Viewpoints: David Brooks' 'Brutal Truth;' What To Ask The Candidates At Their First Debate; Putting Medicare On A Budget

The New York Times: The Opening Statement
The third big problem is Medicare and rising health care costs, which are bankrupting this country. Let me tell you the brutal truth. Nobody knows how to reduce health care inflation. There are two basic approaches, and we probably have to try both simultaneously. The first, included in Obamacare, is to have an Independent Payment Advisory Board find efficiencies and impose price controls. The problem is that that leaves the painful cost-cutting decisions in Washington, where Congress rules. … The second approach, favored by me, is to scrap the perverse fee-for-service incentives and use a more market-based approach. … I'm willing to pursue any experiment, from any political direction, that lowers costs and saves Medicare (David Brooks, 10/1). 

Medpage Today: What I'd Ask Obama And Romney
If I were the moderator of Wednesday night's first presidential debate -- scheduled to be devoted to domestic issues including health care -- the single question I would most want to ask of both candidates is this one: How is it possible that the U.S., which is the richest country in the world, is the only developed country on this planet that has not figured out how to provide basic health insurance to all its citizens? It certainly is NOT because we don't spend enough money on healthcare (Dr. Timothy Johnson, 10/1).

The New York Times: Mr. Romney's Government Handout
The biggest beneficiaries of government largess are not those who struggle along on Social Security payments, Medicare or Medicaid benefits, or earned-income tax credits, despite what Mitt Romney has told his donors. Rather, they are those at the highest end of the income scale: government contractors, corporate farmers and very rich individuals who have figured out how to exploit the country's poorly written tax code for their benefit (10/1). 

The Washington Post: Paul Ryan's Budget Flimflam
The Republican ticket says it could pay for its tax cut by eliminating loopholes. But the biggest loopholes are popular: the exclusion from taxation of employer-sponsored health insurance and the deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions and state and local taxes. Pressed by the assiduous Mr. Wallace about which of these Mr. Ryan would limit, the nominee pleaded a lack of time. "It would take me too long to go through all of that," he said (10/1). 

The Hill: Medicare's Status Quo: No We Can't
Politicians have promised Medicare benefits worth $37 trillion over the next 75 years. But that huge amount of benefits isn't paid for, and so those promises will not be kept. That is why Republicans and Democrats agree -- albeit usually in private -- that a major reform of this health care program for the elderly is necessary. And on one narrow point, there is bipartisan consensus: Medicare must be put on a budget (Robert E. Moffit, 10/1).

Bloomberg: The Flaws That Will Bring Down Obama's Health Care Plan
Obama's plan makes tax credits available to people who get health insurance from exchanges set up by state governments. If states don't establish those exchanges, the federal government will do so for them. The federal exchanges, however, don't come with tax credits: The law authorizes credits only for people who get insurance from state-established exchanges. And that creates some problems the administration didn't foresee, and now hopes to wish away (Ramesh Ponnuru, 10/1).

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