More health care reform scare tactics

It's really disturbing to see folks continuing to respond to and perpetuate the misguided anti-health reform rantings of the right. ("Obamacare would hurt seniors" and "Medicare cuts means rationing," Readers respond, January 29). These are the same alarmist messages circulated last summer; and since that time the AARP, which studied the situation for most of the year before taking a position, concluded that it is in the best interests of seniors that the pending legislation become law.

The proposed health care legislation does not provide for "cuts in Medicare funding" of $500 billion. Rather, it provides for $500 billion in "savings" from the future growth in Medicare spending over the next 10 years. The savings are expected to be achieved mainly by: reducing fraud and waste more aggressively; reducing government subsidies to private Medicare Advantage plans; paying doctors more for practices that improve quality of care and save money; and paying providers (notably hospitals and home health agencies) a little less of an increase each year in an effort to gradually trim the rate at which Medicare costs climb over time.

What opponents of health care reform choose to ignore is: What happens to Medicare if nothing is done? If Medicare's expenditures continue to grow unchecked at the present rate, we are told that they will exceed its income as early as 2017. The only way it could then address the problem would be to raise payroll taxes, or reduce benefits, or increase enrollees' share of the costs, or a combination of all three. If nothing is done, beneficiaries' out-of-pocket Medicare expenses will eat up an increasing part of their Social Security checks. Now that is alarming!

Dan Tracy, Baltimore