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Debate: Privatizing Medicare

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  • Private Medicare accounts would cost government more. Paul Starr. "No Controlling for Costs." The New York Times. April 4th, 2011: "there is no reason to believe that turning Medicare entirely over to private insurers would contribute to a solution. Historically, the traditional Medicare program has matched — and by some measures exceeded — the performance of private insurers in controlling costs. Under the payment methods that Republicans introduced in 2003, the private Medicare Advantage plans have actually cost the federal government more than the same beneficiaries would have cost if they had enrolled in traditional Medicare."
  • Privatizing Medicare eliminates important elderly rights. Paul Starr. "No Controlling for Costs." The New York Times. April 4th, 2011: "The traditional Medicare program guarantees the elderly a series of rights to specific benefits and protections. Abolishing that program would eliminate those rights. If health-care cost growth exceeded the capped growth rate for 'premium support' and the benefits eroded, it would no longer be the government’s responsibility."
  • Privatization reduces costs to govt, but not total costs. Paul Starr. "No Controlling for Costs." The New York Times. April 4th, 2011: "The focus of reform should be on controlling the total costs of health care, not just the costs to the government. The traditional Medicare program has served as a valuable platform for introducing methods of cost containment that have spread more widely, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 sets in motion new pilot programs for bundling payment and value-based purchasing that offer promise as general means of cost restraint. Congressman Ryan’s plan is just a way of getting the government off the hook."
  • Privatizing Medicare is about giving a boon to insurers. Insurers already offer coverage to Medicare recipients through Medicare Advantage plans. Privatizing the system would be a tremendous business opportunity for the industry, notes Ana Gupte, an analyst with Bernstein Research, to the New York Times in April of 2011. The private Medicare market, she estimates, could be a $1.2 trillion business by 2031.[1]


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