Bush Moving to Cripple Medicare – Again

The Bush Administration is once more proposing sweeping changes to Medicare that the Boston Globe estimates will cost Massachusetts alone almost $$100MIL$$ in Federal funding for Medicare support programs. Insisting that the cuts are necessary to “curb abuses” in the system, Bush is still trying, for the umpteenth time, to balance his insane budget on the backs of the poor and sick while trying to strangle Medicare in the process. Considering how much the Iraq occupation is actually costing us, I think it’s fair to say that the Administration’s priorities are seriously skewed.

Far-reaching Medicaid changes proposed by the Bush administration could cost Massachusetts more than $100 million a year and make it harder for tens of thousands of low-income and disabled residents to get healthcare, according to state officials, analysts, and advocates.

    The proposed federal regulations could also hurt efforts to enroll uninsured children in the Medicaid program, a critical part of the state’s initiative to ensure that nearly all residents have health insurance.

    The Bush administration has announced the changes one at a time since the start of the year, saying they are essential to curb abuses in the $346 billion healthcare program, which is funded by both the federal and state governments. About 50 million low-income and disabled Americans, including more than 1 million in Massachusetts, are served by Medicaid.

    ***

    Federal funding that supports training new doctors would be cut. In addition, the proposed rules would reduce federal spending on rehabilitation for people with mental and physical disabilities, support services for schoolchildren with special needs, and hospital outpatient care for all Medicaid members. The moves could force Massachusetts to restrict some services – such as day pro grams for people with developmental disabilities – or pick up more of the cost.

    The state’s Medicaid director, Thomas Dehner, said the restrictions on rehabilitative care are particularly problematic. “Without those services, certain individuals will get worse and end up costing us all more money,” Dehner said. “It is very bad policy.”

    (emphasis added)

    Yuh think?

    But Dennis Smith, Bush’s director of the Center for Medicaid & State Operations, isn’t, it turns out, blaming “abuse” for the changes at all. Instead, he’s claiming basically that the states have been ripping off the Feds.

    “Over time, states have found different ways to shift their cost of Medicaid over to the federal government. It’s our responsibility to push back,” he said…

    Oh. So the supposed “abuses” are abuses of the generosity of the Bush Administration? Is that really what he’s asking us to swallow?

    This isn’t about “abuses”, and everybody knows it by now. It’s about the on-going attempt by Bush to kill what he has openly – in the case of SCHIP – called “socialized medicine”. Even the corporatocracy in America is in the process of abandoning their support for that POV, faced as they are with the real-life consequences of a dysfunctional health care system. Corporate support for universal, single-payer health care is growing because they’ve finally begun to realize that their productivity – and therefore profits – will very soon be held hostage by a decreasing pool of employees who can afford health insurance. They will have to sacrifice profits at some point to pay for that insurance – already one of their biggest expenses – or else significantly raise employees wages so that they can pay for it themselves. They don’t want yo do either, so a single-payer system is beginning to look pretty darn sensible to them.

    But Dear Leader remains stuck in a post-WWII mindset: Islamic terrorists in Iraq are playing the part of Nazi Germany, and Medicare is Communist propaganda. Never mind that the realities are significantly different in both cases and his analogies are delusional dogmas that have outlived whatever usefulness they may once have had (which was never much, anyway).

    Democrats are trying to stall two of the rules changes, with guess what result:

    Congress also tried to stall the rules on rehabilitative and school-based care with a moratorium in a bill funding children’s insurance, but Bush has promised to veto the bill. US Senator John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, said he and others are looking to include the moratorium in some other bill that Bush is unlikely to veto.

    Dear Leader appears to get a big kick out of vetoing legislation that helps somebody other than the military-industrial complex, especially if it hurts, you know, kids and old people and sick people and all those other yucky freeloaders on the public dime. It’s becoming painfully obvious even to some of his loyalists that our “compassionate conservative” president isn’t compassionate at all. In fact, he’s really not a very nice guy.

    Go figure.

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