Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Tories’ alleged U-turn on “dementia tax” is fake news

A slight deviation from the issue of Brexit to take a justified sideswipe at the continuously misleading legacy media, continuing its tricks of “fake news” in matters beyond Brexit.

In the Conservative Party manifesto, page 64 (pdf page 66 out of 88), headed “An Ageing Society”, sets out the Party’s policies to tweak the methods of self-funding old age care.

The manifesto does not spell out the current and future costs of the status quo, or the manifesto’s proposals.  However, it proposes to increase a limit (a cap?) known as the “residual capital floor”.  This is the value of the patient’s estate - assets, including property, chattels, life insurance policies, etc - that the patient is allowed to keep after having co-paid for their health care costs.  The present limit is £23,250; the proposal is to lift it to £100,000.  The state will continue to expect the patient to co-pay their healthcare costs until the value of their estate falls to the “residual capital floor”.  The state will continue to pay for further costs directly and without limitation.

Two other proposals are:
  • to end the senseless discrimination of the means-test between care locations, i.e. the means-test would apply equally to care provided at home, or care provided elsewhere.
  • To end the senseless discrimination of deferred payments between care locations.  At present, those receiving care at home must pay up-front, which can mean selling their home (or releasing equity) to fund healthcare, whereas patients receiving care at other locations may defer their co-payments.

I think the manifesto’s proposals are rather timid, rather modest, too incremental and phased in too slowly.  They don’t address the fundamental problem that today’s generation of elderly chose not to save anything like enough for their own future healthcare costs while they were of working age, to say nothing of the few who retired early (aged 55 or younger) then blew their pensions on luxury cruises.  But, that aside, the proposals look reasonable enough.  Certainly nothing to justify scaremongering horror stories.

But, of course, the Labour Party is in the horror business.  And it is election season.  The Conservative’s proposals rather naïvely give Labour an opportunity to create its own mini-Project Fear for healthcare costs.

The Conservative manifesto fails to mention anything about a cap (an “absolute limit”) on the amount that the patient would need to co-pay.  An intelligent person might have already realised that an “absolute limit” would be, at best, fatuous.  But, of course, the Labour Party doesn’t really speak to intelligent people: any deliberate missing-of-the-point, presented convincingly, will do!   It went on the attack because there was no “absolute limit”.  The Labour Party needed two attempts to deliver such a soundbite - oh, the days of Blair & Campbell are soooo definitely over! - and successfully disinformed anybody stupid enough to listen.

The mass media listened.

Cue mass stupidity from the mass media.

Cue an intervention from Theresa “StrongAndStable” May, who then told the world that a consultation would include a question about the absolute cap.  And apparently, that’s a U-turn.

Cue even more stupidity from the mass media.

Even Business Insider jumped onto the bandwagon that the manifesto proposal was poorly planned, poorly chosen and poorly presented.  Of course, the left-wing BBC recycled the disinformation as much as it could, even within one programme! (Daily Politics, 22May2017).  Only one media outlet (Chronicle Live) sought to explain what had actually happened.

And here’s the punchline: it’s all fake news!

The horrible truth is that today’s elderly are very much MacMillan’s molly-coddled generation: they’ve never had it so good.  While they worked, they paid virtually nothing into properly-funded pension or welfare schemes to fund their longer-term retired life, but a few did pay a pittance into defined benefit pension schemes (and then expected miracles to happen).  At the same time, they voted for governments who dodged imposing any individual obligation to save for one’s own future healthcare (to protect overall social welfare), and who instead proposed a hand-to-mouth funding of the welfare state apparently free at the point of delivery, and without restriction (precisely to imperil social welfare).  These governments of the 1940s-2010s continued to kick the can down the road, gambling that the cost of the national welfare and health states could be deferred forever.  But, the fall in the birth-rate revealed the gamble as a ponzi scheme.  Inward migration appeared to have no noticeable effect on the relative affordability of the welfare state, any more than it might have had an impact upon the overall taxable base.  And worse than that, inward migration simply increased the demands on the welfare & health states!  Whilst the likes of Bernie Madoff got done for running a ponzi scheme, no British politician or civil servant has been jailed for “running” the British welfare state.  Funny that.

So instead of universally slamming both Conservatives and Labour by exposing deeply (and childishly) flawed policies to co-pay old age healthcare, the media circus whitters on about U-turns.  It’s all back to Westminster tittle-tattle, to hell with the policies that we, the taxpayers, are going to fund, largely to our own disservice and detriment.

We’ve seen it all before, though.  Just as the legacy mass media has set out to mislead us on Brexit, on Europe and on basic economics, it continues to mislead us in a general election campaign.  How much more deceit from the mass media should we taxpayers put up with?

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