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September 15, 1995 - Image 9

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-09-15

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GOP House leaders offer
plan to keep Medicare

--. s,,,, -,-, - a 7

Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON - House Republi-
can leaders offered a blueprint yester-
day for keeping Medicare solvent by
steadily increasing out-of-pocket costs
for beneficiaries and setting severe new
limits on government payments to doc-
tors and hospitals.
The most affluent elderly - indi-
viduals with incomes ofatleast $75,000
and couples with more than $150,000
would be forced to bear a hefty
increase in their monthly premiums.
For the rest, the typical Medicare re-
cipient would pay about $90 a month by
2002 for the insurance that covers doc-
tors' bills, compared with $46.10 now.
In an attempt to avoid antagonizing
elderly voters, Republicans went else-
where for the bulk of the total savings
- $270 billion over the next seven
years - to rescue Medicare and help
balance the federal budget.
They said they expected substantial
savings as millions of persons moved
into health maintenance organizations
and other forms of managed care.
But they proposed no direct incen-
tives or pressures on recipients to switch
from visiting the doctors of their choice
to enrolling in health plans that would
limit their choice. Contrary to expecta-
tions, they did not propose to add to the
elderly's share of payments to doctors.
The biggest share of savings would
come from a strict system of annual,
government-set ceilings on Medicare
payments to hospitals, doctors, home
health care agencies and laboratories. If
spending exceeded the goal in any year,
the government would cut payments to
health care providers in the following
year.
The2I-page Republi'can information
packet, sketchy on details, offered no
specific numbers on how the $270 bil-
lion in savings will be achieved.
House and Senate committees will
begin meeting next week to add the
additional details necessary to turn the
leadership blueprint into legislation.
The Republican leaders said their
plan offered avastnew world of choices
for those enrolled in Medicare - per-
sons over 65 and the disabled of all
ages. Each year, beneficiaries would
receive a booklet listing government-
approved health plans in the local area.
. "Beneficiaries will simply check off
the plan of their choice," the Republi-

'U' professor to address seniors'
concerns at Medicare forum today

By Michelle Lee Thompso
Daily Staff Reporter
Spurned by Republicans' pro-
posed cuts to Medicare, a University
professor will address the concerns
of the Ann Arbor Citizens Council
today at 4 p.m. today at the School of
Public Health.
Prof. Richard Lichtenstein will
speak at a forum called, "Medicare:
Where Do We Go From Here?">
"The main focus of the conference
is to figure out what is proposed for
Medicare in the Republican proposal,"
Lichtenstein said, adding that he hopes
to critically address Washington law-
makers' solutions.:
"(The proposed reform) could have
terrible effects on seniors,"
Lichtenstein said. "There are several
cans said. The options: remaining in
traditional fee-for-service medicine,
switching to HMOs and other networks
of doctors and hospitals, and establish-
ing medical savings accounts that would
combine insurance covering cata-
strophic health care costs with a tax-
sheltered savings account that could be
used to meet medical expenses.
The HMOs would be attractive if
they offered benefits, such as prescrip-
tion drugs, preventive care, eyeglasses
and hearing aids, that Medicare doesn't
cover. Currently, 9 percent of all Medi-
care enrollees are in HMOs; GOP plan-
ners hope the figure will rise to 40
percent or more.
President Clinton and congressional
Democrats had charged that Republi-
cans would force the elderly into HMOs
by making it costly to stay in the current
Medicare system.
To defuse this charge, the Republi-
can plan promised to leave unchanged
the current deductible, with beneficia-
ries paying the first $100 in doctor bills
each year, and the co-payment, which
calls for patients to pay 20 percent of
authorized charges.
Instead, the GOP target for financial
stress became health care providers,
with the government assuming a sub-

pressing problems. The Republicans,
have to cut $270 billion from now to
2002 to balance the budget and give a,
large tax cut to the wealthy."
The program also will include a
discussion led by Rep. Lynn Rivers
(D-Ann Arbor) and a written state-
ment from Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-
Mich.)
AACC member and retired Univer-
sity Prof. Daniel Fusfeld organized
today's conference. "We scheduled it
so that people will get some informa-
tion in timeto write to their represen-
tatives," he said.<
Although Fusfeld said he will en-
courage people to lobby their law-
makers, it is not the focus of the forum.
"Mostly, it's an information and ques-
tion-and-answer program."
stantial regulatory role over the costs of
hospitals, physicians, home health care
and medical laboratories. The Republi-
cans call this system a "fail-safe" in
case the expected savings from man-
aged care did not materialize.
The GOPpacket saidthebill, calledthe
Medicare Preservation Act of 1995, would
"preserve the system for current benefi-
ciaries, protect it for future beneficiaries,
and strengthen it through reforms that
have worked in the private sector."
Democrats saw it differently. Sen.
Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) said
the Republican approach was "illogical
and unfair" and would in effect "move
Medicare off the federal budget onto
the family budget."
President Clinton said it was "mor-
ally questionable ... to propose vast
Medicare cuts" and raise Medicare pre-
miums on the elderly to pay for tax cuts.
Clinton's own Medicare proposals
would let the monthly fee for insurance
covering doctors' bills to rise to about
$83 in 2002, about $7 less than the new
Republican proposal. Clinton and other
Democrats say only $100 billion in
savings are needed to assure several
additional years of solvency for the
Medicare hospital trust fund, which is
headed for bankruptcy in 2002.

