need more competition in order to lower costs? If so, you’re probably hoping Congress will see fit to tighten anti-trust regulations in whatever health care reform measures come out of both houses, while the insurance companies are begging for exemptions.


Fact is, the most egregious anti-trust infractions have already occurred, according to the blog Cab Drollery, published by a California attorney.

Blogger Diane lays it all out, citing a Los Angeles Times story that explains how, during the Bush years, more than 400 health insurance mergers occurred under the noses of Justice Dept. watchdogs, who sniffed at only two: 

Health economist James Robinson found in 2003 that three large firms controlled more than 50% of enrollment in almost every state -- and that was before the biggest insurers launched a huge effort to snarf up their chief competitors, a trend exemplified by the 2004 mega-merger of WellPoint Health Networks Inc. and Anthem Inc. By 2008, according to the American Medical Assn., in nearly 90% of the metropolitan areas of the country, a single insurer controlled 30% or more of the market.

Is it merely a coincidence that health premiums have soared over the last decade -- up by 131% for family coverage from 1999 to 2009, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation?

"Competition in the health insurance industry is insufficient," Leemore S. Dafny, a health economist at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management, told me last week. "It's becoming less competitive over time and it's causing higher premiums than we otherwise would see."
[Emphasis added]


See http://cabdrollery.blogspot.com/2009/11/red-herrings-are-not-kipper-snacks.html for the entire enlightening blogpost.