It’s difficult to concentrate on a downer like our country’s budget and our country’s debt; on what we will be able to fund and what will have to be cut; on what America will look like after all is done with weddings and tsunamis and tornadoes claiming our immediate attention. We know, however, that at some point we will get back to hashing out some kind of a plan. It can be a plan we can tolerate or one we can’t depending on how much attention we pay to what our apparently out-of-touch representatives come up with and how much we insist that our input be considered. I keep coming back to Medicare because Paul Ryan has a plan for it. I think his plan is awful and I think we need to think carefully about how we can save Medicare for ourselves and future generations.
If we want to cut the cost of Medicare perhaps we need to find a separate way to cover chronic or catastrophic conditions. Regular health care, even for seniors, is not the most expensive part of our health care system. Even routine hospital events that are of relatively short duration, although expensive, do not break the bank. It is long term care that is really expensive; treatments for things like diabetes, kidney failure, some heart disorders, cancers that require long-term care, Parkinson’s, ALS, Alzheimer’s, and long-term nursing home stays.
Perhaps we need a separate fund for catastrophic care to which everyone contributes. To keep the red tape down this fund could be run by a foundation of some sort. This might also help with some of the trust problems which will be the legacy of our government’s willingness to wiggle out of promises made to the American people.
Another idea might be to put three new spaces on tax forms which would allow taxpayers to voluntarily contribute up to $20 each to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.
There must be some good ideas out there. Send them to your newspaper. Send them to your Congressperson. Everyone agrees that we need to address the national debt and we need to do it very soon.