AP PHOTO
FBI sharpshooters are sworn in yesterday prior to testifying before a Senate
Judiciary subcommittee during hearings on a 1992 raid of Randy Weaver's cabin.
ier t saet
Ruby Rde sig

GOP tax
bill would
hit poor,
businesses
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON - Taking another
politically perilous step in their march
toward a balanced budget, House Re-
publicans have decided to push for pas-
sage of significant tax increases that
would hit both moneyed business inter-
ests and low-income working families.
The tax hike bill, drafted by Ways
and Means Committee Chairman Bill
Archer (R-Texas) would raise some $30
billion over seven years by eliminating
tax breaks for an array of corporate
interests - including the movie indus-
try, pharmaceutical manufacturers and
insurance companies.
In addition, it would generate $20
billion over the same period by impos-
ing new restrictions on the Earned In-
come Tax Credit, which was designed
to pull working families out of poverty.
The proposed increases, ifapproved,
would be linked to a $245 billion-pack-
age of tax reductions that are consid-
ered the centerpiece of GOP tax policy.
Those, in turn, would become part of a
far-reaching package of deficit-reduc-
tion measures expected to move through
Congress this fall.
Likely cries of protest from movie
moguls, insurance agents and others
who stand to lose substantial tax ad-
vantages under Archer's legislation
could add to the difficulty of passing
the GOP budget package, which al-
ready contains politically explosive
proposals to curb the growth of Medi-
care, cut farm subsidies and slash
spending across a broad range of fed-
eral programs.
The Center on Budget and Policy
Priorities, a Washington-basedresearch
group, noted that the $30 billion reduc-
tion in business tax subsidies would
pale in comparison to the business tax
breaks that would remain on the books
and the new ones that Republicans have
included in their $245 billion tax relief
package.
Indeed, some of the proceeds from
cutting business tax breaks, derided by
some critics as "corporate welfare,"
would go back to other businesses. The
Archer bill would extend several tax
breaks that are about to expire, includ-
ing one for research and development
expenditures that is important to many
businesses.

Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON-FBI snipers yes-
terday defended their actions at the 1992
Ruby Ridge siege where a white
separatist's wife was killed, contend-
ing that danger to an FBI observation
helicopter from armed men outside the
separatist's cabinjustified opening fire.
But skeptical senators questioned
whether permissive shoot-to-kill orders
and exaggerated information about the
threat of Randy Weaver led to an over-
reaction.
Dale R. Monroe, the partner of FBI
hostage rescue team leader Lon
Horiuchi - who fired the fatal shot -
said he was preparing to fire but didn't
only because Horiuchi fired first.
Horiuchi invoked his Fifth Amend-
ment protection against self-incrimina-
tion Tuesday after the Senate Judiciary
subcommittee on terrorism refused to
give him limited immunity from pros-
ecution.
"We don't have Mr. Horiuchi here,"
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), subcom-
mittee chairman, pointed out to under-
score the importance of the snipers'
testimony. "You are as close as we
have."
The Senate panel is trying to deter-

mine what took place at Ruby Ridge on
Aug. 21-22, 1992, when deputy U.S.
marshals seeking to arrest Weaver for
failing to appear on illegal gun sale
charges led to a confrontation in which
deputy marshal William E. Degan and
Weaver's 14-year-old son, Sammy,
were killed.
The FBI's hostage rescue team then
was called in, and Weaver's wife, Vicki,
standing behind a cabin door, was killed
by a shot that Horiuchi has testified
previously that he fired at one of the
men running to the cabin.
To some government critics, Ruby
Ridge has become a symbol of law
enforcement excesses.
But Monroe seemed to speak for his
colleagues when he opened his testi-
mony challenging the label of "trained
killers" given to the team last week by
Randy Weaver's lawyer Gerry Spence.
"We are trained to save lives," Monroe
said, noting that Congress commended
the unit for its rescue of hostages with-
out firing a shot at the 1991 Talladega,
Ala., federal prison riot.
"The trained killer accusation is un-
fair to all dedicated agents and to the
widow of U.S. Marshal William
Degan," Monroe said.

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