Reed and Robertson on Medicare

Jason Jordan, in the Hornell Evening Tribune, in an article posted Oct. 14, 2014, writes about Tom Reed and Martha Robertson’s views on Medicare.

Hands off Social SecurityHe first quotes Martha Robertson:

“For all the seniors across the Southern Tier, Finger Lakes, and Western New York, I am making a simple pledge: I will protect Medicare. I will fight efforts to cut benefits, raise the retirement age, or privatize this essential program. This is an earned benefit that today’s seniors have paid into their entire working lives, and is an absolutely critical program that allows older Americans and future retirees to retire with dignity.”

Jordan comments:

It seems that Robertson has stuck to her promise, continually calling the protection of Medicare and Social Security her “number one priority.”

Tom Reed’s position is given by his spokesperson, Katherine Pudwill.

“Tom Reed is fighting to protect the promise we have made to our seniors,” said Reed campaign spokesperson Katherine Pudwill.

What promise is that, one wonders?

“As someone who was raised on military death benefits and a Social Security check, Tom knows just how important these programs are,” Pudwill said.

Good, but so what? Which programs, military death benefits and SS? Wasn’t the subject Medicare?

She also pointed to Reed’s record, citing his co-sponsorship of the Older Americans Act which supports meals on wheels, support for rural hospitals in front of key committees, and authorship of the HOSPICE Act as examples of his protecting the interests of seniors.

Again good, but again off topic.

“Tom Reed is willing to do the work and find a solution while Robertson relies on the programs for campaign talking points without any plans of her own to solve the problem,” she continued.

Really, Ms. Pudwill? What solution; what problem?

While neither Jordan nor Pudwill say it, Reed’s views on SS and Medicare are well known: he says both are unsustainable unless benefits are cut for future retirees.

I am left with the conclusion that Tom Reed’s campaign is very reluctant to discuss his views on Medicare at least until after the election.

© William Hungerford – October 2014

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25 Responses to Reed and Robertson on Medicare

  1. BOB McGILL says:

    are you that lost Willy ? with the number of retired people collecting benefits increasing something has to give.…/can-you-put-in-some-overtime-social-security- needs-you‎CachedSimilar
    Sep 19, 2012 … The value of Social Security benefits keeps rising – while the number of workers
    per recipient keeps falling. From 1970 to 2010, the ratio of ……/did-you-really-pay-for-your-medicare-benefits/‎CachedSimilar
    Mar 7, 2013 … An even greater backlash awaits any politician who dares to tell Medicare
    recipients, “You didn’t pay for that”—for there are far more seniors …

    The amount that American workers have paid and are paying into Medicare isn’t enough to fund all the benefits that are being paid out to seniors under Medicare. The trustees of Medicare have stated that the promises they have made exceed their projected revenues by tens of trillions of dollars. Senator Tom Coburn (a physician in private life) has estimated that the average American couple contributes approximately $110,000 to Medicare over their working careers and receives over $330,000 of Medicare benefits. On Feb. 20, USA Today cited Urban Institute data pegging those same figures at $88,000 and $387,000, respectively.


  2. whungerford says:

    Bob, your view seems much like Tom Reed’s–people need no more medical care than they can afford. I don’t agree. Medical care is necessary. Measures to keep costs down are reasonable, but measures to shortchange seniors by making care unaffordable are not.


  3. BOB McGILL says:

    Martha can’t have it both ways.
    Medicare and Social Security — not defense — are driving debt, says Marco Rubio
    By Amy Sherman on Friday, November 22nd, 2013 at 2:06 p.m.

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., gave a speech about foreign policy at the conservative American Enterprise Institute Nov. 20. After his speech, a Floridian in the audience asked him a question about how to convince Americans to support consistent defense spending.
    During part of his answer, Rubio made some claims about the debt.
    “The reason we have a national debt is not because of defense spending. What is driving our long-term debt are Medicare and Social Security programs that are structured in unsustainable ways.”
    We decided to check in with several economists across the political spectrum and ask if Rubio’s assessment about the debt was correct.

    Medicare, Social Security and defense

    The economists we interviewed generally agreed that Medicare and Social Security account for huge chunks of our long-term debt. However, they also said that defense spending is also a factor, and some experts noted that Rubio left out a couple of other important factors: interest payments on the debt and Medicaid.

    Rubio didn’t quantify the role of defense in our national debt or specify a timeframe, he simply said that debt isn’t due to defense spending.

    But it’s a bit too simplistic to let defense spending entirely off the debt hook.

    “It is incorrect to say our current debt has nothing to do with defense spending, because we spend a lot of money on national defense every year, and we have large deficits — therefore defense spending is one of the causes of our debt increase,” said Josh Gordon of the centrist Concord Coalition.

