Solving The Issues With The Veteran’s Administration Medical Care

Since the major combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan started winding down, there have been repeated and unsolved issues with providing adequate and timely healthcare for our veterans. Despite repeated assurances and varied lip service out of Washington, things just don’t seem to be getting better. Even with new rules allowing vets who live beyond a 40 mile radius of a VA hospital being allowed to get local medical help…it still isn’t working.

But there is a solution available. It is staring all of us in the face. The Democrats in Washington are afraid to whisper it and the Republicans don’t even have it in their nervous system.

But here it is: Single Payer Universal Healthcare.

Every veteran would automatically be eligible and we can reduce the VA hospitals and dump the money directly into single pay. We can shut down Obamacare and dump all of that cash into single pay. Same with Medicare and Medicaid.

And now is the best time to introduce it…just when the GOP is writing their budget to defund the Affordable Care Act and cut funds for Medicare and Medicaid…yeah we want to replace Obamacare too! With Single Payer Universal Healthcare!

Single Payer Universal Healthcare!!

#ThrowbackThursday – Paul Ryan’s updated “Despicable Me”

Shortly after Rep. Paul Ryan was chosen as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate in 2012, I shared a compilation over at Blogging Blue of some of the really really stupid things Paul Ryan has said and done throughout his career as a politician. In keeping with the theme of that post, here’s an updated version of both that original post and its sequel.

  1. Let’s start with the fact that Rep. Paul Ryan is a professional moocher. Every job he’s held in his adult life has involved drawing a salary from taxpayers.

  2. Paul Ryan is so uninterested in hearing what his constituents have to say to him that he actually charged a $15 admission fee to anyone who wanted to attend one of his town hall meetings.

  3. Though his proposed federal budget cuts a lot of discretionary spending, one program it didn’t cut was government subsidies to the oil industry. Not surprisingly, Paul Ryan’s family directly benefits from those very oil industry subsidies. Apparently government spending that benefits Paul Ryan and conservatives is good, but everything else should be cut, cut cut!

  4. Speaking of budgets, let’s not forget that Paul Ryan has relied on faulty math to justify his draconian budget that would severely cut much of our nation’s social safety net.

  5. While holding himself up as a fiscal conservative, let’s not forget that during his time in Congress Paul Ryan has been anything but a fiscal conservative.

    According to the Congressional Budget Office, the two main contributors to the massive increases in our budget deficits were President Bush’s high income tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 (which coincidentally enough Rep. Ryan voted in favor of) and defense spending. Together the Bush tax cuts and defense spending (which includes the war in Iraq, which Rep. Ryan voted for) account for 85% of the spending that has contributed to our increased budget deficits.

  6. Paul Ryan – and Mitt Romney for that matter – wants to make it harder for students to go to college, proposing in his budget plan to cut Pell Grant funding by $170 billion, resulting in more than 1 million students not being able to go to college.

  7. While Paul Ryan is fond of warning anyone who will listen that our country in in danger of becoming a “collectivist society overseen by a social-welfare state,” Ryan himself benefited directly from the Social Security system to help pay his way through college.

  8. Elitist Paul Ryan really loves to quaff $350 bottles of imported French wine with his lobbyist friends.

  9. Paul Ryan, himself an 8-term Congressman, says he supports term limits – just not in his own case.

  10. While many conservatives are lauding Paul Ryan as an expert on all things budget-related (he’s Chairman of the House Budget Committee, after all), let’s not forget that once upon a time, Ryan actually said he “loves” Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan, a plan that was widely discredited as being unserious and that would actually hurt poor and middle class Americans.

  11. Ryan’s vaunted budget plan? According to economist Paul Krugman it’s essentially nothing more than tax cuts and a huge asterisk.

    The plan is a big bunch of tax cuts, some specified spending cuts, basically for poor people, and then a huge magic asterisk which is supposed to turn into a deficit reduction plan, but, in fact, if you look what’s actually in it, it’s a deficit-increasing plan.

