Town hall

English: President Barack Obama's signature on...

English: President Barack Obama’s signature on the health insurance reform bill at the White House, March 23, 2010. The President signed the bill with 22 different pens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently I attended a town hall here in Saint George to meet my newly elected US Representative Chris Stewart. Chris is a retired USAF pilot and a best-selling author and a member of the GOP. He represents the 2nd district in Utah which is geographically the largest of our four districts, stretching 320 miles from Saint George to Chris’s home in Farmington, north of Salt Lake City. Chris lives farther away from Saint George than do our two Senators, Orrin Hatch in Salt Lake City and Mike Lee in Alpine, a Salt Lake City suburb. I believe that Congressional districts should be compact and competitive so that my vote can make a difference. Only the 4th district is both compact and somewhat competitive, and it is now represented by Jim Matheson who was my representative in Congress before the 2010 census and subsequent redistricting.

I attended the town hall to see how many attended and the strength of the defund Obamacare movement. There were between 600 and 700 attendees, mostly elderly because of the 5:30 pm timing and all were white. They gave raucous support to defunding Obamacare. Chris stated his strategy was to defund or delay. Chris spoke for a short time before opening the floor to questions. He asked for short, focused questions, but most were long and rambling. Chris said that the sequester was a terrible law, but that he voted for it. As an excuse, he stated that the sequester was President Obama’s idea. That is false. In addition, if it were Obama’s idea, the GOP would not have voted for it, since they oppose the President at all costs.

I really do not understand the logic of opposing Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) by the vast majority of the attendees at the town hall. I assume the majority are on Medicare and will scarcely be affected by Obamacare at all. Perhaps more people are on Medicare Advantage than I thought. When I turned 65 and was eligible for Medicare, I investigated the choices and selected Medicare over Medicare Advantage because I was convinced that Medicare Advantage was a GOP plot to wean seniors from Medicare and then terminate Medicare and voucherize Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage costs the government more than Medicare and will be restructured under Obamacare to help fund extending insurance to 30 million of the uninsured.

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2 thoughts on “Town hall

  1. You say

    “I really do not understand the logic of opposing Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) by (people that) are on Medicare and will scarcely be affected by Obamacare at all.”

    As a person on Medicare, I oppose the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010 as amended because it will take close to a trillion dollars out of the Medicare trust funds over the next 10 years (and trillions thereafter). That’s hardly “scarcely be affected.” You can argue that people not of Medicare age need health insurance too; OK, make that argument. But don’t pay for it by taking away the money I was forced for 50 years to specifically put aside to pay for my health care once retired. Is that really that difficult for you to understand?

    You can also argue that PPACA really only cut Medicare Advantage, which is what I guess your next point relates to. But that’s not true. “Only” a few hundred billion of the money taken from the Medicare trust funds would have gone to those of us seniors on a public Part C Medicare Advantage health plan. The vast majority of the money being taken from the Medicare trust funds — to pay for health insurance for those not on Medicare — comes from the payroll/income-tax and premium money paid by everyone on Medicare, not just those on Medicare Advantage, and was supposed to be used to pay hospitals and nursing homes primarily.

    You say:

    “Perhaps more people are on Medicare Advantage than I thought.”

    I assume you think that only people on Medicare Advantage oppose PPACA. You may be right but I doubt it. To help you decide if your theory has any merit — the number nationwide are as follows:
    — Just under 30% of the people on Original Medicare Parts A and B have also chosen a public Part C Medicare Advantage health plan as their supplement.
    — Another 40% of people on Original Medicare Parts A and B also receive private insurance from a former employer
    — About 20% of people on Original Medicare Parts A and B also use private Medigap insurance
    — Almost 20% of people on Original Medicare Parts A and B also use Medicaid.

    These numbers add up to more than 100% because some people are in more than one of the above buckets.

    You say:

    “When I turned 65 and was eligible for Medicare, I investigated the choices and selected Medicare over Medicare Advantage because I was convinced that Medicare Advantage was a GOP plot…”

    Perhaps you are not aware of what you actually did when you turned 65 (look at page 15 of last year’s Medicare and You booklet if you want to understand what you actually did). You did not choose Medicare over Medicare Advantage. Everyone on a public Part C Medicare Advantage health plan also has Medicare. It is not possible for you to have chosen one over the other. Medicare Parts A and B are a prerequisite for Part C.

    Perhaps you chose a private Medigap plan and a public drug plan instead of a public Medicare Advantage supplement to supplement your Medicare? Perhaps you chose no supplement at all (but if so, as I noted above, you would be part of only a few percent of Medicare beneficiaries that does not supplement Medicare in some way). Almost 100% of Medicare beneficiaries supplement Medicare in some way because Medicare is such bad insurance. It has no catastrophic coverage (that is, Medicare still has lifetime limits even though PPACA outlawed lifetime limits for everyone else), no limit on annual out of pocket spending, no drug coverage, no vision/dental/hearing coverage, no annual physicals, no coverage outside the U.S., and very high co-pays and deductibles.

    A public Part C Medicare Advantage health plan eliminates almost all of those problems in Original Medicare. A private Medigap plan plus a public or private drug plan eliminates most but not all of those problems in Original Medicare.

    I certainly hope you didn’t make your decision because you are convinced that it is/was “a GOP plan.” Medicare Advantage — first as demonstration projects and later as actual law — has been in existence for 30 years. The demonstrations were approved by a Democratic Congress in 1982 and signed into law by President Reagan. The actual law was approved by a Republican Congress in 1997 and signed into law by President Clinton.

    You say

    “Medicare Advantage costs the government more than Medicare. (Medicare Advantage” will be restructured under Obamacare to help fund extending insurance to 30 million of the uninsured.”

    There is actually no restructuring of the public Part C Medicare Advantage health plan program by PPACA. I think you are referring to the fact that in 2010 PPACA cut the extra funding for the rural and urban poor that had been added to Medicare Advantage by a 2003 law that amended the 1997 law. Those cuts to urban and rural poor people on Part C Medicare Advantage health plans have already taken place (you seem to think that they will happen in the future) and those poor people are being moved back to Medicaid (ironically often using voucher programs as you call them). But this PPACA change has had little or no affect on the Medicare beneficiaries that use Medicare Advantage HMOs. The HMOS have never cost more the government “more than Medicare.”

    I am truly sorry that your Congressperson could not explain all this to you at his or her town hall meeting.

    • Thank you for your time and comment. I shall read and re-read it again.
      Having re-read your comment, my additional response is that Medicare is run by the government (that I trust) and Medicare Advantage is run by private, for profit insurers (that I don’t trust). If enough people switch to Medicare Advantage, Medicare will be terminated and vouchers offered for Medicare Advantage. The vouchers will not keep pace with healthcare inflation and seniors will be forced to pay more or downgrade their coverage as in the proposed chained CPI for Social Security.

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