McCaughey Follow-Up: Medicare Eligibility

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Yesterday on the program Betsy McCaughey, critic of the Democratic health care proposals, argued that raising the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 70 was recommended by the Congressional Budget Office and could keep the program solvent. Igor Volsky, health researcher at Think Progress, looked into the claim, and helps follow-up on other parts of McCaughey's argument.


Igor Volsky

Comments [45]

Christina from Manhattan

Ed - tort reform does little to save costs, that's why. Missouri enacted very strict tort reform a few years ago and health care costs have not only not gone down, as a result, they have actually increased.

This is a fantasy argument, keep bringing it up, but it doesn't actually do anythign.

Sep. 02 2009 05:57 PM
Isa Kocher from kucukcekmece turkey


ScienceDaily (Sep. 1, 2009) — A team approach to preventive healthcare delivery for older adults developed by researchers from Indiana University and the Regenstrief Institute improves health and quality of life, decreased emergency department visits and lowered hospital admission rates. By the second year the new model saved money for the sickest (those with three to four chronic diseases), and in the third year, a year after the home-based intervention ended, it saved even more.

Sep. 01 2009 07:59 PM
Eugenia Renskoff from Williamsburgh, Brooklyn

Hello, As one of the previous comments says, How many people die because of health insurance? I don't see that this is of importance to the politicians who want our vote come election time. Today, I was rudely reminded of this fact when I was let go of a volunteergig for Empty Cages Collective. To the person firing me, it didn't matter that a feral cat might bite me. And I as a human being want to matter. Getting sick is not an option. Eugenia Renskoff

Sep. 01 2009 07:44 PM
hjs from 11211

"Are Americans so deluded " YES they are! this nation is full of crazy people.
profit uber alles!

i also think it's odd that americans don't seem to understand WE are the government.

Sep. 01 2009 01:31 PM
hjs from 11211

ok, thanks for the info. i'll keep my eyes open

Sep. 01 2009 01:12 PM
Tim Kunz from Baldwin, NY

It seems clear that our good, average flag waving American citizens don't trust their government. It seems that most Republican Congressmen and Senators agree with those that don't trust the government. And, right about here is where I get completely lost. It seems the only alternative to a government health care system is a private one; that is, that we continue, basically, to do what we've been doing: that the companies that derive their enormous profits from our need for health care will continue to decidecost and availability of every medical service and professional. Even more astounding, is the well documented that these insurance companies derive the biggest percentage of their enormous profits from end-of-life health care.

Ergo: many Americans would rather people who profit from our deaths to decide end of life medical care rather than involve the people that we elect and pay to make life and death decisions. We also have a healthcare system that is not only the most costly in the world, it also one in which costs are growing exponentially, as it consistently produces results that are well below average for developed countries. This leads to obvious questions:

Has the government of the people, by the people and for the people perished from the earth?
Are some Americans so deluded that they would rather people who profit wildly from our heath care and deaths to be the ones who make health decisions?
If the government cannot be trusted, then for starters, to whom will we turn to protect the water and food supply, print the dollars that I hope to earn, repair the roads, bridges and communication systems upon which our economy depends for its existence, support and direct our military to defend our nation?
Why can't we just throw out the Republicans in government who have confessed, indicted and convicted themselves to be completely unworthy of our trust?

Tim Kunz,
Baldwin, NY

Sep. 01 2009 01:09 PM
Ed from NYC

hjs I don't know a lot about this, but it was easy to find the 2 studies I cited above--they indicate that in at least some states with tort reform, costs tend to go down and medical services improve, significantly, including for African Americans.

Sep. 01 2009 01:08 PM
hjs from 11211

the left says several states have done tort reform and there was no change in costs, true or false?

Sep. 01 2009 12:35 PM
Mark Zimmermann from Brooklyn

Brian, you started to corner Igor on the subject of the costs to seniors. They WILL have to give up some of the generous benefits allowed them now in the interests of the public good. He weasled out & you let him; but I think it's vital to point out that Betsy McCaughey weasled out of the same type of admission--she may champion retaining senior healthcare benefits as is, but she does so at the cost to the uninsured, the underinsured and everyone else that this healthcare reform was supposed to help.

