Denton County’s U.S. Representative Michael Burgess showed Thursday, that he favors tax breaks for the wealthy over healthcare for seniors. In Thursday's showboating vote on Congressman Ryan's budget, Burgess joined other Republican foot soldiers on a fiscal path that would starve - and one day eliminate- Medicare.
The Ryan budget, which Burgess voted for, cuts half a trillion dollars from Medicare while doling out tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans (who earn more than $150,000 per year.)
Denton County is home to over 30,000 seniors who rely on Medicare. I am shocked that Burgess, an OB-GYN, openly values the wealth of a few over the health of many.
$500 billion in Medicare cuts equates to each Medicare patient losing over a third of per-capita spending. That means larger out of pocket expenses for patients and a loss of access to physicians (who will be forced to take a significant loss on any Medicare patient they see.) Those cuts help finance a tax giveaway for the rich.
Ryan and Burgess want to take away services from our seniors and shortchange our doctors all in the name of wealthcare. It's the worst kind of socialism where spending is redistributed from working and middle class Americans to the top 1%.
Burgess and Ryan argue that the transition from healthcare to wealthcare will be completed over 10 years - therefore current Medicare recipients need not worry. There are nearly 100,000 45-55 year olds in Denton County according to the Census Bureau. If Burgess and Ryan have their way, these workers will have to scramble in order to afford healthcare when they retire.
In effect, Ryan and Burgess have put workers in their 40s and 50s on notice that the promise of Medicare will be broken for them.
These are the very people who currently fund Medicare for Seniors through their taxes and have earmarked their savings to put their kids through college.
The best course of action, it would seem, is to simply become a Millionaire, call yourself a job-creator and enjoy the new tax breaks. For those of us who not lucky enough to become rich, you better not get sick.
David Sanchez, Flower Mound
David Sanchez is the Democratic candidate for U.S. Representative in the 26th Congressional District, which covers most of Denton County, and portions of Tarrant County. Sanchez will face Burgess in the November election.
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Posted: 2012/4/9 17:19 Updated: 2012/4/9 21:07
Re: Burgess joins Ryan in gutting Medicare
The scare tactic of throwing granny over the cliff is alive and well. Entitlements including Medicare are a spending problem. How about some solutions other than more taxes? In case you have not noticed Medicare reimbursement is already so bad that many physicians will not see new Medicare patients. Learn a bit more about healthcare and its funding challenges before you start slinging mud.
Posted: 2012/4/10 10:38 Updated: 2012/4/10 19:17
Re: Burgess joins Ryan in gutting Medicare
We have both a spending and a revenue problem. I, too, am disappointed in Dr. Burgess, who seems to be just a "me too" Congressman. I'd really like to see him make an original statement and demonstrate that he has the best interests of his constituents at heart - and not just towing the party line.
Tax everyone in the US with income over one million dollars at 100%, take ALL their income on a marginal basis. This would provide enough revenue to service the national debt for 200 days. Taxing the rich may certainly be a piece but it is not the entire puzzle. The spending side of the equation has to be addressed in a meaningful way.
Our military budget is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Taking just a small fraction out of that budget would go a long way towards funding health and human services, and still leave us with a military more powerful than all the other top nations combined. Somewhere along the way, it's become politically incorrect for the Republicans to cut military spending - even on programs the Pentagon wants to kill.
We need revenue to increase, but we don't have to tax 100% marginal to do it. Letting the Bush tax cuts expire would have increased the rate somewhere around 2 - 4%, but you would think from the Republican melodramatics that we were asking for 100%.
Your comment about physicians not accepting Medicare patients is absolutely correct. My family doctor had to try several different specialists before finding one who would see me. Dr. Burgess does not have our best interests at heart, there have been solutions proposed that would prevent a Medicare meltdown, the neo-conservatives led by Ryan and Cantor don't want Medicare fixed. Their proposal to have the states take it over and use vouchers so recipients must find their own coverage simply doesn't pass the smell test. Imagine the 80,000 plus Medicare and Medicaid nursing home residents having to take this burden on.
I’m going to side-step the military spending issue here because other than knowing it’s a huge part of the budget, frankly I just don’t know enough about it.
However, healthcare – now I actually to have some knowledge there. I work for a company that focuses on healthcare – a lot of it regarding avoidable readmissions ($17 billion wasted each year according to a fairly recent MedPAC study). We have presented our solutions to CFOs who look at us and ask straight up – ‘Why in the world would I want to keep patients from readmitting?’
The major problem here is the reimbursement system in health care is completely wrong. Most payors, including Medicare, reimburse based on quantity of visits, not on quality of outcomes. The Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) actually makes some strides to address this issue. Hospitals will soon (Oct of this year) be at risk for excess readmissions. There was $500 million dollars set aside to encourage programs that take a vertical view of transitions of care (getting outpatient docs, hospitals, Nursing Homes, Home Health, etc. all pulling in the same direction). Further efforts can be seen with the Pioneer ACO program, Innovation Grants, the Bundled Payment Initiative, and others. All initiatives are trying to shift payments to quality rather than quantity. However, a very large issue when attempting this is shifting people’s thinking process from more money == better care. It does not. In many aspects, more money (paying for volume) actually encourages worse care.
Really good points, Patrick. Money != care. Industry-wide, it seems like there are perverse incentives driving choices on all sides. As much as I believe in the free market, and want to believe that free market solutions will fix these problems, it just seems like most aspects of the healthcare sector don't fit.