Cutting Medicare shifts burden but does nothing to limit rising costs

April 12, 2011

Jay Hancock writes as if liberals and arithmetic are on opposite sides and liberals are just wishful thinkers ("Fixing Medicare means sacrifice," April 10). That is silly, and no credit to him. Arithmetic is used to find results derived from premises which may be ideological, factual, or both, and the conclusions it allows are as various as the starting points. For the conclusions to be useful, the premises need to be factually accurate; for the conclusions to be ethical, the premises must be also.

"Liberals," aka health economists, physicians, and public health experts, have repeatedly and very patiently used arithmetic to explain that the costs of health care are forced up by the uncontrolled drive for profits in pharmaceuticals, insurance, and health care organizations. The only way to control those costs is to impose stringent limits on the profit motive, and the surest and most efficient way to do that is by providing universal single-payer healthcare, otherwise known as Medicare for all.

To take the opposite approach, cutting rather than extending Medicare, does nothing to limit the ongoing rise of costs. It simply moves those costs from the federal budget to the individual budgets of already beleaguered Americans. It is a recipe for more preventable deaths, more bankruptcies, more lost productivity and economic decline.

You cannot solve a functional problem by creative bookkeeping. Until you address the root causes, it will still be there and growing, regardless of whose books it is on.

Katharine W. Rylaarsdam, Baltimore

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