Thompson admits he doesn't know if Medicare plan would save money

2012-10-20T07:45:00Z 2012-10-25T18:55:53Z Thompson admits he doesn't know if Medicare plan would save moneyDEE J. HALL | Wisconsin State Journal | dhall@madison.com | 608-252-6132 madison.com

U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson acknowledged Friday that he doesn't know whether his latest plan to change Medicare will save recipients or the federal government any money.

Thompson, the Republican governor of Wisconsin from 1988 to 2001, outlined the plan before the Wisconsin State Journal editorial board: Allow those who are 50 by the year 2020 to either stay on Medicare or join the same health insurance plan that members of Congress and federal employees have.

Asked how much the plan would cost, Thompson initially said the Congressional Budget Office had evaluated his plan and "it has been projected that it would save money." He later acknowledged that the nonpartisan CBO had not evaluated the plan.

"I have not scored it," Thompson said, adding that since he is not in office, "I have no ability to score it."

A side-by-side evaluation of Medicare and the federal employee health insurance program done in September found the federal plan grew by an average of 7.1 percent per enrollee per year compared to a 5.8 percent average growth rate for traditional Medicare.

The evaluation was commissioned by Kaiser Health News, the nonprofit health care news arm of the Kaiser Family Foundation. The organization reported that the data analysis and interviews with experts showed the federal employee plan "had not held down costs per enrollee as efficiently as Medicare during the past decade."

Medicare has become a central issue in the race for Senate between Thompson and U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison. Baldwin campaign spokesman John Kraus said Thompson's plan is "something he came up with in the last week or two."

Kraus accused Thompson — who ran Medicare for four years while secretary of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — of changing his stance to appeal to voters nervous about big changes in Medicare.

Thompson had been a vocal supporter of the plan by vice presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan that calls for recipients to receive a set amount of money with which to purchase either traditional Medicare benefits or a private plan.

"For the last year, he has stood very firm in support of the Ryan plan to end the guarantee of Medicare in favor of a voucher plan," Kraus said. "The last month of the race, he's trying to run away from the Ryan plan."

Last week, a Kaiser Family Foundation study concluded that under Ryan's plan, 59 percent of retirees and the disabled on Medicare would pay more for health care, ranging from hundreds to thousands more per year, depending on where they live. In Wisconsin, 10 percent of Medicare recipients would pay at least $100 more per month, the study predicted.

On Friday, Thompson described his latest proposal this way: "This is a plan by Paul Ryan, I've modified it. I think my plan is better."

Bobby Peterson, president of the health care advocacy group ABC for Health, credited Thompson for creative thinking when he established BadgerCare, a public-private program administered by the state that now ensures 700,000 low- and moderate-income Wisconsin residents.

But, said Peterson, "I'm skeptical about this brainchild — whether it would help or hurt health care costs."

Asked why he is proposing a plan with no known price tag, Thompson called it "a giant step in the right direction."

"Medicare is going broke, and we have to do something about it," he said. "It's a plan. It's a plan that I believe more than likely will work."

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(48) Comments

  1. Nav
    Report Abuse
    Nav - October 21, 2012 10:25 am
    Tomtom, you are looking at it from a narrow angle. The question that maybe you should ponder is if Canadians think their system is such a bad one, why does the Government not change it? It is not just Canada. MANY countries provoide universal health care for their citizens because they value them. I dont see any push on their part to change to the type of system we have. Do you?
  2. tomtom33
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    tomtom33 - October 20, 2012 4:00 pm
    Corporations are not evil. Who is demonizing?

    If the US is so far behind, why do people choose to come here for their medical care?
  3. tomtom33
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    tomtom33 - October 20, 2012 3:56 pm
    "Why haven't we adopted it? Because greedy people (mostly Republicans) have fought it tooth and nail for 100 years."

    Horsefeathers. If it was that good, the GOP would have embraced it. Contrary to the bull you toss, the GOP is not out to ruin the country. Greedy people cannot thwart the obvious good.
  4. tomtom33
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    tomtom33 - October 20, 2012 3:52 pm
    You can fudge and fib until the cows come home. Sustainable means sustainable.
  5. 53703
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    53703 - October 20, 2012 3:33 pm
    Tommy is turning into Grampa Simpson.

