RUSH: This is from the Florida Sun-Sentinel, Ft. Lauderdale. ‘Medicare Admits Overpaying for Common Items like Wheelchairs.’ Here’s the story: ‘Medicare pays $800 to rent a wheelchair that retails for $350.’ You can buy one for $350, Medicare rents it for $8,000. ‘Medicare spent $188 million on manual wheelchairs in 2009; officials can’t say how much of that involved overpayments.’ Who’s responsible for this is Congress. Now, this story is a classic illustration of what happens when the government gets in the way of the free market. Great example of how out of whack the whole Medicare process is and how the people in government have frigged it up just like they’re about to screw up all of health care.
‘Alan Siegel of Fort Lauderdale discovered the overspending recently when he needed to replace a wheelchair for his wife. He wanted to buy one since she suffers from a form of muscular dystrophy and requires permanent use of a wheelchair. But Medicare only covers the cost to rent one for up to 13 months. At that point, the chair belongs to the patient. Two months into Siegel’s rental, he learned just how much Medicare was paying. The total cost over the course of the rental would top $800. ‘I checked further and found the chair being rented cost less than $350. . .I had the supplier stop the rental and I purchased the chair,’ Siegel said. ‘It is ridiculous for Medicare to spend so much more for a rental in situations when a cheaper purchase makes so much more sense.”’ It is ridiculous, and this is, I’m sure, one of a thousand million examples throughout government, not just wheelchairs, but everything else practically.
‘An Internet search shows those prices are at least twice the retail cost and in some cases much more. A lightweight wheelchair similar to the one Siegel bought is available for as little as $99 — eight times less than Medicare’s rate. … For more than 20 years, Medicare has used a fee schedule set by Congress to determine reimbursement rates for wheelchairs and other medical equipment. The fees are based on the average amount that equipment suppliers charged Medicare — in 1986.’ See, folks, if you just paid for it yourself — this guy, Larry, paid for it himself. ‘Easy for you to say, Limbaugh.’ I know. I’m sorry. Forgive me. I know it makes me the bad guy.
There was a story in the Washington Post on Friday. I don’t think too many people saw this because on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, what are you doing? You’re sleeping, you’re shopping, cyber shopping, you’re watching football, you’re whatever you’re doing but the last thing you’re doing is probably reading the Washington Post. Well, get this. ‘Doctors Say Medicare Cuts Force Painful Decision About Elderly Patients.’ I read this story and I was in stunned disbelief. Well, I wasn’t ’cause it didn’t surprise me, but I was in stunned disbelief nevertheless that it’s happening. ‘Want an appointment with kidney specialist Adam Weinstein of Easton, Md.? If you’re a senior covered by Medicare, the wait is eight weeks.’ It’s no longer the UK and Canada that are the horror stories. They are happening here now. Eight weeks for a seasoned citizen to get an appointment with a kidney specialist. In some cases you don’t have eight weeks, depending on how bad your kidney is in.
‘How about a checkup from geriatric specialist Michael Trahos? Expect to see him every six months: The Alexandria-based doctor has been limiting most of his Medicare patients to twice yearly rather than the quarterly checkups he considers ideal for the elderly. Still, at least he’ll see you. Top-ranked primary care doctor Linda Yau is one of three physicians with the District’s Foxhall Internists group who recently announced they will no longer be accepting Medicare patients. ‘It’s not easy. But you realize you either do this or you don’t stay in business,’ she said.
Doctors across the country describe similar decisions, complaining that they’ve been forced to shift away from Medicare toward higher-paying, privately insured or self-paying patients in response to years of penny-pinching by Congress. And that’s not even taking into account a long-postponed rate-setting method that is on track to slash Medicare’s payment rates to doctors by 23 percent Dec. 1.’ Maybe they need to be looking into that $188 million spent on just wheelchairs last year, of which two third is an overpayment.
