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Republican Conservatives Want Senior Citizens to Pay Most for Katrina (Barf!)
Senior Journal ^ | 9/23/05 | Unknown

Posted on 09/23/2005 7:29:42 AM PDT by qam1

Republican Study Committee targets senior programs for budget cuts

Sept. 22, 2005 – In a stunning announcement yesterday, the Republican Study Committee recommended shifting a big portion of the cost of Hurricane Katrina to the backs of America’s senior citizens. Recommended program cuts impacting seniors include delaying the Medicare Prescription Drug Program, increase Medicare Part B Premium from 25% to 30%, impose a home health co-payment of 10%, reduce Medicaid administrative spending, increase allowable co-pays in Medicaid, block grant Medicaid acute services, base new Federal Retiree Health on length of service, restructure Medicare's cost-sharing requirement and update the formula used for Federal Pension.

The Republican Study Committee, a group of about 100 conservatives, launched "Operation Offset" Wednesday with a proposal that they say will strip the national budget of more than $929 billion, over ten years, of “unnecessary spending.” About $491 billion will be from programs impacting senior citizens.

Most of the attention has been on their proposal for cutting $25 billion of transportation Congressional home district perks, including two bridges in Alaska that will cost $450 million.

The Republican Study Committee its agenda is advancing a conservative social and economic agenda in the House of Representatives. Their Website says it is an independent research arm for Republicans.

Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), chairman, noted at the rally that every offset recommendation was not endorsed by every member present.

Beside senior programs, other cost-cutting targets are many of the programs conservatives have long disliked, such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the foreign-operations budget and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The following is what their report said on senior programs they want to cut:

Delay the Medicare Prescription Drug Program for One Year

Under current law, the prescription drug benefit becomes effective on January 1, 2006, and OMB has estimated that it will cost as much as $1.2 trillion over the next ten years. Anyone with Medicare Part A or Part B may enroll in the prescription drug plan, and will be eligible for prescription drugs at discounted prices. In light of current budget constraints, it is prudent domestic fiscal policy to delay implementation of the prescription drug benefit for one year while continuing the current drug discount card program. Savings: $30.8 billion over ten years.

Reduce Medicaid Administrative Spending

The federal government currently reimburses states for about 50 percent of the cost of managing their Medicaid programs. Under this option, the federal government would cap the per-enrollee amount that it pays each state for Medicaid administration. This would give states a stronger incentive to improve the efficiency with which they manage their Medicaid programs. Savings: $12.9 billion over ten years ($4.2 billion over five years).

Increase Allowable Co-payments for Medicaid

Although states are allowed a great deal of discretion in designing their Medicaid programs, federal rules have traditionally limited cost-sharing requirements for beneficiaries. This option would raise the federal limits on allowable co-payments in Medicaid--from $3 for adults and zero for children to $5 and $3, respectively. The higher co-payments would apply to outpatient hospital visits, prescription drugs, non-emergency visits to emergency rooms, and visits to physicians and dentists. Increased co-payments would encourage a more cost-conscious use of services by beneficiaries, reducing the number of unnecessary medical services provided. Savings: $7.7 billion over ten years ($2.0 billion over five years).

Block Grant Medicaid and Index for Population and Inflation

The Medicaid program funds coverage for two broadly different types of health care: acute care (including services such as inpatient hospital stays and visits to physicians’ offices, and products such as prescription drugs) and long-term care (services such as nursing home care and home and community-based assistance). The program is financed jointly by the states and the federal government, with the federal government’s share determined as a percentage of overall Medicaid spending. That percentage, referred to as the federal matching rate, can range from a floor of 50 percent to a ceiling of 83 percent, depending on a state’s per capita income. This option would convert the federal share of Medicaid payments for acute care services into a block grant, as 1996 legislation did with funding for welfare programs, that would be increased annually for inflation and state population growth. (Long-term care would continue to be financed using the matching rate.) Funding acute care with a block grant rather than with federal matching payments would strengthen states' incentive to spend money cost-effectively by eliminating the subsidy for each additional dollar spent on health care. Savings: $225 billion over ten years ($44 billion over five years).