  12. Have I mentioned that Paul Ryan wants to end Medicare as we know it and replace it with a coupon system? Under Ryan’s Medicare “reform” program, the current Medicare system would be replaced with subsidies to help retirees enroll in private health care plans. Notice the word “help,” which is certainly different than the guarantee of health care coverage that Medicare provides. Under Ryan’s plan seniors would be given a coupon and forced to find their own health care coverage, and if the coupon didn’t cover the cost of their coverage, those seniors would be forced to make up the difference. Talk about “throwing granny under the bus…

    Here’s what one constituent of Ryan’s thinks of his plans for Medicare.

  13. Paul Ryan really doesn’t understand his Catholicism very well. While Ryan loves to talk about how his views on government have been shaped by his religion, the Catholic Church of which Ryan is a member teaches that government and other agencies should be “dedicating the equipment, resources and energy so that the greatest number of people can have access” to health care.

  14. Rep. Ryan laughs as a 71 year-old constituent is taken to the ground and then arrested by police at one of Ryan’s town hall meetings.

    It takes a special brand of insensitivity and lack of regard to laugh while an elderly man is being forced to the ground and handcuffed, but apparently Paul Ryan gets his kicks out of seeing his elderly constituents get arrested.

  15. And who can forget Rep. Ryan – himself far from being an ideal Catholic – having the gall to lecture Pope Francis about capitalism?

  16. And last (but most certainly not least), who can forget Rep. Ryan citing a white nationalist to blame poverty on “lazy men in inner cities”?

Solving Unemployment While Destroying Social Security!

Now we have probably all read articles about saving Social Security by raising the minimum retirement age again and raising the age where one earns their maximum benefit. Of course it could simply be saved by eliminating the salary cap…but I think I discussed that elsewhere on Blogging Blue.

But what if we lowered the early retirement age to 60 instead of 62 and the maximum benefit age as well…and lowered the medicare age to 62 or 63. If that would convince a large number of baby boomers to take earlier retirement…we could open up a lot of jobs to the 20 somethings and 30 somethings that are unemployed or underemployed.

Tell the President That Social Security IS NOT On the Table!

New stories today say President Obama is willing to negotiate cuts to the social safety net to resolve the sequestration issue:

These include the Social Security retirement program and Medicare and Medicaid healthcare programs for the elderly, disabled and poor that are becoming more expensive as a large segment of the U.S. population hits retirement age.

Social Security shouldn’t even be pronounced in the same area code as other social safety nets items…it is funded outside the budget…paid for outside the budget…distributed outside the budget…and has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the budget deficit!

Let President Obama and your representatives in Congress know that Social Security must not be in play!

Medicare and the Fiscal Cliff

Representative John Boehner is trying to include cuts and adjustments to Medicare as part of the fiscal cliff negotiations. I won’t deny Medicare needs some serious attention to insure is liquidity for the future. But it is far too important and far too complex to be addressed with sound byte ‘fixes’ during this debate. Medicare deserves it’s own dedicated and thorough discussion outside the heat of this self inflicted crisis.

One more quick hit on this. Rep. Boehner is proposing raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67…a band aid which would save some money…but the 65 and 66 year olds are probably the cheapest group to support in the Medicare community. But let’s use a little common sense here, if an eligibility age is determined to be one part of a solution, rather than a hard age for all, maybe tying it to your full Social Security retirement age would be more appropriate!

Tommy Thompson’s Medicare plan: he’ll “use the computers” to “make the necessary things”

Image courtesy Baldwin for Senate campaign

Here’s Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson explaining his “plan” to reform Medicare:

When I’m elected to the United States Senate, I have a chance to use the computers and have the access to CBO and I’ll be able to make the necessary things.

Here’s some video of Thompson explaining his Medicare “plan,” courtesy of

This guy doesn’t deserve to get elected to the United States Senate.

