The Ed Show | November 29, 2012
>>> democrats like to pretend as though they're the great protecters of social security , medicare , and medicaid. they make solemn pledges all the time about how they won't even entertain a discussion about reform.
>> and we are back. that's senate minority leader mitch mcconnell saying democrats won't even entertain a discussion of reforming entitlement programs ? simply not true. democrats want to extend the life of these programs. the real issue is what kind of reform are you talking about? medicare is central to the discussion because republicans want to cut benefits. or raise the eligibility age. president obama has a plan to get savings out of medicare on the provider side. it's obviously an important distinction. president obama 's 2013 budget would cut $340 billion out of medicare over 10 years primarily through these 4 methods. requiring drugmakers to pay rebates to medicare in some circumstances. and they want to reduce costs by discouraging hospitals from releasing patients too early and then readmitting them which is more expensive. also, reducing coverage of bad debts of hospitals and nursing homes . and charging higher premiums to high-income beneficiaries. there is nothing in those four measures which raises the eligibility age or cuts benefits to medicare recipients. today, we got further confirmation about the administration's proposal in the fiscal cliff negotiations. medicare and other entitlements would be cut by $400 billion over 10 years. let's bring in wendell potter, to sort it out. mr. potter is a columnist for the center for public integrity and "the huffington post " and author of the book "deadly spin." wendell , great to have you back with us here on "the ed show."
>> thank you, ed.
>> sort this out for us. when the white house says it has in its budget a cut of $340 billion, maybe up to $400 billion, is that going to hit beneficiaries? is that going to affect people that go in and see the doctor?
>> no, not nearly as much as it would if they were to raise the eligibility age to 67 which is not on the table and it shouldn't be. or cutting benefits. and these cuts or reductions in payments are not targeted to doctors. at least at this point. they are to hospitals and to nursing homes and home health agencies. as you said, drugmakers. and these are areas that the medicare payment advisory commission has long said need to be -- these are cuts that should be made and has been, need to be made for some time now.
>> now, i'm told by my sources on capitol hill that if you were to run the veterans administration the way they do their drug system, as opposed to medicare , that you would find instantly $150 billion. is that correct?
>> that's true, because the v.a. has the ability to negotiate prices with the drugmakers. and the medicare part "d" program, prescription "d" program doesn't have that because of the way the law was passed and republicans wouldn't go along with that. so we have a lot of ability here to reduce unnecessary spending by doing some things that would make a lot of sense just like the v.a. does it.
>> so what do you make of the republicans saying they don't see the hard numbers? they don't see the cuts?
>> they're just being very disingenuous and they don't want to be the ones to bring a plan to the table. and they're going to have to do that when it comes right down to it, because the president has laid out something that does reduce the entitlement program significantly. and now it's going to be up to the republicans to say if this -- the president to say if this is not good enough, then tell us what is.
>> so one republican talking point is that doctors will no longer take medicare patients because of obama care and oather measures. what's your assessment of that?
>> i don't think that's the case at all. in fact, this doesn't actually increase the number of medicare beneficiaries and it doesn't reduce payments to doctors. so that shouldn't occur at all. and what we will see is that the medicaid program will be broadened and that will be one of the ways that more americans will be coming into coverage. that's separate from what we're talking about here now.
>> but that's a good way to expand the coverage to low-income individuals.
>> what about the $716 billion in savings that was already taken to fund obama care? this was, of course, a big political football back and forth on the campaign trail. how does that play into the budget at this point?
>> well, that number would presumably, as i understand it, would continue to go forward. that represents a reduction in medicare spending of $716 billion over 10 years. and that, too, would come out of hospitals and other health care providers, not doctors necessarily. and also health insurers . health insurance companies have been paid many billions of dollars over the years to participate in something called a medicare add vantavantage program. that needs -- those overpayments need to end, and that would end under this program.
>> i think we're seeing the republican ideology play out in this budget fight because they really don't want these programs. they want to get a chunk of them now and then the whole thing later on it seems like. they're all about privatization. and the eligibility age of medicare , if it were to go up, do you think the democrats would ever go with that? not now, but down the road?
>> i don't think so. i don't think they should, either. it makes no sense. one thing, if you do that, you're taking really the healthiest medicare beneficiaries out of the pool.
>> and you're putting them at risk. they would have to go back in the private market and pay the highest premiums, much more than they would pay. it's doing nothing more than shifting costs. it's not taking costs out of the system.
>> wendell potter, great to have you with us here on "the ed show" tonight. great resource to this subject. thank you.
>>> joe biden heads to costco and talks up the middle class tax cut . costco has a history of being on the side of the middle class . and i'll talk with "new york times" reporter steven greenhouse about that and much more.
>>> then, a bankruptcy judge has baked up a very sweet deal for the highest paid executives at hostess. but the employees, they're getting burned. we'll talk about that. it's not