The Think Tank
8-24-2011 1:12:51 PM

Ezekiel J. Emanuel is an oncologist and former White House adviser who will be a professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania beginning in September. He will be contributing regularly to Op-Ed.

RIGHT now cancer care is being rationed in the United States.

Probably to their great disappointment, President Obama’s critics cannot blame this rationing on death panels or health care reform. Rather, it is caused by a severe ...

8-24-2011 12:59:39 PM

MEDICARE is going to be cut. That is inevitable. There is no way to solve the nation’s long-term debt problem without reducing the growth rate of federal health care spending. The only question is whether the cuts will be smart ones.

Smart cuts eliminate spending on medical tests, treatments and procedures that don’t work — or that cost significantly more than other treatments while delivering no better health outcomes. And they can be made ...

8-15-2011 7:54:08 PM

So they’re really going to propose it.

More when we have some details. But two key points:

1. Privatizing and voucherizing Medicare does nothing whatsoever to control costs. We’ve seen that from the sorry history of Medicare Advantage. I’m sure that the Republicans will claim savings — but those savings will come entirely from limiting the vouchers to below the rate of rise in health care costs; in effect, they will come from denying ...

8-14-2011 4:22:22 PM
Dr. Larry Bucshon [8th District U.S. representative] masquerades as a fiscally responsible Republican, like other Republicans seeking to dismantle Medicare. He might be credible if he were willing to examine a multipronged approach that addresses fiscal concern while maintaining the value of health and human life. It is particularly hypocritical, considering Bush raised the debt ceiling every year of his presidency to fund a bogus war. All options should include raising revenue.

The Ryan ...
8-7-2011 10:12:18 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The credit rating agency Standard & Poor's showed "terrible judgment" in lowering the U.S. government'scredit ratingTreasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Sunday.

"They've handled themselves very poorly. And they've shown a stunning lack of knowledge about the basic U.S. fiscal budget math," Geithner said in his first public comments about the credit rating decision.

Interviewed on CNBC, Geither said that U.S. Treasury securities were just as safe now as they ...

8-7-2011 7:57:23 PM

On Meet the Press this morning, Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.) blamed Tea Party House members for the S & P’s downgrade.

“I believe this is, without question, the Tea Party downgrade,” Kerry said. “This is the Tea Party downgrade because a minority of people in the House of Representatives countered the will of even many Republicans in the United States senate who were prepared to do a bigger deal, to do $4.7 trillion dollars, $4 trillion ...

8-7-2011 7:53:59 PM

WASHINGTON — A top White House adviser is blaming the downgrade of the U.S. credit rating on Tea Party Republicans, whom he says were unwilling to compromise on how to reduce the federal debt.

The adviser to President Barack Obama, David Axelrod, tells CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday that the decision by the Standard & Poor's credit agency to downgrade the U.S. from AAA to AA+ for the first time was strongly influenced by ...

8-6-2011 7:41:32 PM
Taking a page from the tea party activists who hammered Democrats at their town hall meetings two summers ago, liberal partisans are making signs, preparing pointed questions, and turning out for Republican congressional town hall meetings.

They're hoping to score political points and also seeking political gold — embarrassing YouTube moments.

Tuesday night was U.S. Rep. Allen West's turn.

A small contingent of protesters showed up two hours before his monthly Broward County town hall ...

8-6-2011 6:58:36 PM

With the Senate having finally passed a debt ceiling deal, many are asking if a crisis has really been avoided.

If you ask Missouri Congressman and Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chairman Emmanuel Cleaver the answer would be a resounding no.

In what has to be the most colorful description of anything political in 2011, the chairman described the deal as a "sugar coated Satan sandwich", that was void of anything that ensured the protection of America's ...

8-6-2011 6:51:58 PM

House Republicans are sharpening their message – but not backing down – after a surprise drubbing in a New York special election in which the Democratic victor targeted their plans to overhaul Medicare.

One reason the party is not running scared is that 2012 elections are more than a year away. Moreover, the 87-member GOP freshmen class campaigned on making bold, tough choices to get the nation’s fiscal house in order. Taking hits was to be expected, ...

8-6-2011 6:41:48 PM

With Medicare at the top of U.S. lawmakers' fall agenda, Tea Party movement leaders hope to ignite support for Republican plans to transform the popular federal healthcare program for the elderly.

Thousands of Tea Party movement activists are expected to descend this month on town hall meetings across key battleground states as part of an intensifying campaign ahead of the 2012 presidential and congressional elections.

Their priority is a plan to slash Medicare costs proposed ...

8-6-2011 2:17:17 PM
The public offers a mixed reaction to a proposal to change Medicare into a program that would give future participants a credit toward purchasing private health insurance coverage: 41% oppose such a change, 36% favor it, and nearly a quarter (23%) have no opinion either way. Despite this even division of opinion overall, there is broad, and strong, opposition to the proposal among older Americans, and those who are paying a lot of attention to the issue.

Those ...

8-6-2011 2:07:30 PM
Most Americans say they don't believe Medicare has to be cut to balance the federal budget, and ditto for Social Security, a new poll shows.

The Associated Press-GfK poll suggests that arguments for overhauling the massive benefit programs to pare government debt have failed to sway the public. The debate is unlikely to be resolved before next year's elections for president and Congress.

Americans worry about the future of the retirement safety net, the poll ...

8-6-2011 12:55:11 AM

The bad economy has shortened the life of the trust funds that support Social Security and Medicare, the nation's two biggest benefit programs, the government reported Friday.

The annual checkup said that the Medicare hospital insurance fund will now be exhausted in 2024, five years earlier than last year's estimate. The new report says that the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted in 2036, one year earlier than before.

The trustees for the funds said in ...

8-5-2011 8:57:26 PM

Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit) is fed up with both President Obama, in part because of his alleged willingness during debt ceiling negotiations to make entitlement cuts, and Congress, because of what he calls its inaction on job creation. The 24-term lawmaker on Wednesday called for a protest in front of the White House.

“We’ve got to educate the American people at the same time we educate the president of the United States. The Republicans, ...

6-17-2011 7:39:51 PM

Every once in a while a politician comes up with an idea that’s so bad, so wrongheaded, that you’re almost grateful. For really bad ideas can help illustrate the extent to which policy discourse has gone off the rails.

And so it was with Senator Joseph Lieberman’s proposal, released last week, to raise the age for Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67.

Like Republicans who want to end Medicare as we know it and ...

6-17-2011 7:30:34 PM

WASHINGTON — A month ago, the most important issues in New York's 26th Congressional District were the budget deficit, jobs, health care and taxes. If Medicare was an issue, pollsters didn't ask about it.

By the time Democrat Kathy Hochul declared an upset victory over Republican Jane Corwin in the special election Tuesday night in the western New York district, Medicare was the defining issue.

According to a Siena College Research Institute poll conducted late ...

6-17-2011 7:15:28 PM
By Anil Ranawat, MD; Ryan M. Nunley MD; and the Washington Health Policy Fellows

An estimated $2.3 trillion was spent on health care in the United States in 2007, and the cost of health care continues to grow at an astronomical rate. The $432 billion spent on Medicare in 2007 accounted for more than 3 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).

Growing concern about the rate of healthcare spending has forced policymakers and third-party payors to evaluate ...