Tommy Thompson wants to “do away with Medicaid and Medicare” (VIDEO)

“Tea Party” Tommy Thompson, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate here in Wisconsin, wants you to know something:

He’ll “do away with Medicaid and Medicare” if Wisconsin’s voters send him to the United States Senate.

Don’t believe me? Watch “Tea Party” Tommy tell you himself.

As Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive has written, Tommy Thompson’s policies for doing away with Medicaid and Medicare are 100% in line with the policies of of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, with the exception that Romney and Ryan haven’t been quite as blunt as Thompson in announcing their plans to end Medicare and Medicaid as we know those programs.

In the above video, Thompson said, “Let’s block grant what the state has and allow the states to determine what’s going to go into Medicaid.” During an appearance on 60 Minutes on Sunday night, Mitt Romney said virtually the same thing when he said, “I’d take the dollars for those programs, send them back to the states, and say, ‘You craft your programs at your state level and the way you think best.”

In response to Tommy Thompson’s promise to end Medicare and Medicaid as we know them, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) has gotten involved in the U.S. Senate race backing Democratic candidate Tammy Baldwin. The PCCC, which has nearly 27,500 members in Wisconsin, was very active in the 2011 recall elections here in Wisconsin as one of the leading groups running TV ads and mobilizing voters in the state.

To help Tammy Baldwin defeat Tommy Thompson in November, PCCC has set up an ActBlue fundraising page.

Doubling-Down on the Granny Killing

The man who invented the strategy used by Paul Ryan to gut Medicare, one Henry Aaron (no, I’m not making that up) says the plan will not work.  He says many of the assumptions he made during the creation of the plan have proven wrong.  Therefore the plan as a whole should be scrapped.

The basic idea is simple: let people pick their health insurers in the private market, subsidize the premiums, and competition will drive down costs. That’s the theory behind Ryan’s plan, recently endorsed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in a white paper the two wrote.


The big reason is that Aaron has seen no evidence since the two men came up with the idea that their assumptions have been borne out.


But in the case of Medicare Advantage, similar to premium support in that Medicare pays a private insurer to cover someone, the attempts at risk adjustment have raised costs by about 8 percent, Aaron noted. On top of that, although there are many Medicare Advantage plans in existence, they are not cheaper than traditional Medicare, and there’s little to suggest they will get cheaper.

“The evidence to date is not encouraging,” Aaron said, noting a recent study that isolated the effects of competition on Medicare Advantage costs from government-related influences. “After controlling for all those factors, Medicare Advantage plans are more expensive than is traditional Medicare.”

Health insurance does not work as a “free market” product.  The information asymmetries are too great.  Back in 1963, economist Kenneth Arrow wrote the seminal paper on the problems in “marketizing” health insurance.  It boils down to the following characteristics and problems of health insurance:

Look for Paul Ryan to double-down on his granny-killing strategy to create a sub-optimal solution to a problem the rest of the developed world has already solved through government-sponsored single-payer health insurance.

Tammy Baldwin to host two Medicare town hall meetings this week

From my email inbox comes news of two Medicare town hall meetings hosted by Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin, who’s running for the United States Senate this year.

A message from Tammy: Get the facts about Medicare

I was proud to vote no on the Ryan Budget — a failed  plan that would end Medicare as we know it for future generations. Protecting the guaranteed promise of Medicare for tomorrow’s seniors – a promise that has served millions of American seniors  so well for decades — is one of my top priorities.

But there’s too much spin from the radical right wing on this issue, and the facts are lost in the hype and rhetoric.

That’s why I am hosting two town halls next week, called “Medicare: Get the Facts,” and I hope you will join.  These events will set the record straight on the Ryan budget plan and what it means for Wisconsin, and for you.

Click here to RSVP for the Janesville Town Hall with guest Rob Zerban.

Click here to RSVP for the Oak Creek Town Hall with guests Rob Zerban and Chris Larson.

These should be two great events.