Viewpoints: Romney Says Citizens ‘Do Need Help From Government;’ One Retiree Suggests Sacrifices On Medicare; Entitlements Would Be Used To Prop Up Rich
A selection of editorials and opinions on health care from around the nation.
USA Today: Editorial: Romney's 47 Percenters Blur Facts, Message
Government benefits are heavily skewed towards seniors, nearly all of whom paid Social Security and Medicare taxes for decades to earn them. Judging by the polls, both they and low-income workers are likely to give Romney respectable levels of support in November, unless they feel he is insulting them or cannot relate to their situation (9/18).
USA Today: Opposing View: I'll Deliver Recovery, Not Dependency
Government has a role to play here. Right now, our nation's citizens do need help from government. But it is a very different kind of help than what President Obama wants to provide. My experience has taught me that government works best when it creates the space for individuals and families to pursue success and achieve great things (Mitt Romney, 9/18).
The Wall Street Journal: What Romney Might Have Said
Mitt Romney has been taking a beating for his remarks, taped at a May fundraiser, that 47% of Americans would automatically vote for President Obama because they are "dependent" on government. We could pile on, but instead we can report that we've been leaked pages of draft remarks that Mr. Romney might have delivered on the same subject but curiously didn't. Maybe he'll deliver them some time before Election Day (9/18).
The New York Times: Mitt Romney, Class Warrior
Everything about Mr. Romney's characterization of this mythical slice of lazy, shiftless Americans was wrong. A vast majority of Americans pay federal taxes, either income tax or payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare — or both — as well as other federal fees. They also pay state and local taxes and sales taxes. The government's revenue problem does not start with the poor but with the richest people, through the Bush tax cuts and other changes (9/18).
Los Angeles Times: We, The Parasites
My husband and I, recently retired, are among the people that Mitt Romney described with such disdain in the fundraiser video revealed Monday. ... our federal income taxes are a fraction of what we paid as full-time workers. ... conservatives would like to steeply cap, cut or cap and privatize entitlements. Medicare, in one of their schemes, would ultimately become a voucher system for the benefit of for-profit companies. Only one entitlement, the capital gains tax cap, would be vastly expanded. ... Thus Americans who in Romney's view "believe the government has a responsibility to them, who believe they are victims, who believe they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing" would help fund the yachts of billionaires through reductions in their food stamps or child care credits. Others of us might pay for their luxuries through limits on and fees for our Medicare (Judy Dugan, 9/19).
Los Angeles Times: Debunking Romney's Attack On Americans Who Don’t Pay Income Taxes
The key number he cited is that 47% of Americans "pay no income tax." ... In fact, its shock value derives from the legerdemain of focusing solely on the federal income tax. This misleads Romney and his audience into thinking that the group in question is mostly people on a lifelong dole. The truth is that the vast majority are people who are working or who have worked in the past. Their ranks include millions of Americans who are now retired, living on Social Security and Medicare benefits they paid for throughout their working lives. Many others are those who were booted into culverts by the economic crisis and are today struggling to get back on the road (Michael Hilzik, 9/19).
The Washington Post: Mr. Romney's '47 Percent' Fantasy
There is a wisp of a serious argument in Mr. Romney’s comments bemoaning the half of the country that pays no income tax. Conservatives have worried for years that Americans who don't pay taxes have no incentive to restrain spending. Government payments to individuals have risen dramatically, and beneficiaries become an interest group that makes reform of health and pension programs difficult. But here's why it's only a wisp (9/18).
Roll Call: Improve Housing Policy, Improve Health Care
With the expansion of Medicaid under the 2010 health care law, states have an unprecedented opportunity not just to improve people's health, but also to boost the effect of other federal safety-net programs. In an era of tightening budgets, a few common-sense changes to housing policy could help federal programs improve the health of some of society's sickest and most vulnerable. For vulnerable populations such as the elderly, people with disabilities and people with complex health needs, housing and health are intricately linked (Jill Khadduri and Gretchen Locke, 9/19).
Politico: The 80/20 Rule: Commissions Vs. Health Premiums
This summer, 12.8 million Americans received more than $1.1 billion in rebates from their insurers. Small businesses received $321 billion — money they can use to reduce their employees' health insurance costs and expand their businesses. For many Americans, this is the most concrete evidence so far that health care reform is working for them. These rebates were paid out under the act's medical loss ratio — or 80/20 — rule, which requires insurers in the individual and small group market to spend 80 percent of their premiums on actual enrollee health care claims and programs to improve health care quality. ... Yet Congress looks likely to eviscerate this rule to help a special interest group (Timothy Stoltzfus Jost, 9/18).
Modern Healthcare: Slipshod Approach To Security Should Concern IT Leaders
A million and a half dollars here, a million and a half dollars there, and pretty soon, you're talking real money—even in the healthcare industry. The privacy and security enforcers at the OCR, after a long, long period of quiescence, appear to be stepping up their enforcement efforts and availing themselves of the stiffer penalties that Congress provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's revisions to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act's privacy and security rules (Joseph Conn, 9/18).
Bloomberg: Ryan's Proposal Would Shrink Medicare's Doctor Pool
Doctors see Medicare patients, despite the relatively low payments they receive for doing so, partly because Medicare represents such a large share of the health-care market. If a substantial number of beneficiaries moved out of Medicare and into private plans, as (Rep. Paul) Ryan proposes, doctors would have much less incentive to see Medicare patients. And the elderly who want to remain in traditional Medicare would risk being stranded. The evidence suggests that, in time, this problem could well affect a large share of Medicare beneficiaries (Peter Orszag, 9/18).