So what’s happening? Very simply Medicare doctors are opting out. They can’t stay in business on what the government’s paying them, and they are cutting the number of times per year they will even see a patient, even emergency cases now, like a kidney problem, you can be in line eight weeks. It’s not just the UK. You want to know the sad truth? All this is by design. Once this actually begins to happen to a large number of seasoned citizens — now, remember, I saw a story, we got a call coming up about this. Alan Simpson said that the older generation is a bunch of selfish people, called it the selfishness generation. The seasoned citizens are expecting all this medical care for nothing. Well, regardless whether they’re that or not, when en masse they start saying, ‘The doctor won’t see me and my mother died because…’ guess who we’ll see on TV with a big smile on his face? Obama. (imitating Obama) ‘Well, see we’re gonna have to set up the public option, single payer, only way we can deal with this.’
RUSH: Now, this Washington Post story that I just referenced from last Friday on how Medicare doctors are opting out because they’re not being paid enough. They’re going to treat patients that pay themselves or high-insurance patients. Not once in this story will you read the word ‘Obamacare.’ Not once will you see the name ‘Obama.’ Not once will you hear ‘national health care’ referenced at all. This is just happening. You know, it’s just this happening out there. There’s no explanation as to why, and the reason for this is quite simple. These seasoned citizens, when the doctors won’t see ’em, are gonna start clamoring for something, and Obama’s gonna be right there.
‘See? These doctors are mean. We told you from the get-go. The doctors are in for it themselves! The doctors don’t care and the hospitals don’t care, but I do, and that’s why we’re gonna make sure that the government doesn’t let you down. The government will handle your health care.’ But the problem is that the public option is just Medicare for everybody (laughs), so the same problems exist. So pretty soon the doctor is not gonna see any of us but twice a year unless you can pay for it yourself. Pretty soon the doctor is not gonna see any of us, depending on the ailment, but twice a year or once every eight weeks, because the public option is Medicare for everybody.
So Obama’s solution for the Medicare problem is more Medicare. Let’s have more of it, pure and simple. That’ll be his solution for everything. ‘Such temporary reprieves have increased the potential pain down the road, compounding not only the eventual cut but the cost of doing away with it for good, now estimated in the tens of billions. … ‘Physicians are having to make really gut-wrenching decisions about whether they can afford to see as many Medicare patients,’ said Cecil Wilson, president of the American Medical Association.’ Oh yes, it’s very tough out there. Very, very tough. Here’s another guy, Robert Berenson, a Commissioner of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission: ‘The argument that doctors literally can’t afford to feed their kids (if they take Medicare’s rates) is absurd.
‘It’s just that doctors have gotten used to a certain income and lifestyle.’ All right, fine. Let’s dump on the doctors here, but then let’s ask a question: Why is it axiomatic that doctors ought to not get paid for what they do? Because it’s health care and we all have a right to it? Why? At some point then Obama’s gonna say that none of us should get paid for what we do. First the doctors, then everybody else — and if you’re on Medicare, it’s illegal to pay any extra money. And if you’re a Medicare doctor, you can’t take private paying patients. They’ve gotta opt out. All this is sadly, my friends, by design.
Here’s Kevin in Missoula, Montana. Nice to have you on the Rush Limbaugh program. Hi.
CALLER: Thank you. It’s an honor to speak with you.
RUSH: Thank you, sir.
CALLER: I wanted to comment on that Alan Simpson statement, and I’m a little nervous here.
RUSH: What was it he actually said? I don’t have the exact statement in front of me.
CALLER: Well, I think you pretty much quoted it as it, and my comment on that is that Alan Simpson being a former Senator of many years, I always drew the conclusion that he himself was part of the selfish elected government people who probably went out and told all his constituents that he was going to keep all benefits for future generations. And now, as he is on the government deficit reduction committee, he is an almighty man who now says everybody else is the problem.
RUSH: You hear what else Alan Simpson said? He said, ‘You can’t listen to people on talk radio like Rush babe. I mean, they couldn’t get elected if their lives depended on it. They couldn’t govern their way out of a paper sack,’ is what Alan Simpson said about me.
CALLER: Well, you know —
RUSH: Rush babe.
CALLER: How I view people like Alan Simpson when he makes a statement that the senior citizens are the selfish ones, is I say that he’s the selfish one, because he’s the one who was not proactive when he was in the Senate. We all knew this day of reckoning was coming. Everybody knew it. Here it is today. Alan Simpson is one of the blue-blood, country club, Khrushchev Republicans that have helped get us into this point where we are today.
