Honest talk on Medicare

By other voices, Special to the BDN
Posted Sept. 25, 2011, at 6:22 p.m.

The other night, the leader of one of America’s great political parties came forth with a big “but” that ought to be noticed.

“But,” the president said in his speech to Congress, “here’s the truth.” And he then talked about Medicare.

It’s been little noticed that Barack Obama was saying some things that many in his own party don’t want to hear about Medicare.

“Millions of Americans rely on Medicare in their retirement. And millions more will do so in the future,” Obama said. “They pay for this benefit during their working years. They earn it. But with an aging population and rising health care costs, we are spending too fast to sustain the program.”

That kind of statement ought to be welcomed by Republicans, some of whom have been pilloried for saying similar things and backing a tough-on-Medicare budget resolution.

Of course, some of the same GOP members had dubiously trashed Obama’s health care bill last year as anti-Medicare, too.

The “but” was important, a political path to changes in Medicare to make it more sustainable before the financial tidal wave of baby boomer retirements breaks the health care system for everyone.

We would like to see more times when national leaders call for practical solutions that avoid the name-calling that brings politics down to the level of the elementary schoolyard.

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La. (Sept. 21)

Uninsured drivers

Most of us can rattle off a long list of negative effects from the economic downturn — from devalued real estate to diminished 401Ks.

But these days there is always room for one more.

The Insurance Research Council reports that with the recession, the number of uninsured drivers has been on the rise, and that increases the cost of auto accidents for everyone who pays for insurance. After declining for four straight years, the percentage of motorists with no insurance rose to 14.3 percent in 2008 and dropped slightly to 13.8 percent in 2009.

Because of the range of laws governing auto insurance, some states feel the impact more than others.

For example, the rate in West Virginia is lower than the national average at 11 percent. But Tri-State drivers can’t take much comfort in that because the rates in Kentucky and Ohio are 18 percent and 16 percent, respectively.

States in the West Virginia region would do well to go to school on the tougher requirements in Massachusetts, Maine and New York, where the percentage of uninsured drivers is around 5 percent, even during hard times.

Herald Dispatch, Huntington, W.Va. (Sept. 21)

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/09/25/opinion/other-voices/honest-talk-on-medicare/ printed on November 28, 2014