Volume , Number 0
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Vets for Peace
Lt. ehren Watada
Sharat g. Lin
Dorothy Ray Healey, Activist
Beyond Same-Sex Marriage
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Medicare $ Is Not Running Out
O n May 2 headlines proclaimed that Medicare would run out of money by 2018. “US Medicare fund 12 years from running out,” was CNN’s headline. “Finances of Social Security and Medicare deteriorate” announced the New York Times . “Medicare’s fiscal health is declining” said the frontpage headline in the Minneapolis Star Tribune . According to the media, Medicare is going bankrupt.
The source for these stories was the annual report of Medicare’s trustees. But the trustees did not say Medicare would run out of funds, they said Part A of Medi care, which finances hospital services, would run out of funds. Part A accounts for only 47 percent of total Medicare revenues. Parts B and D, which absorb the other 53 percent of Medicare revenues, are doing just fine. Part B finances physician services and tests. Part D finances drug coverage.
Why is Part A “running out of money” while Parts B and D are not? Because Part A is financed with payroll taxes that all workers pay, while Parts B and D are financed primarily by “general funds,” i.e., by federal taxes like the income tax. Part B is financed about 75 percent by general funds and 25 percent by Part B premiums that are deducted from the Social Security checks of the seniors who sign up for Part B. Part D is financed about 80 percent by general revenues and the remainder by Part D premiums and a tax on Social Security benefits.
Parts B and D, in other words, are financed similarly to the way
the Pentagon is—with general revenues. Does anyone predict
two decades in advance that the Pentagon will be broke in year x?
Of course not. No one ever predicts the bankruptcy of Parts B or
D in year x. “Crisis” and “bankruptcy” are predicted
only for Part A because the payroll taxes that flow into the Part
A trust fund finance only a particular program, in this case, Part
Assuming that Congress does not intend to stop overpaying the Medicare HMOs (a fact documented repeatedly by the U.S. Government Accountability Office over the last 15 years) and take other steps to make Medicare more efficient, the solution is either to raise the Part A payroll tax or, better yet, shift the funding of Part A from payroll taxes to general revenues. Shifting Part A funding from the payroll tax would not only end the phony Medicare crisis, it would make Medicare Part A financing fairer. The payroll tax is a regressive tax, as it takes a greater portion from lowerincome than upperincome Americans.
Proponents of the “sky is falling” theory will oppose shifting the financing of Medicare Part A to general revenues as that would deprive them of the basis for their incessant squawking about the alleged “crisis” in Medicare.
Kip Sullivan is on the Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition and author of The Health Care Mess (AuthorHouse).
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.