    Grampa: In 1957 I saw him turn turn the Secretary of Agriculture into the Secretary of the Interior. It was hell on their wives, but it sure brought down corn prices. Built a house out of corn. It was the worst home I ever owned? when it got really hot it smelled like Fritos.

    Bart: Didn't you wonder why you were getting checks for doing nothing?
    Grampa: I figured it was because the Demmie-crats were back in power.

    Grampa: One trick is to tell 'em stories that don't go anywhere, like the time I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe, so, I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. "Give me five bees for a quarter," you'd say. Now, where were we? Oh yeah, the important thing was I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn't have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones..

  6. Wis_taxpayer
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    Wis_taxpayer - October 20, 2012 2:22 pm
    You're so right preacher, we need to get more Republicans into office so they can use their power and Government to impose your religious beliefs on all of us. Because as we all know your religion is the only true religion and should be forced on everyone, right?
  7. cscrash
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    cscrash - October 20, 2012 2:03 pm
    What a know nothing blustering blowhard Tommy is. He lies about this, he lies about not signing the Grover Norquist pledge, and so much more.
  8. Shake
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    Shake - October 20, 2012 1:05 pm
    It is not isolated, it's how it works in almost every industrialized country in the world except America.
  9. Shake
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    Shake - October 20, 2012 1:03 pm
    Wait times depend on type of treatment and where you are, as the system is administer province by province. Statistical averages say that if you need a knee replacement you will wait about 10% longer, on average, than in the US. The difference is that 100% of Canadians are eligible to have one if needed. If you are having a heart attack and then need surgery, there is no difference from the US, you just don't go bankrupt from not having insurance.
    Why haven't we adopted it? Because greedy people (mostly Republicans) have fought it tooth and nail for 100 years.
  10. RedWhiteBlue
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    RedWhiteBlue - October 20, 2012 12:31 pm
    Do you know how many people are going to Canada and Mexico for prescriptions? Do you know how many people go out of our country for surgeries because they are cheaper elsewhere? Do you know how many people go bankrupt because they get sick? Do you know how many people don't go to the doctor because they can't afford it? Do you know how many people don't change jobs because they have a preexisting condition?

    I wouldn't brag about our system anywhere outside of a tea part rally.
  11. magnum1
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    magnum1 - October 20, 2012 11:53 am
    That isn't all Tommy doesn't know, he also don't know how to treat a lady after I saw him bullying his opponent around by almost yelling to be heard over her comments. Thompson cares about nothing more than his own pocket book and is using our Government to get rich. Our for fathers are rolling in their graves while this is happening in our Government today. How un American can a person in our Government be!
  12. array1
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    array1 - October 20, 2012 11:36 am
    The GOP platform forbids policy such as teaching contraception in sex ed, a policy that has been proven to reduce teen pregnancy and abortion at home here in Wisconsin. If you truly wanted to improve the conditions that lead to abortion in the first place you would vote democratic here, my backwards friend.
  13. dante
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    dante - October 20, 2012 9:55 am
    Uhhhh, you mean like Romney's pledge to "put back $716b" into Medicare, which will cause it to go broke 8 years EARLIER than it will under Obama?

    If that's a GOP's idea of "sustainable", I really hope that you have an accountant do your finances since you'll be headed for Chapter 7/11 bankruptcy if you run your household budget that way...
  14. dante
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    dante - October 20, 2012 9:40 am
    I hope that this is sarcasm. If so, well done! :)
  15. dakref
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    dakref - October 20, 2012 9:29 am
    Wrong slant wiseye. The 716 billion cut was from SUBSIDIES paid to hospitals and insurance companies. Nothing cut from the docs or benefits.
  16. Wis_taxpayer
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    Wis_taxpayer - October 20, 2012 8:01 am
    I just see a tired old man, trying to relive the glory years..... kind of sad.
  17. Wis_taxpayer
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    Wis_taxpayer - October 20, 2012 7:50 am
    Tom instead of trying to scare people about universal healthcare.... maybe you could answer the bigger question, why is the US the LAST industrialized nation to finally have something even close to universal healthcare?

