The sketchy outline of Sen. Harry Reid's latest "deal" is progress all right, but only for those who want a single-payer system, full-speed ahead and damn the fiscal torpedoes. Opening Medicare to everyone ages 55 to 64 is expanding government-run health care. Government sets the payment rates. This price-fixing means hospitals and doctors get paid much less than they would be paid by insurance companies. Government decides whether patient claims are allowed: Medicare's refusal rate is twice the average of insurance companies. And does it really make sense to expand a Medicare program that's already going to be broke by 2017, when its revenue is projected to be less than its annual outlays? The Reid bill does expand coverage by roughly 31 million people, but 15 million of them get coverage by being dropped into Medicaid, which is second-class health care and is already busting most state governments' budgets. New numbers from the Joint Committee on Taxation show 11 percent of middle-class Americans will be better off through a combination of subsidies and tax changes, but 41 percent will be worse off, suffering premium and tax increases. No wonder public opinion continues swinging against proposals being shoved through Congress.
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