McCaughey's blather is typical of reactionary conservative thinking since Reagan. The measures they support will work great for the people that can afford it. Everyone else is on their own; and for Betsy McCaughey, they don't even rate mention.

One more thing, I wish SOMEONE would challenge these loose assertions Republicans make that because people are afraid to lose what coverage they have (however limited, they are actually HAPPY with their plans. I take exception to statements like McCaughey's that high deductible plans are what "young people like so much". Does anybody seriosly think that people are happy with $1500, $2K, $5K deductibles? What choice do they have? The insurance companies are phasing out all the other plans in favor of these plans.

Sep. 01 2009 12:15 PM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

Go Ed!

Sep. 01 2009 12:14 PM
Ed from NYC

#30 regarding tort reform: "According to the 900 doctors anonymously surveyed, on average, 18% to 28% of tests, procedures, referrals and consultations and 13% of hospitalizations were ordered to avoid lawsuits. All of this adds at least $1.4 billion to annual health care costs in Massachusetts alone, and national estimates range as high as $200 billion."

Why is tort reform absent from the democratic proposals?
“The only reason the lawyers escape scot-free is that they give so much money -- 95 percent of their federal campaign donations in virtually every election cycle -- to the Democrats who are writing the bills."

It's too bad that this sort of information is politically incorrect on NPR.

Sep. 01 2009 11:45 AM
Barbara Conn from Mount Vernon NY

that last word in my comment should read uninsured

Sep. 01 2009 11:04 AM
Barbara Conn from Mount Vernon NY

I find it both interesting and upsetting to hear all the brouhaha about rationing health care.
There seems to be very little attention paid to rationing when it comes to public education,
or to access for effective legal counsel.
Obviously it(rationing) matters only as a political approach to discredit health care reform. I strongly favour a single payer system, paid for via personal income taxes.
I have Canadian and American citizenship and have experience of health care in both countries.
I do not understand how easily the American public is swayed by spurious arguments, nor how the pubic conscience (is there one?) can abide the specter of millions of unemployed.

Sep. 01 2009 11:02 AM
Lance from Manhattan

One of the main reasons Americans have shorter life expectancies is that we are a helluva lot fatter.
I just returned from a visit to Russia. It's quite stunning to see how much higher the percentage of people with big bellies is in NYC (extremely high) compared to Moscow and St. Petersburg (much lower).

Sep. 01 2009 10:55 AM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

You fix what's broke; you don't break what works for the vast majority of the people of this country. The current health care system as flawed as it is works well for the vast majority of American citizens and legal resident aliens.

Most of the uninsured are young people (by choice) or illegal aliens. But I have a non-governmental solution. I think every well intentioned liberal family should adopt a poor family and take care of them. In return the poor folks, even illegal aliens could make their beds, do their dirty dishes and laundry and mow their lawns.

I know that happens now, but in my plan, the liberal families (many of whom are very wealthy) will actually give their domestic workers a living wage, health care and social security.

Too rich for your liberal "it takes a village" blood? I thought so. LOFL. Don’t worry after a few more years of Obama style government and the non-stop printing of money, we will all be living Soviet style with 2-3 families to an apartment. That will be a fun “village,” won’t it?

Sep. 01 2009 10:51 AM
hjs from 11211

what do u people mean by tort reform and why SHOULDN'T bad doctors be held accountable?

PS some studies say tort reform would effect 1% of the cost. insurance company profit is like 10-15%

Sep. 01 2009 10:50 AM
Peter from Fairfield from CT

I don't understand the lack of option for, say special "private"? insurance (something like the old "major medical") to cover those who feel no expense should be spared for an extra 5 months of life for a terminal illness in old age. The reformed coverage takes care of the basics plus prevention, and those who want more, or even coverage that makes little sense, can pay out of pocket. In my mind, if the choice is a replaced hip for a 96 year old or preventive early care for an entire school full of children in a disadvantaged part of the city, I'd choose the kids anytime. Even if it was my hip to be replaced.

