Medicare was established in 1965 to address the problem of elderly people without insurance dying of diseases that basic medal care would have prevented. For the working poor who reached the age of 65 but who still could not afford medical costs, medicare was truly a life saver. Now Republicans want to raise the age of eligibility to 67 to prevent higher taxes on the rich.
The recent assaults on medicare by Republicans was ironically parodied by Sarah Palin accusing the Affordable Healthcare Act of creating death panels. It is true that no program will be able to treat every catastrophic illness for every person. Palin is right that some people will be refused expensive procedures. But the kind of “death panel” Palin describes is already the grim reality for the uninsured.
It is understood that even with universal coverage of basic medical procedures, there will always be better medical treatment for the rich than for the poor. But to eliminate basic medical care for the working poor as a cost cutting measure will provide small dividends compared to the heavy burden it will impose on the lives of real people.
The impact of raising the Medicare eligibility age by two years will fall most heavily upon older African-American and other minorities, as they are still known. The projected damage is summarized clearly in a chart posted on Monday by Sarah Kliff at The Washington Post’s Wonkblog. The number of uninsured among the elderly will be increased for all groups, but the greatest increase will be among minorities, who will also become more likely to postpone medical care because they lack coverage. The net effect of those changes, to project from what we already know about people who lack of insurance and postpone care, will be earlier deaths and much suffering.
Even more broadly, delaying eligibility is a direct assault on the standard of living of working-class Americans, especially those who have earned their way through physical labor. By age 65, people who have spent decades engaged in hard physical work – such as firefighters, nurses, or other first responders, to consider the most obvious examples – are ready to stop working. Medicare is a critical element of their ability to retire, but Washington elites, especially on the right, are obtusely unsympathetic to their conditions. -Mark Karlin
For the record, I consider the Affordable Healthcare Act to be a sell out by the Democrats. Single payer healthcare is the only real solution to spiraling healthcare costs. And that option wasn’t defeated by the Republicans, it was traded away by the Democrats. We will never know what would have happened had Obama gone to the American people asking their help to pass the public option.
No system will be able to treat all diseases, but to deny antibiotics to a retired 66 year old janitor so a 35 year old multimillionaire will have lower taxes will be more than unjust, it will be just the kind of death panel Sarah Palin predicted.