    Everyone can find a story or two about anything to try to prove their case. But you can't deny the fact that the US is years behind every other industrialized nation with regard to universal Government provided healthcare.

    Just like the US is behind in universal Government provided education.

    Did you know that in Germany taxes take 50% of your income? Yes, 50% of what you earn goes to the Government! But do you see a mass exodus from Germany? and why not?

    Maybe because in Germany the day you start a job, your entitled to 6 weeks of paid vacation! Your also entitled to paid sick leave. If you get pregnant your entitled to 14 months of paid maternity leave.

    Also in Germany your entitled to a Government paid education. Your also entitled to free healthcare.

    So why pick on Canada? I guess this was the only horror story you could come up with.... Just like Reagan with the one story his administration could find about welfare queens.

    Tom, maybe you should google how many horror stories there are about American doctors and treatment. Also google how many Americans go to other countries for medical treatment.... if you want to instill fear about healthcare, there are far more stories to tell about the US healthcare system than other countries, I'm just saying.

    This is what Romney was hinting about in his 47% video, that people feel they are "Entitled" Do you know what scares the hell out of Romney and the Republicans?

    In countries like Germany corporations can't make money off of people suffering. They can't keep people poor by making them pay for the necessities of life. They have to pay the Government minimum wage, which is far higher than in the US.


  18. davea
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    davea - October 20, 2012 7:41 am
    That's just one, on the long list, that Tommy doesn't know!
  19. mojo
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    mojo - October 20, 2012 7:03 am
    I just have an anecdote to offer in response to your first question. While on vacation earlier this year I spoke with a Canadian couple about their health care -- how long did it take to be seen, quality of service, etc. -- the stuff we all hear is the weakness in their system. This 55 - 65 y.o. middle class (they were on a 3 week vacation in New Zealand = $$) couple had no complaints. He could have been talking about getting services from GHC here, in Madison -- there was, on the surface, no difference. He also related the story of the very positive experiences they had with their health care system related to his mother's multiple bouts with cancer. She was treated well, often/repeatedly and they had no complaints.
    The most interesting thing to me was the response I got when i asked the Canadians and the Kiwis we met if they had any experience with people losing their homes or life savings paying for medical treatments for major diseases. They stared at me blankly -- didn't really have a frame of reference for this idea.
    I know this is just an isolated anecdote, but I think it is interesting.

    As for why we haven't adopted the Canadian system, I think it has to do with the ability of some companies/people to make a lot of money from the current system and that they wouldn't make as much if it changed. Money can't buy love and happiness, but it can buy politicians.
  20. Timothy Taylor
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    Timothy Taylor - October 20, 2012 6:48 am
    It is from too much drinking!
  21. digger
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    digger - October 20, 2012 5:47 am
    Hey, I got a plan..why not calculate how many homes you own...hint, it's over three and under five! Jus saying....
  22. tomtom33
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    tomtom33 - October 20, 2012 5:21 am
    What is the average wait for regular medical procedures in Canada? How many Canadian citizens come to the US for treatment? If the Canadian system was clearly so superior to ours, don't you suppose that we would have adopted it long ago?
  23. tomtom33
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    tomtom33 - October 20, 2012 5:16 am
    "They want to get rid of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security altogether."

    They do want to change Medicare and SS to make them sustainable. The Democratic head-in-sand will destroy them.
  24. tomtom33
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    tomtom33 - October 20, 2012 5:13 am
    When Part D was passed, Congress wanted to establish the premium at $36 per month. Bush refused. Competition resulted in an average premium of $22 per month. If the negotiation thing was so horrible, why didn't the Democrats repeal that part when they had a super majority?

    The program will kill itself without changes.
  25. JAlfredPrufrock
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    JAlfredPrufrock - October 19, 2012 11:29 pm
    What happened to Tommy? He looks older than Methuselah.
  26. Fartinthewind
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    Fartinthewind - October 19, 2012 11:13 pm
    Republicans have been saying for years "everyone should have the opportunity to have the same insurance and retirement congress gets

    Tommy's getting so senile he actually tried to float the idea as a campaign issue.
  27. Shake
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    Shake - October 19, 2012 10:51 pm
    Canadian percentage of GDP spent on healthcare = 12
    Number of citizens not covered = 0

    US percentage of GDP spent on healthcare = 18
    Number of citizens not covered = 50 million

    Medicare for all as it was intended.

