Monday, July 30, 2007

It Should Be an Easy Choice

There has been a lot of activity in the SCHIP/Medicare debate in the House last week and today in the full Senate. Kaiser Daily Health Report has a nice editorial roundup of the debate.

But we’ve also seen a number of blog discussions in which it’s clear even those who are paying attention to this debate are still confused about the players. So, here it is in a nutshell.

Virtually every major health and senior’s advocacy group (NCPSSM, AMA, Medicare Rights Center, AARP, Families USA, etc.) supports the House SCHIP/Medicare act called the Children’s Health and Medicare Protection Act or “CHAMP”.These organizations are supporting cuts in industry subsidies…not cuts to seniors. For advocates committed to senior and health issues this is a no-brainer. Here is the AMA/AARP ad.

The only "seniors group" fighting against CHAMP is an organization created by the insurance industry. Here’s their ad.

So, it’s easy to see how people are confused. But CHAMP does not take away seniors’ Medicare. It does require Medicare Advantage private insurers to be paid at the same rate as traditional Medicare, ending the industry gravy train, which has meant hefty profits to insurance companies collecting billions in taxpayer supported subsidies at the same time.

The New York Times’ Paul Krugman, sums up the debate this way:

“The House plan, which would cover more children, is more expensive, but it offsets Schip costs by reducing subsidies to Medicare Advantage -- a privatization scheme that pays insurance companies to provide coverage, and costs taxpayers 12 percent more per beneficiary than traditional Medicare. Strange to say, however, the administration, although determined to prevent any expansion of children's health care, is also dead set against any cut in Medicare Advantage payments. So what kind of philosophy says that it's O.K. to subsidize insurance companies, but not to provide health care to children?”

Industry subsidies or children’s healthcare…it should be an easy choice.

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