The article and interview ("Health economist talks about fixing Medicare," Jan. 18) with Professor Tim McBride mentioned the need to increase funding for Social Security but did not include the important point that the Social Security Trust Fund has calculated that it is solvent until 2033. It does state that making all wages subject to Social Security withholding and subject to employer contributions would be a way to solve the funding problem. That is, in fact, the major solution that is being proposed by Social Security benefits advocacy groups, but the suggestion that there be "less generous inflation increases" is rejected completely by progressive groups and economists. This idea, called "the chained CPI," meaning Consumer Price Index, incorrectly presumes that seniors will shop for less expensive items, such as a less expensive hip replacement, and would be a cut to Social Security benefits that an advanced, civilized country should not make.
The article does not mention that Medicare Advantage programs use funds for administration of private companies that is far higher than the cost of administering Medicare, and for the companies' profit, instead of for services, and, therefore, are counterproductive to the interests of seniors. It could have also mentioned that Medicare Advantage programs are attractive to seniors because they seem to be a bargain. However, as one employee of an Advantage program agreed with a consumer at a promotional meeting, "you pay either on the front end or at the end," meaning lower premiums are combined with higher payments for services later.
Medicare Advantage should be eliminated. The article's suggestion that Medicare services should be cut is wrong, unless it is Medicare Advantage. Seniors deserve good medical care, just like the medical care provided by the developed countries who have universal health care programs.
Suzanne Reinhold • Des Peres