  28. 196ski
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    196ski - October 19, 2012 10:44 pm
    Oh, how could I forget, Obamacare.

    "The Medicare cuts, passed in the Affordable Care Act, come in the form of reimbursement reductions to hospitals, Medicaid prescription drugs and private insurance plans under Medicare Advantage. The Congressional Budget Office projects that they’ll extend the solvency of Medicare by eight years."

    So after 10 years of NOT allowing reimbursement reductions the odds of Democrats and Republicans in Congress allowing this is about zero.
  29. Jambalaya
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    Jambalaya - October 19, 2012 10:18 pm
    What are you smoking. They most certainly have come up with something and it results in Medicare NOT running out of money in 2015 as it would under Reyan's plan. Educate yourself.
  30. Jambalaya
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    Jambalaya - October 19, 2012 10:16 pm
    This is your Republican party, spartan. you're shooting the messenger. Every time Tommy opens his mouth another Onion article is born.
  31. Jambalaya
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    Jambalaya - October 19, 2012 10:13 pm
    Ha! Another Onion-like article courtesy of the Republican party.

    "Asked why he is proposing a plan with no known price tag, Thompson called it 'a giant step in the right direction.'"

    Priceless.
  32. Roundtable
    Report Abuse
    Roundtable - October 19, 2012 9:41 pm
    Let's see ,the Buffett rule HR 3903, The Paying a Fair Share act that middle-class taxpayers would not pay more than those earning more than a million dollars in a year.That one was authored by Ms.Baldwin herself.This plan requires those above that amount to pay a 30% tax rate.We need revenue. Hack and slash isn't the answer. A combination of revenue and tax cuts are needed for everyone.The Negotiating for Seniors Act which would lower prescription drug costs for seniors.This is starting to sound like a commercial, though all of these sound feasible. Oh did I forget to mention.she also led a delegation to find Federal funding for the drought-stricken farmers in 23 counties in our state this year. From what I know, the list goes on and on.You know why? She cares.
  33. thedude25
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    thedude25 - October 19, 2012 9:16 pm
    What!?!? Where am I? What tavern am I in? Are the Packers on? Ya got any of dem squeky cheez curds, yeah hey? Duhhhhh.... I a hay seed and Wisconsinites are figuring it out..... Duuhhh....
  34. Nav
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    Nav - October 19, 2012 8:33 pm
    Thompson didnt have time to think that far ahead to know whether his plan would save moiney or not. After all, the REAL Tommy told us that who was better than HIM to "do away" with medicare. His words...not mine.
  35. 196ski
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    196ski - October 19, 2012 8:09 pm
    The Board of Trustees of both Medicare and Social Security are saying that BOTH programs are in serious trouble. Nobody, Republican or Democrat, wants to modify either, it is akin to political suicide. Both are poplar and unfortunately the public seems incapable of investing even a small amount of time finding out what the problems are. We want them, we don't want them changed and yet we can't be bothered to investigate the causes of the shortfalls or possible solutions. We don't want to talk about it and if a politician dares to bring it up they will be vilified by the masses and the opposing party.

