Yesterday, Senate Democrats working on health care reform reached a compromise on the public option that will create a network of nonprofit insurers and allow Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 to buy into Medicare. The right has hypocritically opposed a government-run public-option while simultaneously defending Medicare. On his radio show today, Fox News host Glenn Beck called Medicare what it is — a “government-run health care plan.”
Beck attacked the new compromise and proposed a simple solution of his own — “abolish Medicare”:
CO-HOST: This is unbelievable, because the whole thing with the public option, is we were saying this is going to be like Medicare, they just want to make a big — make another Medicare program. And then they said no, public option is just competition.
BECK: And, wait wait wait. And I also said why don’t you just abolish Medicare, because it’s so wildly corrupt and out of control. It’s so inefficient, it is so bad and there’s $47 billion in suspected wrong payments, okay, in Medicare. So what are they saying — now remember, what we’re going to do — the compromise is we’re going to expand Medicare. That way there won’t be a public option, we’ll just — which doesn’t make any sense — we’re going to expand Medicare.
Medicare is actually more efficient than private health insurance and would be better at controlling costs than weaker public option plans. And while Republicans strongly opposed Medicare when it was created under President Johnson, it has become popular over time. When Rep. Anthony Wiener (D-NY) introduced an amendment to eliminate Medicare in July — urging conservatives to “put-up or shut-up” about their objection to government-run health care. Not a single member of Congress voted in favor.
Moreover, Medicare is hugely successful. Before it came into being, more than one in four seniors lacked health care and a third lived in poverty. Now every American over 65 has access to quality care. A Commonwealth Fund study found that people with Medicare “report fewer problems obtaining medical care, and less financial hardship due to medical bills, and higher overall satisfaction with their coverage,” compared to people with employer-provided care. 56 percent of Medicare beneficiaries rate their coverage a 9 or 10 on a scale of 10 while only 40 percent with private insurance do so.