Base New Federal Retiree Health Benefits on Length of Service

Federal retirees are generally allowed to continue receiving benefits from the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program if they have participated in the program during their last five years of service and are eligible to receive an immediate annuity. More than 80 percent of new retirees elect to continue health benefits. This option would reduce health benefits for new retirees who had relatively short federal careers, although it would preserve their right to participate in the FEHB program. This could make the government’s mix of compensation fairer and more efficient by improving the link between length of service and deferred compensation, and would also help bring federal benefits closer to those of private companies. Savings: $6.3 billion over ten years ($1.6 billion over five years).

Increase Medicare Part B Premium from 25% to 30%

Medicare provides health insurance coverage for physicians’ services and hospital outpatient services through its Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI) program, or Medicare Part B. Monthly premiums paid by enrollees partially fund SMI benefits; general federal revenues fund the remainder. Initially, the SMI premium was supposed to cover 50 percent of program costs. But that share declined between 1975 and 1983, eventually reaching less than 25 percent. This reform would set the SMI premium equal to 30 percent of the cost of Part B benefits, beginning in 2006. This would reduce Medicare’s costs amid the broader budgetary pressures posed in part by the aging of the baby-boom generation. Savings: $84.8 billion over ten years ($33.5 billion over five years).

Restructure Medicare’s Cost-Sharing Requirements

In the fee-for-service Medicare program—consisting of Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Supplementary Medical Insurance)—beneficiaries’ cost sharing varies significantly depending on the type of service provided. At the same time, certain Medicare services, such as home health visits and laboratory tests, require no cost sharing. This option would replace the current complicated mix of cost-sharing provisions with a single combined deductible covering all services in Parts A and B of Medicare, a uniform coinsurance rate of 20 percent for amounts above that deductible (including inpatient expenses), and an annual cap on each beneficiary’s total cost-sharing liabilities. This would provide greater protection against catastrophic costs while reducing Medicare’s coverage of more predictable expenses. Savings: $87.5 billion over ten years ($34.2 billion over five years).

Impose a Home Health Co-payment of 10%

Medicare’s spending for home health care dropped during the late 1990s following passage of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which introduced a prospective payment system (PPS) for home health services. But the Congressional Budget Office projects that the use of home health services, and the resulting costs to the Medicare program, will grow rapidly over the next 10 years. One reason for the projected rapid growth is that Medicare beneficiaries are not currently required to pay any of the cost of home health services covered by the program. This reform would charge beneficiaries a co-payment amounting to 10 percent of the total cost of each home health “episode”—a 60-day period of services— covered by Medicare, starting on January 1, 2006. This would directly offset a portion of Medicare’s home health outlays and encourage beneficiaries to be cost-conscious in their use of home health services. Savings: $31.5 billion over ten years ($11.8 billion over five years).

Update Formula Used for Federal Pensions from Three Years to Five Years

The government’s major retirement plans for civilian employees, the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), provide initial benefits that are based on average salary during an employee’s three consecutive highest-earning years. Switching to a five-year average for new retirees would align federal practices with those in the private sector, which commonly uses five-year averages to calculate a worker’s base pension. Savings: $5.2 billion over ten years ($1.3 billion over five years).

TOPICS: Government
KEYWORDS: 109th; federalspending; genx; gimmiegeneration; gop; greedygeezers; iamoldgiveme; katrina; mikepence; relief; seniors
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Summary of Savings in Title I
(Savings from Baseline, in Millions of Dollars)

Savings Recommended


5 Years

10 Years

Delay the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill for One year




Repeal the Highway Earmarks in TEA-LU




Reduce Medicaid Administrative Spending




Increase Allowable Co-pays in Medicaid




Block Grant Medicaid Acute Services




Reduce Farm Payment Acreage by 1%




Eliminate Subsidized Loans to Graduate Students




Base New Federal Retiree Health on Length of Service




Increase Medicare Part B Premium from 25% to 30%




Restructure Medicare's Cost-Sharing Requirement




Impose a Home Health Co-payment of 10%




Update the Formula Used for Federal Pension




SUBTOTAL: Tough Options




Program Cuts Impacting Seniors




1 posted on 09/23/2005 7:29:43 AM PDT by qam1
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To: qam1

This Republican Study Committee is B.S. Why even give it any attention??

2 posted on 09/23/2005 7:33:09 AM PDT by Lunatic Fringe (North Texas Solutions
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To: qam1
Will Never Happen. Seniors Vote. Those are the last two words politicians understand.

