The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Politics

April 5, 2013

Entitlements are the problem?

(Continued)

This is the other, perhaps more pressing, Social Security crisis: It's not generous enough to counteract the sorry state of retirement savings nationwide.

In a report for the New American Foundation, Michael Lind, Steven Hill, Robert Hiltonsmith and Joshua Freedman survey this data and conclude that the debate over how to cut Social Security is all wrong: We need to make Social Security much more generous.

They would keep today's income-based Social Security program, but add a "Part B," which would be a flat payout to all retirees. When parts A and B are combined, all retirees would be guaranteed 60 percent of their average working wage in retirement, with low earners seeing closer to 100 percent replacement. Part B would be pricey, adding almost a trillion dollars to Social Security's costs in 2037, and the authors don't have a clear proposal, much less a politically realistic plan, for how to pay for it. But not paying for it doesn't mean those costs disappear: It either means living standards for seniors will tumble, or families will strain as they try to support older relatives.

Medicare, too, can help solve some of our tougher health-care problems. A key fact — perhaps the key fact — about health care is that the prices Americans pay are far, far higher than in any other country.

According to new data from the International Federation of Health Plans, an angiogram costs $218 in Switzerland but $914 in the United States. Bypass surgery is $22,844 in France but $73,420 here. A hip replacement runs you $11,889 in Britain but $40,364 here.

"Other countries negotiate very aggressively with the providers and set rates that are much lower than we do," says Gerard Anderson, director of the Center for Hospital and Finance Management at Johns Hopkins.

But not all American payers are the same. Medicare uses its massive market power to negotiate much lower prices than private insurers. For that reason, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated in 2011 that "average spending in traditional Medicare will be 89 percent of (that is, 11 percent less than) the spending that would occur if that same package of benefits was purchased from a private insurer." Back during the health-care debate, the CBO estimated that a public option able to use Medicare's pricing power could save more than $100 billion over 10 years.

Text Only
Politics
  • With 1 week to go, Sanford subject of attacks

    CHARLESTON, S.C. — Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford can’t seem to escape attacks on the extramarital affair that derailed his political career, which he hopes to revive in a special congressional election that is now a week away.

    May 1, 2013

  • Bombing shifts Mass. Senate race before primaries

    BOSTON — Even before the explosions, polling suggested that Massachusetts voters weren’t excited about the looming special election to replace former U.S. Sen. John Kerry.

    April 28, 2013

  • In a first, black voter turnout rate passes whites

    WASHINGTON — America’s blacks voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time, reflecting a deeply polarized presidential election in which blacks strongly supported Barack Obama while many whites stayed home.

    April 28, 2013

  • Senate Democrats put off vote on Labor nominee

    WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats have delayed a confirmation vote on Labor Secretary-nominee Thomas Perez after Republicans threatened to use a separate hearing to criticize his handling of a whistleblower case.

    April 24, 2013

  • Sen. Baucus' decision to retire sets stage for majorlegislative changes

     Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., one of the most influential congressional figures of his era, announced his intention Tuesday to retire, a move that could produce sweeping changes in the political and legislative landscape over the next two years.

    April 24, 2013

  • Senate friendship born of tragedy beat partisanship

    These days, most dispatches from Washington focus on petty partisanship, posturing, impasses and a political culture that rewards confrontation.

    April 22, 2013

  • Rubio rising

    If Marco Rubio helps pass comprehensive immigration reform, he will have accomplished more as a senator than Barack Obama did.

    April 22, 2013

  • Gun Bill's Failure May Help Immigration Legislation

    WASHINGTON — Here's an odd political reality: The collapse of the gun bill in the Senate last week may well make the passage of immigration reform legislation slightly easier.

    April 21, 2013

  • Senate Planning Vote on Internet Sales Tax

    WASHINGTON — The days of tax-free online shopping could finally be numbered.

    April 21, 2013

  • Advocates of Immigration Reform Fight Back Against Push for Delay

    WASHINGTON — The Senate's leading supporters of overhauling the nation's immigration system sought Sunday to blunt a conservative effort to slow the pace of debate over their bill, saying the Boston Marathon bombings are a reason to move quickly to make changes.

    April 21, 2013

Featured Ads
Politics Video