RUSH: Well, I can understand that argument you’re making. A lot of people would agree with you on that. I wish I could remember his exact quote, but it was something along the lines of they’re not the greatest generation, they’re the most selfish generation. But it wasn’t… (interruption) Greediest! It was ‘the greediest generation,’ that’s what he said. He called them ‘the greediest generation,’ and old Kevin here was gonna ask me what I thought about that. I have deftly moved on, if you’ve noticed. (laughing) What do I think about his claim about the greediest generation? I don’t think that there is a greediest generation in the way that Alan Simpson Babe means it. But if you’ve been listening carefully the last month, you know that I think that we have way too many people who think that they are entitled to stuff just because they’re Americans.
And I don’t think it’s generational. He’s talking about the Greatest Generation, the World War II bunch, and I know the argument about the World War II bunch is: ‘Yeah, they saved the nation. They were a great bunch of self-reliant people and something happened to ’em. After the World War II when they saved us, they became called the Greatest Generation, they said, ‘Okay, pay us.” This is the argument made about ’em, that they’re the ones demanding freebies here, freebies there, Social Security, Medicare, all this kind of stuff. They want this and they vote for it and all that. That’s an argument made about them. Not by me. But I do think, as you know, we’ve got a rising problem in the country of expectation on the part of way too many citizens.
I don’t care what generation they’re from. I don’t know if they’re ‘greedy.’ They expect everything to be bought and paid for by someone else, like these students running around. If college costs too much then you don’t go. That’s the way it used to be. If the car you wanted to buy costs more than you could afford, you bought a different kind. If you can’t go to a major university — that’s no big problem, by the way; it’s probably not that harmful — go find a junior college. There’s nothing that says you can’t get educated if you don’t to some so-called highfalutin university. You can get educated in all kinds of ways. But the idea that…
In one way, as far as these little crumb crunchers are concerned, they’ve been told from the moment they’ve been able to understand English that education is the single most important thing. They’ve heard their parents talk about it, politicians talk about it. ‘It’s the only thing that matters! If you don’t get an education, you’re a dimwit failure. You have no chance,’ and so they’ve been scared into believing that that’s true, and then when they come to the realization they can’t pay for it, then they panic and want somebody else to pay for it: The very people telling them how important it is. They say, ‘Well, then you pay for it for us if we can’t because you’re the one telling us we can’t get anywhere without it.’
So in a way these people that have been building up education as an end-all to every problem sorta have themselves to blame in part with all these people demanding one. It’s no different than if everybody in your life had been telling you that the way out of misery is to learn how to fix a car, then that’s what you’d want to do. So, I don’t know. It’s a tough call out there, Snerdley, on this ‘greediest generation’ business. And you had a president, you had LBJ, promise being people stuff: The Great Society, the War on Poverty, Medicare, Medicaid, student aid, student loans. This stuff has been promised to these people. A retirement has been promised to people by the Democrat Party.
The Democrat Party and the American left have been promising people a panacea, a utopia. Then when these same people pull it away from them, they’re going to say, ‘I want it! I want it! You give it to me. You told me it was mine (crying),’ and they start rioting. They blow up bank buildings and throw rocks through trees and whatever else they do, and they irritate self-reliant people like me. (interruption) Well, I know. I know. This is what Alan Simpson Babe is forgetting, that the seasoned citizens paid into this. They’ve paid their FICA. They’ve had their Social Security payments. They think they’ve been paying for their Medicare.
They bought all of it. They bought that this was a retirement plan. They bought it. People like me, the self-reliant, have never believed that somebody else other than me is gonna pay for my retirement. (laughing) I’m sorry if it makes me a bad guy, but I’ve never believed it. (laughing) It’s like when I watched that TV show The Millionaire. I never thought that guy Michael whatever-his-name-is was gonna knock on my door someday. I knew it was never gonna happen, and that if somebody did knock on my door and offer me a million bucks the stuff I was gonna have to do for it was stuff I would never do. It just doesn’t happen. But a lot of people, from the time they were young, have been told it does happen. It will be their life. It will be their reality. So…