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Blog of Mass Destruction

44 Years Later...

By The Reverend Published: September 22, 2009

In 1965, Congress passed and President Lyndon Johnson signed into law legislation creating Medicare, a socialized version of health care for all U.S. seniors.

In 1965, I believe, the Democratic Party was more liberal than today's party and the Republican Party was much more moderate.

In that 1965 vote in the House 237 Democrats voted in favor, 49 opposed. 70 Republican House members voted for Medicare, 68 voted against. In the 1965 Senate 57 Democratic senators voted for Medicare, 7 opposed while 13 Republican senators voted for Medicare and 17 were opposed.

About half of all Republican Congressional members in 1965 voted against Medicare. Republicans in 1965 were divided down the middle on whether America's seniors should have a guaranteed, government run, health care system preventing many seniors from going bankrupt and living in squalor.

In 1961, the Patron Saint of today's GOP, Ronald Reagan, shared his views on the Democrat's suggestion of creating Medicare...

"Behind it [Medicare] will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country until one day, as [Socialist Party leader] Norman Thomas said, we will awake to find that we have socialism."

In this 1995 quote, ex-presidential candidate, Bob Dole waxed proudly over his no vote on Medicare back in 1965....

"I was there, fighting the fight, voting against Medicare . . . because we knew it wouldn't work in 1965," said Dole, the front- runner for the GOP presidential nomination.

Medicare is still with us in 2009 and other than Dick Armey (Asshole-Tx), I don't know anyone receiving Medicare who wants to opt out of it. Yes, Medicare has a long range revenue projection problem, but that would be alleviated somewhat by an overall lowering of national health care costs.

Many conservative apologists point to The Decider's leadership on Medicare Plan D, passed in 2003 with a Republican president and a narrow Republican Congress, as evidence that modern conservatives, modern Republicans, are actually in favor of Medicare. However, we must remember that The Decider needed to get re-elected in 2004 to continue building Karl Rove's, you know, permanent Republican majority. Additionally, as many seniors now know, Medicare Plan D, while helping many poorer seniors, was designed to bring a windfall to insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry....and it did.

Then there's that "donut hole" trickery, calculated ever-so-carefully ahead of time by health insurance beancounters to guarantee profits while sticking it to poorer seniors. I have two relatives, that I know of, who are in the "donut hole" starting this month and must rely on free samples until January or empty their meager savings to pay the inflated prices....or go without medication.

I regard Medicare Plan D as a split-the-baby-down-the-middle kind of thing by Republicans whose real intent was to reward their insurance and pharmaceutical donors with an avalanche of new demand while simultaneously portraying their new "compassionate conservatism" as people friendly. The Republicans who originated Plan D rejected the idea of driving pharmaceutical pricing lower through governmental bulk purchasing power or re-importation from Canada provisions.

The Republican Medicare Plan D legislation, then, was primarily a cynical political manuever.....which also helped some poorer seniors. Drug prices, in the meantime, have only continued to go up.

.

When it comes to the present day debate over Obama's broader national health care reform, Republicans, though shy about broadcasting it, did suggest back in April how to reform Medicare....

The plan, drafted by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, top Republican on the House Budget Committee, called for eventually replacing the traditional Medicare program with subsidies to help retirees enroll in private health care plans. Current beneficiaries would keep their coverage and those 55 and older also would go into the current system.

Critics of the plan said the Medicare subsidies would inevitably not keep pace with inflation and that people in poor health might end up uninsured

Once again, even though Ryan's proposal was about dismantling and then reconstructing Medicare, conservative plans are designed to reward private insurers, the same private insurers who have been raising prices at 3 times the rate of inflation for quite awhile. Republicans, as Ryan's Medicare plan indicates, would guarantee private insurers a new demand bonanza, complete with tax dollar subsidies, while doing absolutely nothing to control costs.

Republicans, then, have been somewhat consistent over the last half-century or so when it comes to national health care issues. If private, free market, mega-corporations will benefit handsomely from reform, Republicans are in favor of it.....but only if nothing is done to hold costs in check.

And by the looks of Democratic Finance Committee Chairman, Max Baucus' proposal, at least some Democrats now embrace Republican ideology. The Baucus bill as unveiled looks very similar to Republican Paul Ryan's offering to reform Medicare.

There may be as many as a dozen Democratic senators who have decided, just as Republicans have, that protecting huge corporate profits is more important than lowering costs. Of course, Max Baucus, like many Republicans, is only trying to reward the same powerful interests who continually finance his re-election campaigns.

Now the point of all of this......in 1965 only about half of Republicans voted against a socialized health care plan for seniors known as Medicare. Today, NO Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee will even vote for the Baucus bill.....which in reality, is a Republican bill rewarding the status quo corporate powers while doing nothing to check skyrocketing prices.

That says something about today's Republican Party. Anyone want to take a stab at what that "something" is?

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