Medicine

Like Taking Air From Fogies

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The Bush administration has suggested to Congress that it cut Medicare home oxygen reimbursements by $6.8 billion over 10 years to help fund the annual Farm Bill, according to a Department of Agriculture letter sent to lawmakers March 2.

Right now, wheezers are entitled to 36 months of O2 after getting out of the hospital. The letter suggests trimming that to 13 months.

This is bound to be a real publicity coup for Bush and for the farm lobby–something that House Agricultural Committee Chair Collin Peterson (D-MN) noted in his speech to the farm lobby in Las Vegas on Monday:

When it comes to the oxygen cuts, he suggested the idea was not politically astute, according to a recording of his speech posted at www.agri-pulse.com.

"Some of our critics would probably have a field day if we are taking payments away from people on oxygen and they would say we are giving it to wealthy farmers, probably," Peterson said.

The quotes (and links) above are from InsideHealthPolicy.com, behind the subscription wall. You can see another writeup here.

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  1. Why can’t we cut both?

  2. It must be hard keeping track of, and ranking, all the people you need to buy off.

  3. Sounds like a very unpleasant and inappropriate method for dealing with our Social Security problem.

  4. Cartoonish villainy.

    This is like something Snidely Whiplash would come up with.

  5. What an unenviable position, having to decide between helping people breathe or ensuring that as a country, we grow way too much corn.

  6. For serious? This is for real?

  7. “Some of our critics would probably have a field day if we are taking payments away from people on oxygen and they would say we are giving it to wealthy farmers, probably,” Peterson said.

    Ya think?

  8. They’re just going to convert that O2 into that pollutant, CO2, anyway.

    How do I do subscribt the html way?

  9. Is Emperor Palpatine running the budget office or something?

  10. The spokesman for planet Druidia, No. 1 supplier of Oxygen in a can, had no comment.

  11. You know… If the Bush Administration’s last year is nothing more than well-publicized letters to Congress suggesting cuts in programs with broad and sympathetic support in order to pay for corporate welfare, it’ll provide at least one positive element in its legacy.

  12. Well, this isn’t really what I meant when I said, “Let’s take away some of the benefits we give old people!”

  13. “ok, ok, so we can’t steal oxygen from the elderly…what about if we finally tell the public about the cheap, easy and plentiful fuel available from burning puppies?”

  14. This is short-sighted. People who inhale O2 inevitably exhale CO2 for plants. How can the farmers grow crops without that CO2?

    While I’m not a fan of Medicare, I’d have to say that given a choice between oxygen for Medicare and keeping the farm bill I’d drop the farm bill.

    And I see I was beaten to the punch on the Spaceballs jokes. This thread is going from suck to blow.

  15. We’re not doing it for money…we’re doing it for a shitload of money!

  16. Farm Bill 2: The quest for more money

  17. You know who they’ll have to send to confiscate those oxygen tanks?

    An Asshole. Major Asshole, First Class.

  18. This won’t even save any money. This will COST money.

    All that will happen is that GP’s will manufacture reasons for old people to make a hospital visit every 13 months to make sure they can continue to get oxygen.

    So this is really just an accounting trick, to use the cost savings estimate from the oxygen to justify the farm support expense, even though no savings will actually be realized and spending on hospitalization will probably rise as a result of the change.

  19. At times like this I wonder if equal representation in the Senate was such a good idea after all since it gives such disproportionate power to the big farm states.

  20. Really?! I mean you don’t have to be all that politically astute to realize that you should hold one press conference announcing that you are regretfully cutting Medicare spending, and then wait a week or so before holding another press conference where you pose with a photogenic farm family. What kind of idiot puts the two together in the same memo?

  21. Let’s see…cut Medicare home oxygen reimbursements by $6.8 billion over 10 years to help fund a $288 billion, five-year farm subsidy filled with waste, fraud and generally bad ideas that – among other things – perpetuate our aid payments to countries throughout the world that would really rather grow and sell us food themselves.

    That’s going to go over well.

  22. Err, I got that a little wrong. You actually want to quietly cut the Medicare benefits. Only if called out on it do you spin it as fighting tax increases.

  23. Maybe some of the Daily Show staff were making some dough by writing memos for the administration during the strike. Perhaps more of these memos were trickle out over the next few months.

  24. were, will – whyever!

  25. You see that evil will always triumph, because good is dumb.

  26. Let the old farts breathe nitrogen. It’s so much cheaper and it’s like one proton less, so it should be easier for them to digest. What’s the fucking problem?

  27. But think of the Social Security savings!

  28. Look at what they are doing now–and imagine government-run healthcare.

    Need that surgery? Too bad! Tom Harkin has to get his corn first.

  29. Look at what they are doing now–and imagine government-run healthcare.

    What, you mean making people who propose cuts for necessary treatments look like monsters?

