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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Debunking Health Care Reform Myths - 14

MYTH 14: Government can't run a health care program

CLAIM: Medicare has failed, and so the government can't be trusted to "run health care."

  • HANNITY: "But why would you have so much faith, trust, hope, and confidence? Are you happy when you go to the DMV? Are you happy with the Postal Service? Social Security is bankrupt. Medicare is bankrupt. Why do people have faith that the government can run health care?" [Hannity, 7/20/09, from the Nexis database]

REALITY: Medicare costs have risen more slowly than private insurance. As Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman noted, "since 1970 Medicare costs per beneficiary have risen at an annual rate of 8.8% -- but insurance premiums have risen at an annual rate of 9.9%. The rise in Medicare costs is just part of the overall rise in health care spending. And in fact Medicare spending has lagged private spending: if insurance premiums had risen 'only' as much as Medicare spending, they'd be 1/3 lower than they are."

Medicare is extremely popular. A May 2009 Commonwealth Fund study concluded that "elderly Medicare beneficiaries reported greater overall satisfaction with their health coverage, better access to care, and fewer problems paying medical bills than people covered by employer-sponsored plans."

And as Mark Blumenthal wrote for National Journal, a survey by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that in 2007, "56 percent of enrollees in traditional fee-for-service Medicare give their 'health plan' a rating of 9 or 10 on a 0-10 scale. Similarly, 60 percent of seniors enrolled in Medicare Managed Care rated their plans a 9 or 10. But according to the CAHPS [Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems ] surveys compiled by HHS, only 40 percent of Americans enrolled in private health insurance gave their plans a 9 or 10 rating." Blumenthal added, "More importantly, the higher scores for Medicare are based on perceptions of better access to care. More than two thirds (70 percent) of traditional Medicare enrollees say they 'always' get access to needed care (appointments with specialists or other necessary tests and treatment), compared with 63 percent in Medicare managed care plans and only 51 percent of those with private insurance."

The government currently provides the "best care anywhere." In a 2005 Washington Monthly article headlined "The Best Care Anywhere," Philip Longman wrote of the Veterans Health Association (VHA): "Outside experts agree that the VHA has become an industry leader in its safety and quality measures. Dr. Donald M. Berwick, president of the Institute for Health Care Improvement and one of the nation's top health-care quality experts, praises the VHA's information technology as 'spectacular.' The venerable Institute of Medicine notes that the VHA's 'integrated health information system, including its framework for using performance measures to improve quality, is considered one of the best in the nation.' "

source: MediaMatters.org










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