Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Meanwhile in Washington, Dean Heller Doubles Down on Killing Medicare

Even though it feels like most of the action lately has been coming out of Carson City, there have also been some interesting developments from DC. For one, Dean Heller voted (again) to kill Medicare. And all of a sudden, he has a fight on his hands.

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) has the distinction of taking a second vote in support of Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget plan.

Heller was one of 40 Republicans who voted for the Ryan budget plan in the Senate on Wednesday. He also voted for it last month when he was still a member of the House. Heller was sworn in to replace former Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) in early May. The House had voted on Ryan's plan in April.

The Nevada Democrats quickly sent out a release that foreshadows the attacks likely to come in next year's Senate race: "Unelected senator doubles down on plan to end Medicare."

Of course, Republicans (and their corporate media enablers) are now crying about "Mediscare". They may call telling the truth "scare tactics", but the facts say otherwise.

[...T]he key consequence of privatization would be a steep increase in the per unit cost of health care services. Medicare is able to use its semi-monopsony status to drive down prices. If privatized the cost of treating the typical 65 year-old would increase by around 40 percent. Paul Ryan’s version of privatization then “saves” a tiny bit of money for the taxpayer by simply paying a much smaller share of the now much-higher bill. Then he promises to save large sums of money over the long term by ensuring that the share of the higher bill that the government covers will shrink drastically over time. This shrinkage in the value of the government health care coupon either won’t occur (in which case all privatization will do is increase costs) or else it will occur (in which case over 100% of the savings will come from people going without health care services they need) and in either case the consequences are scary.

And Dean Heller's response? Oh darn, Shelley Berkley is being "so mean!" Never mind that Heller is proud to have voted twice this year to kill Medicare and force seniors to spend more money (they may not have) on prescription drugs, preventive care, and much more.

So why again is Dean Heller in Washington? Is he really representing Nevada?

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