    Chris Edwards of the libertarian Cato Institute sent us numbers which showed that based on 2014 total spending, “defense is 17 percent of the problem, Medicare is 17 percent of the problem, and Social Security is 24 percent of the problem.”

    Rubio zeroed in on the long-term debt and Medicare and Social Security — and there is evidence to support his claim.

    The Congressional Budget Office predicts that spending as a percentage of gross domestic product for entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security will grow much faster than defense. Defense spending will also grow, but at a far slower rate.


  4. James Skaley says:

    Read the latest–and especially the last paragraph and last sentence–CBO indicates that Medicare costs will rise just slightly faster than the GDP in the next decade–elsewhere the actuary for Medicare has testified recently that Medicare is solvent until at least 2030–the sky is not falling, and we have time to redress this issue along with SS. Jim
    The Facts on Medicare Spending and Financing : Kaiser Family Foundation
    Jul 28, 2014
    Both in the aggregate and on a per capita basis, Medicare spending growth has slowed in recent years and is expected to grow at a slower rate in the future than in the past—and even slower than was projected just a few years ago. And in a break from the historical pattern, net Medicare spending is projected to be a roughly constant share of the federal budget and the nation’s economy in the coming decade.
    More recently, total and per capita Medicare spending have grown more slowly each year since 2010. Based on a comparison of CBO’s August 2010 and April 2014 baselines, Medicare spending in 2014 will be about $1,000 lower per person than was expected in 2010, soon after passage of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA).3

    Medicare spending projections in CBO’s August 2010 and subsequent baselines take into account the anticipated effects of the ACA, along with other factors that are expected to affect future Medicare spending. The ACA included reductions in Medicare payments to plans and providers and introduced delivery system reforms that aimed to improve efficiency and quality of patient care and reduce costs, including accountable care organizations (ACOs), medical homes, bundled payments, and value-based purchasing initiatives. The law also increased the Medicare Part A payroll tax rate on earnings for higher-income people and increased Part B and Part D premiums for higher-income beneficiaries. In addition, the Budget Control Act of 2011 lowered Medicare spending through sequestration that reduced payments to providers and plans by 2% beginning in 2013.

    Yet despite annual growth in outlays, net Medicare spending is projected to be a roughly constant share of the federal budget and the nation’s economy in the coming decade. Medicare’s share of the federal budget is projected to be 14.5% in both 2014 and 2024 (varying slightly between these years), while Medicare spending as a share of GDP is projected to be 3.0% in 2014 and 3.2% in 2024 (Exhibit 3). On a per capita basis, Medicare spending is projected to grow at a slower rate between 2013 and 2022 than it did between 2000 and 2012 (4.0% vs. 6.1%) (Exhibit 4). Medicare spending also is projected to grow more slowly than private health insurance spending on a per capita basis in the coming years. According to CBO, in the coming decade (2015-2024), the rate of Medicare per capita spending growth will be roughly in line with growth in GDP per capita, while private health insurance premiums are expected to grow 2 percentage points faster.


  5. BOB McGILL says:

    OK, I read it and this sticks out, ” Medicare spending projections in CBO’s August 2010 and subsequent baselines take into account the anticipated effects of the ACA, along with other factors that are expected to affect future Medicare spending. The ACA included reductions in Medicare payments to plans and providers and introduced delivery system reforms that aimed to improve efficiency and quality of patient care and reduce costs, including accountable care organizations. ” ANTICIPATED ” WHAT DOES THAT MEAN ?
    and this,
    ” In addition, the Budget Control Act of 2011 lowered Medicare spending through sequestration that reduced payments to providers and plans by 2% beginning in 2013.”
    I can see where Medicare spending might be less because my health insurence went up 17.4% and it is going to be adjusted again in January, adjusted my BUTT, nice way of saying it’s going to go up again.


  6. BOB McGILL says:

    Market Conditions Can Allow Providers To Shift Costs To Private Payers To Offset Government Cuts, Health Affairs Article Says

    Forum Examines Controversial Issue: Can Providers
    Offset Medicare, Medicaid Fees By Raising Prices For Other Insurers?

    BETHESDA, Md.—Hospitals and physicians likely can raise prices to private insurers to offset payment reductions from Medicare and other government health programs if market conditions are right, according to a Health Affairs article that clashes with traditional health care economic theory.
    Economist Paul Ginsburg, president of the Center for Studying Health System Change, writes that while most economists are skeptical that such “cost shifting” occurs, he believes that health care providers under certain market conditions can and do raise prices when government programs cut payment rates. The increasing market power of hospitals and physician organizations makes it more likely that they will increase prices to private insurers in response to reductions in administered prices from government programs.

