Why the Elderly Might Want to Stall the Health-Care Debate

August 31 2009, 11:48 AM
With 94 percent of senior Medicare clients satisfied with their coverage (that's according to a recent poll by Suffolk University), it is in the interest of older Americans to stall the health care debate. Many of them don't fear threats to the government-run system---the AARP has lost "tens of thousands of members" over its perceived endorsement of health care proposals, writes The Denver Post. But U.S. Representative Mike Coffman points out, the AARP "is in the middle right now, and they've lost members. I don't think they've been an effective voice at all." Republicans such as Coffman have had some success in stoking fears that reforms would result in cuts to Medicare and have even drafted a "bill of rights" stating opposition to any rationing of care. The word "rationing," though, is laden with politics, notes Ezra Klein at The Washington Post: "We ration. We ration without discussion, remorse or concern. We ration health care the way we ration other goods: We make it too expensive for everyone to afford." But can the government afford health care much longer? The Congressional Budget Office estimates that spending on Medicare and Medicaid (insurance for the poorest Americans) will account for most of the growth in federal spending in the next 25 years, according to The New York Times. Even Democratic Congresswoman Betsy Markey was recently "pushing the fiscal conservative viewpoint that Medicare spending has to be restrained in order to bring the budget deficit under control," writes Fort Collins Coloradoan editor Bob Moore.