Sep. 01 2009 10:49 AM
Ed from NYC

McCaughey was informed and formidable--she presented many good arguments. Thanks for having her on. Now you have the mic all by yourself and you are criticizing her on one point. Weak. Invite her back if you dare and if you want a real discussion about ObamaCare.

Sep. 01 2009 10:48 AM
Rich from Staten Island

Some other perspective on healthcare and finance, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) just announced about two weeks ago the 10th IPO of 2009 for a company called Emdeon Inc. The banner on the front of the NYSE was Emdeon - "Simplifying the Business of Healthcare". They are described as a leading provider of revenue and payment cycle management solutions. I wonder if any investors for this company are optimistic about a Public Option for health insurance.

Sep. 01 2009 10:46 AM
Isa Kocher from kucukcekmece turkey

that woman made false claims and lied about the facts with every assertion she made. every other advanced nation in the world has better outcome and more longevity at every age than the USA by providing universal health care, ...

...and those nations are coming out of this worst recessi0n since 1929 faster because people have better health care and businesses have lower costs getting back to work.

Sep. 01 2009 10:37 AM
Sandra from Astoria, Queens

Calls'em/Langley, PLEASE, I want to hear some more of your genius birther theories! Please please please????

Sep. 01 2009 10:37 AM
Cory from Crown Point, NY

This is unbelievable. Why wasn't someone like this guy -- only a lot more loud and aggressive -- combating McCaughey yesterday, instead of letting her walk all over Brian?

Sep. 01 2009 10:36 AM
hjs from 11211

CL, i'd rather hear one person all a time, instead of a shoutfest.

Chuzzlewit, WHAT!?!?! are we in 3rd grade?

Sep. 01 2009 10:35 AM
Joseph from Long Island

There she goes again. What "wonderful blue cross plan that lets you go to any doctor". I'm an insurance agent, those plans are a thing of the past. Today's plans make you pay dearly for Doctor choice.

Sep. 01 2009 10:33 AM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

How about a fair discussion of tort reform? Medical care costs started to sky-rocket when the plaintiff's bar took partial control of the Democrat party.

Let's establish some reasonable caps on verdicts and mal-practice insurance rates will fall, followed by medical costs. It's just as simple as that.

Why don’t you ever talk about tort reform? Too many attorney contributors to WNYC/NPR?

Sep. 01 2009 10:32 AM
hjs from 11211

u a zany birther are call me zany?? LOL!

McCaughey gets money to sell shareholder profiting healthcare. that's why she cares

Sep. 01 2009 10:30 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

#6 hjs, Amen on that. The notion of 20+ years of retirement on the government dime is historically unprecedented

Sep. 01 2009 10:28 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from manhattan

This guy is a terrible advocate...what a wimp. He makes Betsey sound good.

Sep. 01 2009 10:28 AM

Why in the world didn't BL have this person on the air yesterday with McCaughey?????

Sep. 01 2009 10:27 AM
Dorian from Manhattan

My understanding is that British doctors under their National Health Care system are given financial incentives for preventative care of the kind you're discussing.

So, for example, if a physician gets a patient to quit smoking or exercise more, that physician will be financially rewarded.

Does that work, and could it in our system?

Sep. 01 2009 10:27 AM
A Fisher from LIC

The word missing from a critique regarding Betsy's strategy (and the right generally) is "SPECIOUS".
From merriam-webster
2 : having deceptive attraction or allure
3 : having a false look of truth or genuineness : sophistic (*specious* reasoning)

(I learned it from farmer in "Food, Inc".)

Sep. 01 2009 10:26 AM
Isa Kocher from kucukcekmece turkey

she says things like 90% of health costs are because Americans have more money: Bull. Where does she get that!

she says that health costs are for the last weeks of life because people get sick and die which means we are paying for medicine that is killing people and NOT keeping them healthy

other nations have FAR better outcome because people live better.

The USA has the worst life expectancy for seniors at age 60.

All across aboard the USA has the worst outcomes at every age from neonate to advanced age. That is why we spend so much money. Most Americans are not richer and poorer Americans die younger and more horribly so the wealthy few can die more comfortably.

