Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Rav’s Rave Number Eight – Military Healthcare, Medicare and Social Security

I get that this country is in a financial crisis, and that cuts must be made, in order to balance the budget.  That being said, there are many things being done or considered that are just outrageous.

First off, generations of military volunteers were promised “Free Healthcare for Life” if we served a full career.  I understand that free healthcare is not a rational option, however, I think that there are many places that cuts should be made prior to looking at the benefits of the military and veterans.

Before any military or veteran benefits or compensation are cut, I believe very strongly that every civilian in the Federal Government, from the President down to the lowest GS-1 and contract employee, must have their compensation and benefits reviews and adjusted first.  People who don’t deploy and don’t go in the line of fire do not deserve to have their compensation protected, while the military is made fair game, just because civil servants can unionize.

While the shooting of Representative Giffords and the others this past weekend is an outrage and a huge tragedy, I do not consider legislators and other civil servants who face danger at the hands of local lunatics to be in the same boat as the military.

Second, totally disabled veterans should automatically be granted both 100% disability compensation from the VA and Social Security Disability, both of which we have paid for. Many of us, myself included, are forced to fight one or both of these administrations to get the benefits that we have paid for through taxes and our lives.

Regarding Social Security, for many years there has been a surplus in the Social Security fund, and this money has been raided to offset the deficit in the general fund.  This makes the Social Security withholding a de-facto regressive income tax, since there is an earning cap on Social Security deductions.  I believe, therefore, that there should be no cap on Social Security taxes, and that all earnings should be subject to this tax.

Regarding Medicare, this is another benefit that we pay for.  Yet frequently, Medicare rates are cut to help offset the general fund deficit.  Medicare already pays less than most doctors can afford – they lose money seeing Medicare patients.  It is getting harder and harder for Medicare beneficiaries (and military retirees, whose TRICARE benefits are tied to what Medicare pays) to find doctors who will care for them.  Yet, there is a proposal to further cut Medicare payments by over 25%. 

There certainly can be many ways that healthcare costs can be reduced, but people have paid for their Medicare benefits, and to make it so difficult to find doctors is ridiculous.
Regarding Medicaid, The ObamaCare plan was a very poor attempt to solve the problem of the uninsured in this country.  What needs to be kept in mind, however, is that we already pay for all the uninsured in this country through Medicaid.  People without healthcare go to Emergency Rooms throughout the country, and they are required to treat everyone, irrespective of ability to pay. So people use Emergency rooms as their healthcare plan, primary medical care, etc.  There needs to be a more effective way to pay for this healthcare.

A very large percentage of the Medicaid beneficiaries are illegal immigrants.  There are many who say that all illegal immigrants should immediately be deported.  I disagree.  I believe that there must be immediate amnesty for all illegals – make them citizens, so they pay taxes. 

There is plenty of room in the Federal budget for cuts, but these cuts should not be on the backs of the military, and for those who have worked full careers and paid into Social Security and Medicare.