Yale University

Sound Off !

What is that Red-White-and-Blue Card Doing in All of Our Wallets?

John Wylie

January 3, 2014

Category: Health > Aging and Self-Care

First story

In 1993, I saw a very wealthy patient (just over 65) whom I had seen before. At the end of the treatment session, I made a brief comment about my fee. How well I remember the relish in his voice when he said, “You don’t read the newspapers do you, Dr. Wylie? From now on the Congress of the United States will determine your fees.” In fact, at the end of each year, Congress routinely leaves the issue of our fees until the last minute, when they heroically address it. 

Second story

In the mid-80s at a Washington, D.C. medical-society meeting, we invited Representative Henry Waxman to give a talk and take questions. I asked him, “Why not means-test Medicare?” His answer was most emphatic. “If we took it away from the middle class, they wouldn’t support it and it would turn into Medicaid” (underfunded, etc.) 


Why did Romney, the very week after picking Paul Ryan — the only person in Congress with the guts to even mention adjusting Medicare — promise that he would outspend Obama on Medicare?

Why have we not had a debate in Congress about a program that combines rank socialism with bankrupting the country?

Why do we continue to waste hundreds of billions of dollars of government money each year on that portion of the elderly population — including most of us — who can and should be taking financial responsibility for our own health care?


The politicians are afraid to do anything because we are all bellying up to this trough.

Do we all agree with Henry Waxman’s cynical calculation that we would not support Medicare if we were not benefiting from it ourselves?