(Denny Crane: "Sometimes you can only look for answers from God and failing that... and Fox News".)
3 posted on 09/23/2005 7:33:38 AM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: qam1

This is a tough situation to sell to the American people. People have paid into the system and as such are expecting to get something back. It's a bit late to tell someone who worked and paid taxes that they are out of luck. Old people do not have the means to suppliment their incomes but perhaps a means test could be applied. I know that I am angry about the fact that I am not allowed to opt out of SS participation but if you tell me that I can't leave then you had better pony up when I stop working. (We all know that this is a Ponzi scheme but that's another story)

4 posted on 09/23/2005 7:36:13 AM PDT by misterrob
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To: qam1; ItsOurTimeNow; PresbyRev; tortoise; Fraulein; StoneColdGOP; Clemenza; malakhi; m18436572; ...
Xer Ping

Ping list for the discussion of the politics and social (and sometimes nostalgic) aspects that directly effects Generation Reagan / Generation-X (Those born from 1965-1981) including all the spending previous generations (i.e. The Baby Boomers) are doing that Gen-X and Y will end up paying for.

Freep mail me to be added or dropped. See my home page for details and previous articles.  

5 posted on 09/23/2005 7:45:08 AM PDT by qam1 (There's been a huge party. All plates and the bottles are empty, all that's left is the bill to pay)
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To: qam1

The problem with too many of our "seniors" entitlements are that they are not based on financial need - annual income.

Why in the hell should a slice of a retail clerk's pay go to help Ted Kennedy get his Viagra on the Medicare drug plan. It not only does not make financial sense, it does not make moral sense.

Medicare should be folded entirely into medicaid, which has a means test, and that means test should be strengthened. It is not a question of if, but when, the cost of Medicare causes a generational-based civil war.

Workers in 2030 are not going to shell out for the expected costs of Medicare for a generation of fat and happy retirees whose pensions and social security are more than what average workers get paid.

Our "seniors" programs are the biggest wealth transfer boondoggle ever, from those who work the hardest to those who need it the least.

6 posted on 09/23/2005 7:48:23 AM PDT by Wuli
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To: qam1
Seniors should pay for their own meds or demand that their own families pay. (People might then be nicer to each other.) Why bully us to subsidize their livestyles when they won't reallocate their own budgets to afford their own wants, needs and desires?

If they cannot, or most don't want to pay themselves, seniors can and should demand of their own families instead of relying of the police powers of the State to extort this welfare from the rest of us.

Selfish old people rely on U.S. hired bullies so these seniors won't have to give up any of their "qualities of life". Is Seniors' "Too Proud to ask their own families" attitude worth our government compelling strangers rather than compelling their own families to subsidize life styles?

These Medicare and Medimed taxpayer subsidies should be taxed from their own families, under penalty of law. Tax these Seniors' siblings, children, cousins, grandchildren, greaatgrandchildren, not strangers. What else is family for? I am disgusted by such selfish, too prideful social parasites, money junkies demandinf to live off strangers rather than their own families income and wealth.

Seniors should have saved and invested for their own retirement. God's Waiting Rooms are full of selfish, self-centered crybaby fools, too proud for their own good and ours.

7 posted on 09/23/2005 7:56:39 AM PDT by SevenDaysInMay (Federal judges and justices serve for periods of good behavior, not life. Article III sec. 1)
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To: qam1
In the end, there is no grounds for the government to use tax dollars to rebuild private homes. This would be a misuse of funds that would not stand up constitutionally. Yes, it feels good to help those people... but that type of spending should be avoided at all costs, lest we end up spending similar amounts of money on every disaster coming down the pipe.

In years gone by, it was local leaders and local businesses that helped bring the money in for the locals. Why not do this now? Yes, the fed can spend money on the roads, bridges, and general infrastructure... but that should be it. Everything else should be handled by the people. We are not (yet) in a socialist country where everything is handled by the fed.

8 posted on 09/23/2005 7:56:41 AM PDT by sten
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To: qam1

Woo Hoo! Now you're talkin'!

Was I supposed to have some other reaction?!?

9 posted on 09/23/2005 7:58:08 AM PDT by gridlock (IF YOU'RE NOT CATCHING FLAK, YOU'RE NOT OVER THE TARGET...)
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To: qam1
Well those old people should have repaired the levies years ago before most of us were born. It is not our fault. /sarcasm

Sorry I was trying to reason like a liberal. I just can't do it.