    In an accompanying paper, Jason Lee, president of Health Policy Consulting LLC in Bethesda, Md., and three colleagues write that cost shifting doesn’t often enter into discussions of setting Medicare and Medicaid payment rates because it gets lost in the larger politics of the federal budget. Health care executives and state policymakers are certain that cost shifting occurs, the authors write, with state policymakers making explicit decisions on Medicaid payment rates based on which facilities are best able to shift costs to the private sector. Meanwhile, in a third paper, Michael Morrisey argues that cost shifting occurs only because of a lack of competition in the health care marketplace, and to eliminate the threat of cost shifting we should make health care markets more competitive.

    did ya get this part ?
    Health care executives and state policymakers are certain that cost shifting occurs 🙂


  7. whungerford says:

    Bob’s snowstorm misses the point. If Medicare is underfunded, Congress should fix that without cutting benefits for anyone.
    Bob’s source claims “the average American couple contributes approximately $110,000 to Medicare over their working careers and receives over $330,000 of Medicare benefits. On Feb. 20, USA Today cited Urban Institute data pegging those same figures at $88,000 and $387,000, respectively.” That is a good thing–a modest return on investment. Whether one thinks it too high or too low, it is a good deal either for the individual or the public treasury.


  8. BOB McGILL says:

    REAL GOOD DEAL FOR THE YOUNGER GENERATION THAT YOU’RE SO CONCERNED ABOUT ????? Go ahead raise minimum wage, but you had better make it 20 or 30 dollars and hour because when this bubble bursts it is going to wipe out the average worker.


  9. James Skaley says:

    Sounds like you would agree that we need to address the income inequality concerns in this country–where the top 10% have accumulated all the accrued wealth over the past decade. If we had a tax structure prior to Bush’s 2001 rush to do away with the rebalancing of the deficit under Clinton who by the way gave Bush a surplus that was meant to reduce the overall debt, then there probably would have been ample room to address Medicare as we move through this demographic cycle for the next 30 yrs before we hopefully attain a stable balanced demographic.
    Oh! aside from tax benefits to those who didn’t need it, did I mention that there were a couple scuffles in Iraq and Afghan that we forgot to pay for.

    Tom Reed is in a position on the Tax writing committee to do something to rebalance and correct the income inequality as well as an equitable way to make Medicare secure without sticking it to the middle class whose incomes have been shrinking. Four years in Congress and I’m still waiting hear.


  10. BOB McGILL says:

    obviously you are unaware that Clinton was largely responsible for the mortgage crisis, also the dot com bust that was a total fraud. So your retirement savings was wiped out by a democrat. 🙂
    ” The dot-com bubble (also referred to as the dot-com boom, the Internet bubble and the information technology bubble)[1] was a historic speculative bubble covering roughly 1997–2000 (with a climax on March 10, 2000, ”…/0,28804,1877351_1877350_1877322,00.html‎Similar
    President Clinton’s tenure was characterized by economic prosperity and
    financial deregulation, which in many ways set the stage for the excesses of
    recent years. … which put added pressure on banks to lend in low-income
    With the passage of the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, commercial banks, investment banks, securities firms, and insurance companies were allowed to consolidate. Furthermore, it failed to give to the SEC or any other financial regulatory agency the authority to regulate large investment bank holding companies.[1] ”The legislation was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.– “During debate in the House of Representatives, Rep. John Dingell (Democrat of Michigan) argued that the bill would result in banks becoming “too big to fail.” Dingell further argued that this would necessarily result in a bailout by the Federal Government. ”


  11. whungerford says:

    If Tom thinks Medicare benefits are too generous, he should say so. Using a purported funding shortfall as an excuse to cut benefits is dishonest–opportunism.


  12. josephurban says:

    “anticipated” means that the accountants were able to take into account future offsets…like the millions of dollars in savings due to the closer monitoring of fraud and the lower payments to providers. It is quite common for accountants to take into “account” all factors, not just to pick and choose the ones they like.


  13. josephurban says:

    I have been on Mr Reed’s website. He avoids all mention of Medicare and what he wants to do. He just “supports seniors” every chance he gets. LOL


  14. josephurban says:

    Mr Dingell (D of Michigan) was correct. If only Mr Clinton had a liberal, Democratic Congress to work with instead of the corporate oriented GOP Congress none of the deregulation would have taken place. Alas, it is Congress, not the POTUS, who writes the laws. It is quite amusing that the GOP has held power in Congress and/or the presidency since the 1980s for all but 2 YEARS. (2009-2010) Yet they continue to pretend their failed economic policies are somehow the fault of the Dems. Can’t expect the Dems to clean up 30 years of mess in two short years.


