Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fwd: qotd: Business Roundtable attacks Medicare and Social Security

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-------- Original Message --------
Subject: qotd: Business Roundtable attacks Medicare and Social Security
Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2013 11:42:42 -0800
From: Don McCanne <>
To: Quote-of-the-Day <>

Business Roundtable
January 2013
Social Security Reform and Medicare Modernization Proposals

Business Roundtable (BRT) is an association of chief executive officers
of leading U.S. companies with more than $7.3 trillion in annual
revenues and nearly 16 million employees. BRT member companies
comprise nearly a third of the total value of the U.S. stock market.

"Medicare and Social Security were not designed to cope with America's
new demographic realities. CEOs are calling for gradual changes that
will modernize these programs and preserve the safety net for future
generations of retirees."
- Gary W. Loveman, Ph.D., Chairman, CEO & President, Caesars
Entertainment Corporation, and Chair of BRT's Health and Retirement

Essential Elements of a Medicare Modernization Proposal

• Protect Medicare for Those Approaching Retirement: Medicare's age of
eligibility should be moved to age 70. However, this will not affect
those age 55 or older today.

• Expand Competitive Models of Care: By 2015, Medicare should offer
seniors the opportunity to choose among competing and comprehensive
private plans and traditional Medicare. The private plans would offer a
benefit similar to the existing Medicare program with the flexibility to
innovate, sell across state lines, and create greater value strategies.
Plans would be required to accept all applicants and would risk adjust
the premium to take into account age and health status. The traditional
fee-for-service program would compete for enrollment with private plans
on cost, quality and a more innovative benefit structure. We believe
that competition in the provision of health care to America's seniors
will bring substantial benefits, as it has to most all other categories
of personal expenditure. The recent experience of competition in the
Medicare Part D program serves as a persuasive indication of the
potential savings and improvement in care available through the
provision of choice to well-informed seniors.

• Reduce Taxpayer Costs for Upper-Income Beneficiaries: Today, the Part
B premium (physician services) and the Part D premium are means-tested
and other types of means testing should be explored. By 2015, additional
means testing for Medicare services should be considered.

• Protect the Safety Net for Low-Income Americans: Low-income
beneficiaries should retain the existing financial support received
today. Improvements should be made in care-coordination and a focus on
wellness and chronic care management.

(Social Security recommendations available at this link.)


The American Prospect
December 17, 2006
Doctoring Health Care, I
By Barbara Dreyfuss

In early 2006, Glen Barton, the retired CEO of Caterpillar and former
head of the Business Roundtable's health-care task force, said the
solution to the health-care crisis is a single-payer system, citing
Medicare as a model.

Comment: Although the slick brochure from these wizards of industry at
the Business Roundtable might make it look like these gentlemen are
doing us a great favor by showing us how to save Medicare and Social
Security from bankruptcy, their recommendations are, in fact, taking a
supercilious approach to diminishing the effectiveness of America's
highly regarded social insurance programs.

This cavalier attitude is expressed in a comment by Caesars' Gary
Loveman, chairman of Business Roundtable's Health and Retirement
Committee that released this report. "Those of us who are in the BRT are
paid to try to solve very difficult problems effectively. I would tell
you that most of them are a lot harder than this, frankly" (Politico
Pulse, Jan. 17).

What do they have in mind for Medicare? They would increase eligibility
age to 70 - a disaster for future retirees. They would privatize the
traditional Medicare program by throwing it into a market of private
plans - a devious scheme to shift health care costs onto the backs of
those with greater health care needs. They would also means-test
benefits, losing the support of the wealthier individuals who have the
strongest political voice, threatening to convert Medicare into a
welfare program.

And Social Security? They would also increase Social Security retirement
age to 70. And in a stroke of genius, they recommend that Americans
simply save more for their retirement. Why didn't we think of that before?

A word needs to be said about their recommendation to reduce future
Social Security cost of living adjustments by converting to the
chained-CPI. When individuals are forced into a frugal existence they
learn to cut back and do without just so that they will have enough
money for basic food and housing at the end of the month, if that. Under
chained-CPI, the government assumes that this frugality represents the
new, lower consumer price index for this sector, and so they adjust out
the savings that the Social Security beneficiaries have accrued merely
for the purpose of getting them all of the way through to the end of the
month. Pretty cruel.

A decade ago, Glen Barton, Chairman and President of Caterpillar, led
the BRT Health and Retirement Committee, currently headed by Gary
Loveman. What a contrast. Glen Barton's experience motivated him to
become an advocate of "a single-payer system, citing Medicare as a
model." Lovemen? Well, you read it above. What a difference a decade made.

Class warfare? Ugly label, but...

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