Later Well, it looks like nobody will engage on the subject of cuts in coverage provided by medicare I proposed, except for Life, who implied he was opposed to them, so I'll just make a few observations and move on. First of all, I agree with those who say the timing of this health reform effort was bad: the country is in crisis. We are engaged in two theaters of war; the economy is stagnant, despite being under massive stimulation, and there is a lack of national resolve to solve the underlying debt crisis. As Life suggested, there should be a national sales tax, imposed at the retail level, with no items sold at retail of any kind exempted. (Exempting anything amounts to a government subsidy, and a give away of taxpayer money, to whatever industry we're talking about.) A national sales tax with no exemptions of any kind would guarantee that everyone participates in paying taxes to the national government, a principle of fairness which has been alluded to by Zackman, and others, on this thread, when complaining of those who pay no income taxes at all to the national government (states have sales taxes, so this is not an issue, at the state level). That brings me to another point, many programs operated by the government are not, in fact, government programs when you look more closely at how they operate; instead, they are government payment systems which transfer taxes collected by the government to private hands. Take Medicare, for example. It is extremely expensive, and it is so primarily because it is not a government health care provision system at all; instead, it is a payment system. There are no Medicare Hospitals, nor Medicare Clinics that you can go to, no Medicare Doctors that you can consult. The result is a much more costly Medicare than would otherwise exist. We can forgo having government provided medical care as we've done, on a matter of principle- except for Veterans' Hospitals, Military Hospitals, and Bureau of Indian Affairs Hospitals- but we will continue to pay more for it. Some people may have found it distasteful to consider cuts in Medicare coverage that would necessarily result in some not receiving the care that would prolong their lives, as few insurance companies would be willing to step up to the plate with the same coverage on an aging and sick population; but, to go even further, and eliminate Medicare altogether would result in many more not receiving care, and to preserve Medicare for the benefit of those who live long enough to reach benefit age, some significant adjustments to coverage will be necessary, if it is to continue to be funded by the taxpayers. In the private provision of medical services, ordinary principles of competition- keeping prices down- just don't function as they do in other areas, and this has been true since just after WWII, when insurance companies began taking an interest in health insurance as a possible major market. First of all, they operated to make the consumer less concerned about the price of medical services, so long as they had affordable insurance, just as twinimini suggested. But, I think it goes beyond that. When was the last time you saw full page ads from hospitals in your newspapers, advertising their prices, and suggesting that, if you are treated there, high quality services would be provided, but at lower prices than their competitors? I can honestly say that, in my adult lifetime, I've never seen such ads. (Some specialty operations will advertise prices: they are the exception, it seems to me, with most doctors and hospitals not competing, openly, on prices.) I believe the main reason for that is the injection of the insurance industry into the provision of medical care: what doctors, hospitals, and other medical care providers "charge" has become somewhat irrelevant, what matters is what the insurance companies' reimbursements will be. ______________________ I'm largely disappointed in people who call themselves conservatives, anymore. The country is in financial crisis. Sacrifice will be required to deal with it, just as has occurred in Colorado Springs, but rather than sit down and talk about cuts they would be willing to accept in government benefits they, or their family members, might receive now, or in the future, they remain largely silent, unless it's to complain about having to pay taxes- having one hand out to the government, the other clinched tightly around their money. I fear a patriot has come to be defined as one who whines about paying taxes, but when the subject of eliminating any government benefits they may be in line for comes up, goes out and attends a tea party, instead.