  30. I mean farm-state Senators using their committee chairmanships to under-ration healthcare while reaping a whirlwind of their favorite subsidy.

  31. Yup, that’ll happen.

    Look at the responses on this thread, Cesar. Then move it the appropriate number of steps to the left, to approximate American political culture.

  32. Yeah joe, the Ameircan people get real outraged about corporate welfare. Thats why we don’t have corn subsidies anymore.

  33. I’m still hoping this is the administration throwing a wrench into the Farm Bill. Bush wasn’t too enamored with the Farm Bill when it was being debated, but he of course wussed out of any attempt to use political capital to limit it.

  34. Hummm, which will have more pull on this one, the farm lobby or the AARP lobby?

    But the Onion headline should say, Bush to leave senior citizens breathless.

  35. Guys, guys, guys. All the problems we see with government-run Medicare WILL NOT APPLY to a government-run healthcare system which covers the country as a whole.

  36. Stop your bickering! Don’t you realize that Gary Gygax is deader than if a basilisk had stared him down? Have some respect!

  37. Stop your bickering! Don’t you realize that Gary Gygax is deader than if a basilisk had stared him down? Have some respect!

    Especially respect for the government, which may have screwed up all the other bureaucracies it runs but WILL NOT screw up healthcare. The only reason bureaucrats are currently talking about denying oxygen to old people is because we have the wrong guys in charge. But once the government gets just a little bit more authority it will put the right guys in charge and we’ll all be happy and healthy and free.

    Sing along with me: “And you and me are free to be you and meeeeeeee. . .”

  38. Jennifer come on! Don’t you remember all that outrage over the fact that the Social Security fund was raided? Oh yeah, I remember now…it didn’t happen and the system is up to its eyeballs in debt.

  39. Jennifer come on! Don’t you remember all that outrage over the fact that the Social Security fund was raided? Oh yeah, I remember now…it didn’t happen and the system is up to its eyeballs in debt.

    Yes, but all of that will change as soon as we get government-run healthcare. Just ask Joe if you don’t believe me.

  40. I hope that this a supergenious planning move by someone out there in the administration who wants to kill farm subsidies and made this plot up so that everyone is pissed off at the huge farm lobby and does something against it. That would be so wonderful.

    Down with Big Farm!

  41. Jennifer:

    When men on the chessboard,
    Get up and tell you where to go.
    And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom,
    And your mind is moving low.
    Go ask joe,
    I think he’ll know.

  42. I hope that this a supergenious planning move by someone out there in the administration

    Wile E. Coyote now a government employee.

  43. Jezus. Those farmers must be like the fuckin’ Mafia or something.

  44. Dey tuk ur’ jebs!
    Yeah, well, they’ll work for less.
    Took ur’ jebs!
    Are you retarded?

  45. Those farmers must be like the fuckin’ Mafia or something.

    Nah, the Mafia always shoots you in the back of the head. No witnesses. Farmers are right there in Indiana and Iowa, throwing lobbying money around. You can even say hi to them from the road.
    Greed is good! Especially when you can get the government to relieve your jones!

  46. Wile E. Coyote now a government employee.

    Well, we did elect him, sort of.

  47. Jennifer’s right. The Department of Rationing/Delaying/Denying Health Care will only be hiring the best, most caring, bureaucrats.

  48. Jennifer’s right. The Department of Rationing/Delaying/Denying Health Care will only be hiring the best, most caring, bureaucrats.

    For instance, when you’re turned away for your disbursement of insulin, they’ll give you a lollipop.

  49. DUE TO UNFORSEEN OVERRUNS, LOLIPOP FUNDING IS TO BE ELIMINATED.

  50. Farmers are right there in Indiana and Iowa, throwing lobbying money around.

    I believe you’re thinking of Manhattan.

  51. This is like something Snidely Whiplash would come up with.

    Opponents breathlessly warn of dire health consequences…

  52. Not really on topic:

    There is going to be a motion picture about ADM’s price fixing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Informant_(2009_film)

    Different concept for a movie that might get people thinking about this obscure company that probably everyone buys food from.

    Of course legal price fixing under the authority of the federal government happens every day in the agriculture industry. The dairy industry boarders on communism. http://www.keepmilkpriceslow.org/news/news3282006.htm

    At least the US doesn’t have anything like the Canadian Wheat Board.

    ADM and Cargill freight cars: http://www.atlasrr.com/HOFreight/hotrinity.htm

  53. See this classic libertarian stuff. Not only do we let them starve in the street. We take their O2 and leave them gasping for breath AND eating Purina.

  54. Remind me sometime to tell you about the docs at Long Beach Naval Hospital who told my buddy Ray Farmer that he just needed to take some Metamucil when he really had Pancreatic Cancer.

    Great guys.

    Strange thing how cancer changes you voice so your friends can’t recognize you on the phone.

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