HCAO News

Bill Moyers Essay: Everyone Should Be Entitled to Medicare

Moyers was an aide to President Johnson when he signed the bill for Medicare.

Moyers and Johnson, 1965

Moyers and Johnson, 1965

From the transcript, August 3, 2012

BILL MOYERS: I read a news story this week that sent me on a nostalgic trip down memory lane. This past Monday, July 30th was the 47th anniversary of Medicare, and to celebrate it, the “Raging Grannies,” as they’re known, gathered outside the county office building in Rochester, New York to protest rumored cuts to their Medicare coverage.

RAGING GRANNIES: This old grey granny now needs a test or two --

BILL MOYERS: They praised Medicare in song as “the best deal we have in the country,” and even called for expanding it Medicare into universal health care for everyone.

It seems the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, was coming up from Washington to raise funds for Republican congressional candidate Maggie Brooks. The “Raging Grannies” wanted to make certain Ms. Brooks didn’t sign on to the GOP budget which includes cuts to Medicare.

For myself, the “Raging Grannies” channeled a familiar voice, the Texas twang of my boss back in 1965, Lyndon Baines Johnson. I was a White House assistant at the time and had been working with the President and others on the team trying to get Medicare through Congress. Even with overwhelming Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, it was one tough fight. Others had tried before us.

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State prepares study of health care payment models

EO MEDIA GROUP - The Legislature has authorized a study of various health care payments

EO MEDIA GROUP - The Legislature has authorized a study of various health care payments

Capital Insider, July 31, 2015
by Peter Wong

Different groups have differing expectations for a study of how Oregon should pay for health care — a study that lawmakers authorized two years ago but did not fund until now.

The Legislature set aside $300,000 in the new two-year budget to fund the study, which will be carried out through the Oregon Health Authority. House Bill 2828, which extends the study authorization for two years, also allows for donations.

Courtni Dresser of the Oregon Medical Association, which contributed, said: “The results of this study could serve to strengthen the existing coordinated-care organization (CCO) system, as well as identify other innovative strategies to provide cost-effective care to all Oregonians.

But Jenn Baker, speaking for the Oregon Nurses Association, envisions the study as a step toward a system under which the government pays all health care bills.

“They (nurses) also understand that the state must have an adequate and stable financing plan to move towards a statewide single-payer system,” Baker said.

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Note from Wes Brain, Health Care for All--Rogue Valley

Rep. Peter Buckley

Rep. Peter Buckley

July 29, 2015

Representative Peter Buckley cannot attend Southern Oregon's "Medicare 50" celebration event tomorrow, although he did send the following statement which will be read at the 6pm press conference.

“July 30, 2015--Thanks to all of you for being here to celebrate Medicare and our shared commitment to make sure everyone in our country receives the care they need. In spite of ferocious opposition—an opposition that continues to this very day—Medicare is a tremendous success story. In our state alone, over 600,000 Oregonians receive vital care through Medicare, and over 500,000 Oregonians receive care through Medicaid.  This is who we are as a state and a country. We care for our families and our communities, and we will not rest until every single person in Oregon and in the U.S. has access to high quality, affordable health care. The voices of opposition are on the wrong side of history. We need to build on 50 years of saving lives, 50 years of strengthening our families and our communities, and expand Medicare. There is no going back, only going forward. I’m grateful for the generations of Americans who have brought us progress in healthcare for our families, and it’s up to us to expand that progress for decades to come.”

--Oregon State Representative Peter Buckley, District 5.

Zombies Against Medicare

     Paul Krugman

     Paul Krugman

New York Times Opinion Page, July 27, 2015
by Paul Krugman

Medicare turns 50 this week, and it has been a very good half-century. Before the program went into effect, Ronald Reagan warned that it would destroy American freedom; it didn’t, as far as anyone can tell. What it did do was provide a huge improvement in financial security for seniors and their families, and in many cases it has literally been a lifesaver as well.

But the right has never abandoned its dream of killing the program. So it’s really no surprise that Jeb Bush recently declared that while he wants to let those already on Medicare keep their benefits, “We need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others.”

What is somewhat surprising, however, is the argument he chose to use, which might have sounded plausible five years ago, but now looks completely out of touch. In this, as in other spheres, Mr. Bush often seems like a Rip Van Winkle who slept through everything that has happened since he left the governor’s office — after all, he’s still boasting about Florida’s housing-bubble boom.

Actually, before I get to Mr. Bush’s argument, I guess I need to acknowledge that a Bush spokesman claims that the candidate wasn’t actually calling for an end to Medicare, he was just talking about things like raising the age of eligibility. There are two things to say about this claim. First, it’s clearly false: in context, Mr. Bush was obviously talking about converting Medicare into a voucher system, along the lines proposed by Paul Ryan.

And second, while raising the Medicare age has long been a favorite idea of Washington’s Very Serious People, a couple of years ago the Congressional Budget Office did a careful study and discovered that it would hardly save any money. That is, at this point raising the Medicare age is a zombie idea, which should have been killed by analysis and evidence, but is still out there eating some people’s brains.

But then, Mr. Bush’s real argument, as opposed to his campaign’s lame attempt at a rewrite, is just a bigger zombie.

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Happy Birthday, Medicare

Robert Reich

Robert Reich

Next week, Medicare turns 50—originally signed into law on July 30, 1965. While Medicare is so popular, it continues to be blamed for America’s present and future budget problems when actually it's the greatest solution.

July 25, 2015 | NationofChange | Op-Ed
by: Robert Reich

Medicare turns fifty next week. It was signed into law July 30, 1965 – the crowning achievement of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. It’s more popular than ever.

Yet Medicare continues to be blamed for America’s present and future budget problems. That’s baloney.

A few days ago Jeb Bush even suggested phasing it out. Seniors already receiving benefits should continue to receive them, he said, but “we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something, because they’re not going to have anything.”

Bush praised Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to give seniors vouchers instead. What Bush didn’t say was that Ryan’s vouchers wouldn’t keep up with increases in medical costs – leaving seniors with less coverage.

The fact is, Medicare isn’t the problem. In fact, it’s the solution.

Its costs are being pushed upward by the rising costs of health care overall – which have slowed somewhat since the Affordable Care Act was introduced but are still rising faster than inflation.

Medicare costs are also rising because of the growing ranks of boomers becoming eligible for Medicare.

Medicare offers a way to reduce these underlying costs – if Washington would let it.

Let me explain.

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