  15. pystew says:

    Maybe Reed can give less tax money to the Oil/Gas Industry to give bonuses to their management. Oh, wait…maybe they would REDUCE their funding to his campaign, which is presently over $143,000!


  16. BOB McGILL says:

    you forgot one 🙂 they also take into account the number of people who die and never collect a dime 🙂


  17. BOB McGILL says:

    so how big is the piece of pie everyone should get when the pie is GONE ?


  18. BOB McGILL says:

    and anyone, like Matha, who says more than that is lying because nobody knows for sure how long the program is going to remain solvent.


  19. James Skaley says:

    As long as Tom Reed and his GOP colleagues sit on their hands and refuse to have a meaningful dialog on raising the income cap and changing the payout on best outcomes instead of pay by the number of procedures hospitals and physicians employ–you are right–and we can point to their legislative inaction as part of the problem. And don’t bother to haul out the old line of providing vouchers and private insurance with tax credits as the solution–which is what Reed supports. If you don’t have sufficient income, tax credits are of no value. If you think doing away with Medicare is a good thing–then say so–I think most seniors would find that to be helpful in determining how they might vote on November 4. Mr Reed’s solution for Medicare is death by a thousand cuts.


  20. josephurban says:

    “Noboby knows for sure…”. So, when Tom Reed and other claim that Medicare and SS are not sustainable they are simply saying something they cannot support ? I agree. No one knows FOR SURE. But we do know this FOR SURE. Right now, poor people and the middle class pat a higher percentage of their income to SS and Medicare than do the wealthy. A fair tax system would not put the higher burden on the workers, would it?We also know FOR SURE that raising the taxable income rate would bring in billions of dollars; that means-testing benefits would bring in billions of dollars and stabilize the system for the next 100 years. Easy solutions.


  21. BOB McGILL says:

    you can’t make a poor man rich by making a rich man poor, ever here that one. Keep it up and you will tax the top 1% right out of the country.…/europe/…/Frances-proposed-tax-hikes-spark-exodus- of-wealthy.html‎Similar
    Jul 16, 2012 … … of France’s most well-heeled families selling up and moving to neighbouring countries. … “Now a large number of wealthy French families are leaving the …
    Public consent on Europe is ‘fragile’, the foreign secretary told the …


  22. josephurban says:

    “Two’s company and three’s a crowd”. Very profound, don’t you think? Gee. You mean the top 1% are going to move to…uh…Russia? France? Britain? China? …OKAY. Let them go. The country will continue to function quite well. You think they have any loyalty to any nation? Is that why Mitt has hidden his financial accounts in the Cayman Islands? Because he is a “loyal” American and wants to pay his fair share of taxes ?
    Here’s a statistic for you: The top 1% own 35% of the wealth in the US. The top 20% own 89% of the wealth in the US. The bottom 80 % own 11% of the wealth in the US.
    Here is another one. The AVERAGE increase of a CEOs pay since 1990 is 298%. Corporate profits are up over 100% in the same time period. The average increase in a workers pay over the same period is 4%. Minimum wage workers saw real wages drop over 9% in the same time period.
    What does this all mean? It could mean that the average CEO works 290 times harder than the average worker. And the average minimum wage worker now works 9% less hard than she did in 1990. OR, it could mean that the tax laws, government regulations, state governments, etc. have devised systems to transfer wealth from the creators of wealth to the chosen few.
    I hope you are correct and we see a mass exodus of the top 1% out of the US. China and Russia are waiting with open arms. Somehow, I think, the average American would survive…actually…thrive.


  23. whungerford says:

    Tom Reed has said he is amenable to raising the income cap; under what conditions is unclear. One thing is clear: America, a first world country, can afford social security benefits at current rates if it has the political will to do so.


  24. Thank you for sharing my work, I always appreciate it. I believe my job as a journalist in this case was to present a balanced article in the words of the two candidates, and allow the reader to draw their own conclusions about the content. As it was a news article and not an editorial assignment for a blog I could only offer so much of my own opinion. I’m glad you came to the conclusion you did, but I also hope you recognize that you came to that conclusion in part because of how the information was presented. For that reason, to infer that I was somehow unknowing of the fact that I was asking questions about Social Security and Medicare and getting answers about Hospice and Meals on Wheels despite having written it that way is a bit off the mark.


  25. whungerford says:

    Jason, thanks for your article and your comment here. Reviewing what I wrote, I don’t see anything that implies that you were in any way unknowing. If you feel that I suggested that it was you rather than Reed’s spokesperson who dodged the question, I apologize–that wasn’t my intent.


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