Sep. 01 2009 10:26 AM
Voter from Brooklyn


You seem to have missed one key point of spending healthcare dollars on the young (which apparently you don’t want 20 year olds to get, what about 10 year olds?)… This is preventing us from having even more ailing elderly in the future. Teach healthy living and preventative medicine on the young so that when today’s youth are approaching the autumn of their years they won’t have all of the issues Boomers have.

Sep. 01 2009 10:26 AM
charles harris md from ISLAND HEIGHTS NJ

the totl healtgh care bill in 2007 was 2.2w trillion dollars. only 50% was medical and hospital care. how about talking about paring from the other 50 % which is 1.1 ttrillion dollars.

for primary care, see;

Sep. 01 2009 10:25 AM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

OMG Brian, how could you have someone on your program that is against ObamaCare? Some of your listeners’ heads blew up yesterday at just hearing Betsy speak. And good choice, too. Instead of some established conservative think tank PhD or university professor, you bring on someone you can personally attack. Why do libs hate strong and successful women? Oh, excuse me; they only hate strong and successful Republican women.

Listen up folks, ObamaCare and there are so many versions and rumors out there, but ObamaCare as proposed in the first 1000+ page bill that people have actually gotten to read is filled with civil rights intrusions as well as economic and health care disasters for the people of this country. You fix what's broke; you don't break what works for the vast majority of the people of this country.

Wake-up you zany NPR listeners, wake-up as most around this country have as shown by Obama’s falling poll ratings -- Obama and the radical Dems are using health care as a power grab of another sector of the economy, as they did with banking and auto manufacturing.

Brian, I challenge you to provide fair and balanced coverage of this issue as well as others such as the disastrous "Cap and Trade" bill. These people will wreck the economy and in doing so wreck America’s future; and that includes your own kids. God bless you Brian, do the right thing.

Sep. 01 2009 10:22 AM
Nancy from NYC

Yes, we need to get rid of "fee for service" medicine. How do the various European countries and Canada pay physicians for care or, in the lingo of the day, incentivize physicians?

Anyone know?

Brian, we could really use a segment on this issue: what are the possible alternatives for "fee for service"; how do they do it in other Western countries?

Thank you!

Sep. 01 2009 10:21 AM
Leif Smith from Redding Ct

If the whole medical profession was not controlled by private, for-profit entities, the cost of all health care would drop dramatically.
A nation that puts the profits of its corporations over the well-being of its people is on a path to disaster.

Sep. 01 2009 10:21 AM
Laurie from Ravinia

We want to LOWER, not raise the entry age for Medicare. Admitting more younger healthier members to the program increases the money paid in relative to the number of expensive older patients, lowering average per-person cost.

Sep. 01 2009 10:20 AM
SUE from Bronx, NY

You can cut the real waste by not subsidizing the insurance companies that Medicare sends its large chunks of money too. Original Medicare is not in trouble and there are no significant cuts in it. And there would be more money for doctors if it were not for the subsidies to the insurance companies.

Sep. 01 2009 10:19 AM
hjs from 11211

i have no problem working until 70 or 75 but only if the boomers start paying their fair share NOW! the free ride is over. end bush's tax cuts and we can pay for a modern america

Sep. 01 2009 10:13 AM
Karen from NYC

Thank god; the truth.

Sep. 01 2009 10:09 AM
Steve (the other one) from Manhattan

Betsy is like Dick Cheney - she never appears opposite anyone with differing views, and she never takes any questions. It's disgusting.

Sep. 01 2009 10:09 AM
hjs from 11211

how many americans die BECAUSE they have no health insurance?
what value do those lives have?
what is the efffect on GDP?

Sep. 01 2009 09:49 AM

Make sure that Igor Volsky gets as minutes on air as Betsy McCaughey. I'm setting my stopwatch just to keep you honest.

Sep. 01 2009 09:47 AM
Hugh from Brooklyn

I'm glad you're having someone do some fact-checking following the blizzard of misinformation Betsy McCaughey offered yesterday. I continue to think however that having her on the air to begin with was a mistake. Brian, I love you, but you weren't prepared for what she was on the show to do, misinform with a flood of incorrect minutiae. Today appears to be an effort at correcting that.

Sep. 01 2009 09:22 AM

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