Iowans And The Potential Dismantling Of Social Security And Medicare

hat tip to

hat tip to

Don’t it always seem to go
that you don’t know what you’ve got
Til it’s gone.
They take paradise and put up a parking lot.

Joni Mitchell Big Yellow Taxi

Hard to believe that anyone over 60 would have voted for Donald Trump knowing that he would privatize Social Security and Medicare. Sure Trump said he wouldn’t touch them, but he lied about everything. And I do mean everything!

Paul Ryan has made no bones about his desire to hand our Social Security money over to the casino named Wall Street. We can expect the media blitz to come after the holidays when the new congress is sworn in. Imagine how an elderly Iowan would have been feeling in June or July of 2008 as Wall Street plunged and the Bush administration responded by doing nothing.

At that time Social Security funds were invested in US Treasury bonds and was and still is in the black. Had it been invested in stacks, bonds and commodities we would have been watching a safe accumulation of savings melt into nothing along with all the other losses in retirement savings that were lost that year. Most of that has never been recovered.

As if that weren’t bad enough, Ryan is also planning to put medicare into the hands of insurance companies. The plan is to give an elderly Iowan a yearly allowance to buy insurance with. Since health insurance gets very pricey as you age and when you slowly pick up the diseases of age such as bone problems, heart problems, diabetes and cancer the cost will also go up. Knowing Republicans love for business they will probably allow pre-existing conditions not to be covered. In other words, Medicare will be like health insurance before Obamacare in all its evil manifestations.

An article on Ryan’s potential Medicare changes notes:

If Ryan does get a chance to create his “premium support” system, the likely effects will be twofold: more profit for the insurers and healthcare providers – and more costs shifted to seniors and away from the federal government. Because Ryan is studiously vague about key details, it’s hard to gauge how actual legislation would affect overall costs and seniors’ share. But it’s likely that by removing controls on how much Medicare Advantage plans pay doctors and hospitals, Ryan’s plan will raise overall costs – then shift them to seniors.

Medicare cost control is presently based on the fact that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sets payment rates, working with a panel of doctors to determine how much labor is involved in each medical procedure, but ultimately determining the rates at which those estimated hours should be reimbursed. Those rates are much lower than those paid by private insurers in employer-sponsored plans.

Iowa has one of the older population bases in the country. Thus changes in Social Security and Medicare will have major effects on Iowa’s economy. Very close to 20% of Iowa’s population gets some form of Social Security payment and slightly less than that receives Medicare.

Most elderly live on a fixed income. If their monthly income were variable trying to plan purchases or even basic living expanses would be impossible. A stable Social Security is the very basis of that fixed income. Were this basic income to vary from month to month planning would be impossible. Were Medicare not there to cover nearly all of an elderly person’s health care for a reasonable price planning would also be impossible.

What media will not tell you is that privatizing either of these programs will result in much higher administrative costs. Higher administrative costs means less money for to pay for benefits. Whereas the money in Social Security is invested in Treasury bonds that get a fairly stable interest rate with low administrative costs, returns on Wall Street would be variable but administrative costs – mostly in the form of fees and bonuses to administrators – would still be high even when returns are in the high negatives.

Medicare would have a similar scenario. Money that should be going to health care will instead be going to administrative costs. We are currently seeing what that can mean in Iowa with the change to privatized Medicaid. The Iowa senate Democrats uncovered much disorganization and ineptitude right off the bat. Instead of confronting this, Gov. Branstad just threw the administrative companies another huge chunk of our money.

What will Iowa’s elderly be able to do? It surely doesn’t look like turning to their congressional representatives will be of much use. The Republican Party stood in solidarity behind their ticket in Iowa, despite its huge flaws. Expect Iowa’s Republicans to follow lockstep with whatever their leadership (Ryan and Trump) tell them to do.

So that will probably leave elderly Iowan’s such wonderful choices as trying to get back into the workforce. Remember that the money they earn won’t be circulating through the economy as a young person’s earnings would.The elderly’s extra earnings would more likely be going to an insurance company. Jobs that the elderly took would be jobs denied to younger workers. By swelling the pool of workers the elderly going back into the workforce would likely also depress wages. i think this is a Republican win-win.

Another option would be to sell their homes and move in with their children. Makes you wonder – especially in Iowa with a high elderly population – if anyone thought voting for Republicans could lead to living with an elderly Mom and Dad. Well, surprise, surprise. At least the Wall Street banksters and the insurance companies will be rolling in the dough.

But who knows? By the time all this settles in maybe the climate change hastened by Republican policies will make it all moot.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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