Medicare in the \'96 Elections


Among the many differences between President Bill Clinton (Democrat) and
Presidential Candidate Bob Dole (Republican), lays a common debate topic,
Healthcare. The issue is the fact that funding in Medicare\'s budget will not
last but another four years. Both Republicans and Democrats have ideas on how
this budget should be reformed, but the two have not yet come to a median
resolution. In the beginning of the Presidential campaign Medicare was a hot
topic. It will be shown that as Election Day drew nearer Republicans were
forced to attack President Clinton\'s policy because they had no substantial plan
of their own.
Prior to 1965, payment for a particular medical service was paid for
either directly by the recipient of the care or by the recipient\'s insurance
company. Usually to get full coverage or even coverage with a low premium the
rates are outrageous. For this reason many poor, elderly and severely disabled
Americans were unable to receive proper medical treatment. Then, in 1965,
Lyndon B. Johnson proposed one of his Great Society programs, Medicare.
Medicare would allow those who were severely disabled, elderly or poor to
receive quality medical treatment without worrying about the cost . This
government funded program would subsidize the service of physicians, inpatient
hospital care and some limited home care. The money would come from that money
set aside for Social Security. Medicare, along with its sister program,
Medicaid, allow broad access to physician and hospital care to all disabled
Social Security recipients, most all elderly and some of the poor.
Medicare has two parts, A and B. Part A, which covers all enrollees,
covers hospital costs only. Part B, also known as Supplementary Medical
Insurance (SMI), is an optional plan for which a premium is charged. The SMI
plan covers 80 percent of office visits, preventive medicine, surgery and
diagnostic specialties (x-rays, etc.). What Medicare does not cover include:
hospital stays over 60 days, extended nursing-home care, or the cost of lengthy
illnesses. In the cases where Medicare will not cover costs, recipients usually
use secondary retirement programs either from pension plans or retirement
programs such as AARP (American Association for Retired People). Those who do
not have such plans, are forced to drain their assets until they qualify for the
sister program Medicaid.
Medicaid is a program set up the same as Medicare but primarily for
those who fall short of the state-specified income level. Costs covered by
Medicaid are close to those covered by Medicare differing only by nursing-home
care and treatment in state mental hospitals . In 1965, at the same time the
U.S. began bombing Vietnam, those who were involved with planning the budget for
Medicare failed to foresee the fact that funding would not last past the year
2000. This error is what led each party to devise its own plan for reforming
the program.
Richard Feinberg, Ph.D. the Executive Director at Purdue Retail
Institute in his writing, The Clinton Health Care Reform Proposal, outlines a
few goals and restrictions of Clinton\'s proposal. The three main goals are as
follows: Control the costs of Health Care, Guarantee comprehensive coverage,
and improve the quality of care. President Clinton began his campaigning in
what looked to be like a relatively clean manner, as one reporter put it, "It
looked in the beginning as if President Clinton were already a ‘shoe-in\'… he
clearly stated his actions and anticipation for the direction of Health Care."
The confidence of President Bill Clinton was prevalent. He spoke of his actions
as definite future President and not "if I become…." This confidence allowed
him to focus on the important issues such as making clear his position on Health
Care and outlining steps to take in order to accomplish his goals.
While Republican hopeful Bob Dole criticized the President\'s plan, he
had no concrete plan of his own. According to Senator Bob Kerry, the Republican
"balanced" budget plan is a phony; "we\'ll tax our children to poverty -- unless
we get control of Medicare." GOP Senator John Danforth agrees that the
Republican proposal is tenuous but goes on to say, "…it [Medicare] should
definitely be means-tested, without a doubt." By means-tested, Senator Danforth
means each potential recipient of Medicare should be screened: the more money
one has, the less government support he/she should receive. This sounds good in
theory, however, when everyone receives the same deductions from their pay, they
tend to want equal claim to their portion of the support.
President Clinton\'s Plan would give everyone equal access to the service.
To support this he would require employers