10 posted on 09/23/2005 7:58:36 AM PDT by w1andsodidwe (Jimmy Carter allowed radical Islam to get a foothold in Iran.)
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To: qam1

I used to feel bad for the sr. citizen having to pay hundreds of dollars a month for meds. Then when my mom had hip replacement last year I found out just how MANY freebies they get thru medicare. I don't sympathize anymore.

Blunt got rid of a bunch of medicaid benies for the poor and made a bunch of people hopping mad in MO. I think its funny! Bout DAmn Time!!!

11 posted on 09/23/2005 8:18:10 AM PDT by Mrs. Shawnlaw (Rock beats scissors. Don't run with rocks. NRA)
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To: qam1

Any $ to have the Federal govt pay for any social welfare (Katrina) should come from other social welfare programs--Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and 1000s of other social welfare programs.

What is the problem with you people thinking this is a bad idea?

On a side note, there are so many wealthy senior citizens it is incredible. I know. I am a wealth manager and investment advisor. The image of an elderly person all cripled and destitute is a MSM image. The wealth in America is centered in our senior citizens. These gazillionaires receive Social Security checks and Medicare. Take the money from where the money is, and the money is NOT in NASA is NOT in the Defence Department but the money (over $1 TRILLION annually) is in social welfare programs.

Rearrange the chairs on the deck of social welfare programs. No new taxes and no money taken from any program other than social welfare programs.

You so-called conservatives complaining about this approach need to read up on the Federalist Papers and our Constitution and start thinking like a conservative.

12 posted on 09/23/2005 8:21:45 AM PDT by Dont_Tread_On_Me_888 (Bush's #1 priority Africa. #2 priority appease Fox and Mexico . . . USA priority #64.)
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To: misterrob

Seniors paid for the Prescription drug plan? How? Did they go back and dun their wages back from when they were working?

13 posted on 09/23/2005 8:21:58 AM PDT by sharkhawk (Play me a dirge matey)
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To: Lunatic Fringe
The Chamber of Commerce types who pay for it use it to constantly push certain agenda items which can be spelled out as try to make all employment at will and shift all entitlement programs to self pay programs. The idea is if the same solutions are touted endlessly some parts of them may get into legislation some day.

The value of the RSC to the rats is it consistently gives them grist for hysteria mongering campaigns among reliable rat constituencies to send the $'s to the rats to 'save _____ (you fill in the blank).
14 posted on 09/23/2005 8:36:56 AM PDT by robowombat
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To: qam1

Seniors also happen to be by far the wealthiest group of people in the country. I though liberals liked socking it to the rich?

15 posted on 09/23/2005 8:42:26 AM PDT by Rodney King (No, we can't all just get along.)
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To: Dont_Tread_On_Me_888

"Take the money from where the money is"

- yet you tell US to start thinking like conservatives? Your complaints reek of socialism. Is it really relevant how much money people have when it comes to giving them the benefits they have paid into for so many years ?

16 posted on 09/23/2005 8:44:04 AM PDT by ooioo
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To: SevenDaysInMay

"I'm old. Gimme. Gimme. Gimme."

17 posted on 09/23/2005 8:45:46 AM PDT by dfwgator (Flower Mound, TX)
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To: misterrob

Delaying the prescription drug thing seems ok to me...seniors never had it, few people like it. won't be missed if its delayed .

18 posted on 09/23/2005 9:04:00 AM PDT by From many - one.
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To: Lunatic Fringe

Let the AARP pay for them.

19 posted on 09/23/2005 9:11:05 AM PDT by EQAndyBuzz (Liberal Talking Point - Bush = Hitler ... Republican Talking Point - Let the Liberals Talk)
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To: ooioo

I said "take the money from where the money is"--that is the $1 TRIILLION in social welfare in the FY 2006 Budget.

Any conservative who would take any money from NASA or the military or ANY program other than a another social welfare program is a Marxist--same goes if they even hint of a tax increase. $1 TRILLION every year is a lot of money to reshuffle.

It just so happens that Social Security and Medicare is part of the Welfare USA. Since these two program are part of social welfare, then YES, they should be sources of money to reshuffle, along with the freebie handouts and the 1000 or so other welfare programs.

20 posted on 09/23/2005 9:25:07 AM PDT by Dont_Tread_On_Me_888 (Bush's #1 priority Africa. #2 priority appease Fox and Mexico . . . USA priority #64.)
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