Medicare debate is fueled by ignorance

May 28, 2011

Your editorial, "Their own medicine" (May 27) states, "Tables are turned as opposition to health care reform earns Democrats a win, but the long term implications of leaving Medicare untouched should give pause." This tells me that you are not reading the very articles you are printing. And the general public as well as the legislators we elect have neither read nor understood the federal health care reform law that has already been passed.

On May 23, you published an article in your paper's commentary section written by Gene M. Ransom, CEO of the Maryland Medical Society, titled "Protect Maryland doctors, patients." Mr. Ransom argues, rather vigorously in this article, against the Independent Payment Advisory Board — IPAB — a new body that will be set up to enforce annual Medicare spending caps. The IPAB will consist of 15 presidential appointees who will not be answerable to Congress or to the public. Starting in 2015, IPAB members can make independent decisions to cut Medicare providers as well as drug reimbursement benefits in order to meet annual Medicare spending caps. Mr. Ransom rightly worries that from 2015 on when the IPAB is in full swing, making draconian cuts that can only be reversed by a three-fifths majority in Congress, doctors will flee Medicare, and Medicaid will be shredded. To add insult to injury, the IPAB's decisions cannot be appealed by doctors or patients and Congress will be hard put to overrule this autonomous body unless it passes cuts that meet the same spending targets.

The IPAB is a creation of the Democrats. Rep. Paul Ryan has been excoriated for his reform proposals that would mandate Medicare patients to buy health insurance in the private market. Mr. Ryan wants Medicaid to be a block grant program run purely by the states, and this too has earned him the wrath of a majority of voters. All of this political ruckus has resulted in New York's 26th district, a Republican stronghold, going to Democrat Kathy Hoschul who adroitly walked into her victory by denouncing Mr. Ryan's reform proposals, meant to balance our budget and reduce our debt.

What a happy situation for the Democrats that the American democracy churns on the wheels of ignorance. Of course the Democrats won't advertise the IPAB to the electorate. I suggest to the Republicans, come 2012, run ads showing grandma on top of Mount Rushmore, ready to be rolled off into the valley below, her horrible plight to be witnessed by the greatest of our past presidents, the 15 members of the IPAB doing the pushing, as engineered by the Democrats.

Usha Nellore, Bel Air

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