* Medicare * Real Deficit “Courage”

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

* Medicare * Real Deficit “Courage”

WASHINGTON - STEFFIE WOOLHANDLER, M.D., MARGARET FLOWERS, M.D.

Woolhandler, a professor of public health at CUNY and visiting professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, is a co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program. She said today: “Congressman Ryan promises to save money by ending Medicare and instead giving seniors a voucher to pay for private insurance. But this scheme only saves money by leaving seniors to pay a larger and larger share of the premiums out of their own pockets — something few can afford. This unraveling of Medicare would return us to the bad old days before Medicare when most seniors couldn’t get the care they needed. And his plan for Medicaid mirrors this turn-the-clock-back approach. As in the 1950s, he’d give states limited block grants to care for the poor — grants that weren’t (and won’t be) tied to the actual cost of that care. If his plan is implemented, thousands will die; seniors unable to afford the miracles of modern medicine, and the poor denied even the most basic level of care.” Flowers is a congressional fellow at PNHP and recently wrote the piece “Ryan turns knife on Medicare, Medicaid.”

THOMAS FERGUSON

Ferguson is professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and a senior fellow of the Roosevelt Institute. He said today: “As we await the President’s plan for the deficit and the next round of the Congressional follies on the debt ceiling, we had all better remind ourselves of a few basic facts. Firstly, in America’s polarized money-driven political system, the politicians who just voted a two year extension of the Bush tax cuts for the super rich aren’t showing ‘courage’ when they try to gut Medicare and Medicaid and deprive Americans of access to basic health care — they are just rewarding contributors. Real courage would lead Congress and the President to change the law to allow the the government to bargain with Big Pharma over drug prices and enforce anti-trust laws on hospital chains, testing laboratories, and medical practices that are forming ‘networks’ with even more market power. Secondly, no matter how many politicians and experts claim the opposite, it’s obvious from the last Trustees’ Report that Social Security is not going broke and doesn’t need fixing for decades, if ever.

“If you are seriously concerned with the deficit, it cannot make sense to repeat the errors of the Great Depression and keep chopping government expenditures at a moment when states are cutting back and banks and corporations are still trying to dig themselves out of past debts. But cheer up — there is a silver lining: With polls showing that even many Tea Party members want Social Security left alone, there is hope that lawmakers who respond to money and blankly ignore the will of the people will get exactly what they deserve in the 2012 elections.”

Recent interviews with Ferguson: huffingtonpost.com and video on The Real News

Recent papers by Ferguson: “A World Upside Down? Deficit Fantasies in the Great Recession

“Legislators Never Bowl Alone: Big Money, Mass Media, and the Polarization of Congress” [PDF]

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