    How could the CBO score anyones plan when it is unknown again whether Congress is going to pass the "Doc Fix" again? For something like 10 years Medicare has had a scheduled cut to the reimbursement of physicians for the treatment they give Medicare patients. This cut is based on several factors including things like physicians being able to diagnose better because of new diagnostic tools and physicians being more efficient (computerized medical records etc). If the Doc Fix is not passed for 2013 the cut to physicians is on the order of 30%. Even with the Doc Fix being passed physicians are finding that they lose money treating Medicare patients and are limiting or eliminating the treatment of those patients. Come to think of it maybe that is the current Administrations plan for fixing Medicare. They certainly haven't come up with anything else other than to slam Ryan for proposing a solution. Ration Medicare by not paying hospitals and physicians and then blaming THEM for the problem. Those Democrats, sly like a fox.
  36. wisconsineye
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    wisconsineye - October 19, 2012 7:51 pm
    Paul- 0ne more thing. It is reported that docs are refusing new medicare patients because the reimbursement (now) does not cover costs. Ombummer is saying we can cut 716 Billion from Medicare (to pay for Obamacare) by cutting reimbursements to the docs and insurance companies. How do you think that is going to work out?
    Please, (please) read up (from whatever source) and fact check what this guy is trying to do.
  37. Wis_taxpayer
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    Wis_taxpayer - October 19, 2012 7:39 pm
    When you have no argument.... attack the messenger!
  38. wisconsineye
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    wisconsineye - October 19, 2012 7:25 pm
    Paul- Your head is in the dark place. Tell us, will Medicare continue without any changes?
    If you say 'yes', I do not think you are connected with reality. If you say 'no'- tell us what you would do.Come on Paul- what great incite do you have for us?
  39. spartan
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    spartan - October 19, 2012 6:48 pm
    A bias article by Dee Hall - shocking!

    Dee - please write about the wonderful things Tammy has done for us. Tell us about the bills she has passed during her time in Congress. Tell us about her plan to help the economy, create jobs, do something.

    This "paper" is becoming difficult to differentiate from the Onion.
  40. gobi
    Report Abuse
    gobi - October 19, 2012 6:39 pm
    The Republican Plan: Let the Poor die - How anyone with any redeeming human emotions can vote for this party is beyond me. It very sad and it says a lot about how we can be so swayed by politacal propoganda.
  41. Wis_taxpayer
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    Wis_taxpayer - October 19, 2012 6:33 pm
    Quote from Rick Santorum: "Smart people won't vote for us"

    Smart people won't vote for Tommy either.
  42. Wis_taxpayer
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    Wis_taxpayer - October 19, 2012 6:31 pm
    Well preacher, it was Democrats that created Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and the Republicans that have tried to kill these programs from the day they were created. Yet, the Republicans try to sell their snake oil of "protecting" these programs by privatizing them.

    The holier than thou Republican Paul Ryan received a letter from the Bishops condemning his budget as a burden on the poor.

    While Obama extended the life of Medicare by 8 years.... with no help from the Republicans!

    Isn't there a proverb that goes something like; Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.

    You remember the poor don't you? you know, the 47% of people Romney isn't going to worry about because they pay no taxes and are dependent on others.
  43. tomtom666
    Report Abuse
    tomtom666 - October 19, 2012 6:23 pm
    da_n, da_n, god _amn the preacher, I mean the pusher man.
  44. Wis_taxpayer
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    Wis_taxpayer - October 19, 2012 5:04 pm
    Republicans don't want to "fix" anything they want to destroy things!

    They want to get rid of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security altogether. They really hate that the Government "steals" their money and gives it to the 47% of people who don't pay taxes and think they are entitled to healthcare and who refuse to take responsibility for their lives!

    hmmm, where have I heard that before?
  45. array1
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    array1 - October 19, 2012 4:57 pm
    Oh no. Tommy "the toad" Thompson is beginning to show signs of romnesia.
  46. paulwesterberg
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    paulwesterberg - October 19, 2012 4:53 pm
    While Tommy was Secretary of health and human services in the Bush administration they passed the Medicare part D to cover prescription drugs, but they made it illegal for the government to negotiate for lower drug prices and they didn't allocate revenue for the program.

    This has caused Medicare costs to increase, now Republicans want to "fix" it by killing the program.
  47. Whazzat
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    Whazzat - October 19, 2012 4:52 pm
    "a plan that I believe more than likely will work". Now that's the kind of leadership we need to turn this country around. Drunk, blowhard, opportunist and now a guy who makes up ____ as the campaign progresses. I'm amazed that this race is close - makes me embarassed to say that I live in Wisconsin.
  48. paulwesterberg
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    paulwesterberg - October 19, 2012 4:48 pm
    Tommy Thompson sounds like he is trying to hide the fact that he likes Paul Ryans plan to turn Medicare into an underfunded Voucher system.

    Their plan is great for rich people who have their own extra money to buy real health insurance but it will leave many seniors with inadequate access to health care.
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