LTC Bullet: A Taste of What's to Come
November 22, 2005
Comment: Abe Lincoln said "You
cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today."
Here are a few recent media reports, after the ***news,*** to help open
our eyes before it's too late.
MEDICAID REFORM. For an excellent
article on the need to fix Medicaid by the key Congressman leading the charge to
do so, check out Chairman Joe Barton (R,TX), "Save Medicaid
from Itself," The Washington Times, October 31, 2005 at http://energycommerce.house.gov/108/News/10312005_1703.htm
. Here's his conclusion which is
right on target: "We did the
right thing when we reformed welfare in 1996, and we must now do it again for a
slice of the welfare that never got reformed.
If we succeed, a dose of common sense, state flexibility and personal
responsibility can make poor people healthier.
And nobody will have to choose between caring for the sick and educating
LTC E-ALERTS. We frequently receive
emails from dues-paying Center for Long-Term Care Reform members who appreciate
our daily LTC E-Alerts and miss them when we take time off.
If you enjoy these LTC Bullets, you're going to love the daily alerts.
Why? Because they are more
pointed and pungent than our more widely distributed missives and they often
disclose inside information you can't get anywhere else.
So, whether you like what we say and want more OR you hate what we say,
but believe the adage "Keep your friends close and your enemies
closer," join the Center and follow our daily commentary on long-term care
public policy. To join, go to http://www.centerltc.com/support/index.htm
or contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or email@example.com.
Annual dues are $150 or $12.50 per month.
Do you have a budget for subscriptions?
Use it and help the Center for Long-Term Care Reform continue the fight
for rational LTC policy. ***
BULLET: A TASTE OF WHAT'S TO
Comment: Lately, we've been getting
a lot of warnings about what is to come for America's social insurance and
welfare safety net. Ancient
societies watched for omens and adjusted their behavior to avert anticipated
disasters. We should do the same
when we see news items like the ones that follow.
If our government-financed programs designed to protect people from the
need to take personal responsibility are failing already, imagine the crises
we'll face as demographic pressures squeeze the fiscal vise shut entirely.
1: America's three big health and
retirement security programs are going down for the count.
. . . Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid constitute more than 40 percent of
federal spending. Given the baby
boom, longer life expectancies and rising health care costs, these programs are
projected (by the Congressional Budget Office and others) to grow by about
two-thirds or more during the next 25 years.
To cover these costs, we'd have to do one of the following:
Raise all federal taxes by 30 to 50 percent . . .; eliminate defense
spending and 30 percent of other federal spending, excluding interest payments;
run budget deficits three times present levels."
Robert J. Samuelson, "AARP's America Is a Mirage," Washington
Post, November 16, 2005, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/15/AR2005111501308_pf.html.
2: Responsible public officials
like David Walker of the Government Accountability Office are screaming the
warnings at the top of their lungs, but irresponsible functionaries treat these
demographic Paul Reveres like Chicken Little.
"We face a demographic
tsunami' that 'will never recede,' David Walker tells a group of reporters.
He runs through a long list of fiscal challenges, led by the imminent
retirement of the baby boomers, whose promised Medicare and Social Security
benefits will swamp the federal budget in coming decades. . . .
To hear Walker, the nation's top auditor, tell it, the United States can
be likened to Rome before the fall of the empire.
Its financial condition is 'worse than advertised,' he says.
It has a 'broken business model.' It
faces deficits in its budget, its balance of payments, its savings - and its
Richard Wolf, "A 'Fiscal Hurricane' on the Horizon," USA
Today, November 15, 2005, http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-11-14-fiscal-hurricane-cover_x.htm.
3: Medicare already has an unfunded
liability of $60 trillion that future generations will carry as a back-breaking
economic load. Yet the program
can't even pay doctors enough now, much less in the future. Medicaid, if anything, is even worse off.
No one has even reported that program's unfunded liability yet.
nation's doctors are objecting vigorously to upcoming cuts of 4.4 percent for
services provided to Medicare patients in 2006. AMA chairman Dr. Duane M. Cady said, 'Physicians cannot
absorb the pending draconian cuts. A
recent A.M.A. survey indicates that if the cuts begin on Jan. 1, more than
one-third of physicians would decrease the number of new Medicare patients they
Robert Pear, "Doctors Objecting to Planned Cut in Medicare
Fees," The New York Times, November 20, 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/20/national/20docs.html.
pediatric doctors and dentists are suing the state on behalf of low-income kids,
saying it has failed in its duty to provide them with adequate healthcare."
Mary Ellen Klas, "Doctors Sue State Over Care for Poor Kids," Miami
Herald, November 22, 2005, http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/state/13229440.htm.
4: According to most Governors,
Medicaid is bankrupting their state budgets.
Trends that can't continue, won't. Even
New York will have to cut back now that its waiver to allow wide open Medicaid
outreach is ending.
. . . has changed people's perceptions of Medicaid to be health insurance, not
welfare,' said Anne Marie Costello, director of programs at the Children's
Defense Fund-New York. 'Without it,
enrollment will shut down. The
social service offices will not be able to absorb the crush of people they'll
get, and a lot of people will just give up if they have to go to those offices
Richard Pérez-Peña, "For Medicaid Clients, New Hurdle Looms,"
The New York Times, November 21, 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/21/nyregion/21medicaid.html?pagewanted=print.
5: In spite of all these ominous
signs and warnings, the bulging baby boomer generation remains mostly oblivious
to the risk even as they approach the cusp of old age.
boomers are in real trouble financially, and most don't even realize it.
With the lowest savings rate in history, lax investment habits and no
guaranteed pensions, 80% of boomers lack sufficient assets to maintain their
current standards of living with financial security late in life, said Jack
Waymire, founder of Paladin Registry, LLC (
PR Newswire, "Boomers Need Excellent Advice to Achieve Financially
Secure Retirements, Says Paladin Registry," November 17, 2005, http://www.insurancenewsnet.com/article.asp?a=1&lnid=328461310.
6: Instead of taking personal
responsibility through savings, investment and insurance, where do boomers and
the elderly turn? You guessed it.
They're putting their false hopes in government programs that are already
breaking down long before the biggest demographic pressures build.
poll released today says seven in ten baby boomers and senior citizens believe
the government should do more to help people meet the cost of long-term care.
Along with the poll, a panel of experts from the National Academy of
Social Insurance (NASI) issued a call for fundamental reforms in financing
long-term care, including a substantial commitment of federal resources."
"Most Boomers, Senior Citizens Think Government Should Help with LTC:
Poll Shows Baby Boomers, Seniors Concerned About Paying for Care,
November 14, 2005, http://www.seniorjournal.com/NEWS/Politics/5-11-14-MostSayGovMustHelpLTC.htm?BMIDS=15221981-603b661c-91401.
Comment: To aging Americans and the
financial advisers who counsel them, heads up, please take Lincoln's advice.
Don't try to escape the inevitable consequences of aging demographics by
evading them. Maybe you can't save
America's crippled social insurance and welfare infrastructure, but you have it
within your power to protect yourselves and your families by saving, investing
and insuring wisely. To the extent
we all take care of ourselves and our own, we contribute in the most crucial way
toward protecting whatever vestiges of a social safety net remain salvageable.
Use reports like the ones itemized above to spread the word and the
warning to friends, family, clients, and if you write for publication, readers.