Sunday, March 2, 2014

Obamacare vs. Medicare

Obamacare vs. Medicare
Mar 10, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 25 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
One of President Obama’s greatest political challenges has been hiding the fact that Obamacare is largely financed by siphoning huge sums of money out of Medicare. In particular, Obamacare cuts—or guts—Medicare Advantage, the popular program that allows seniors to get their Medicare benefits through private insurers. In fact, it’s only these Medicare Advantage cuts that allow the Congressional Budget Office to pretend that Obamacare won’t raise deficits—an implausible notion that polling indicates only a very small percentage of particularly credulous citizens believe.

Late on Friday, February 21, in a 148-page, after-hours communication, the Obama administration declared that cuts to Medicare Advantage, long put off, will finally take effect in 2015. Predictably, and understandably, many conservatives responded by criticizing the announcement.

The cuts are bad in and of themselves, but cuts to the program have been a part of Obamacare’s written text from day one. So the real question is not whether Obamacare will cut Medicare Advantage; it’s whether the Obama administration—which doesn’t want those cuts to become evident when Medicare’s open-enrollment period begins on October 15, less than three weeks before Election Day—will take unilateral, lawless executive action to stop the cuts from taking place. That’s what has happened to date.

In the lead-up to Obama’s reelection, he and his administration weren’t satisfied with having mailed out full-color, taxpayer-funded propaganda brochures and run millions of dollars’ worth of taxpayer-funded TV ads featuring Andy Griffith, all touting Obamacare to seniors. They knew that such nonsense would quickly be exposed if Obamacare’s prescribed Medicare Advantage cuts were to take effect: Seniors would have started noticing those cuts on October 15, 2012.

The Government Accountability Office identified this “demonstration project” as a sham. The GAO highlighted the project’s myriad “design shortcomings,” including its excessive focus on 2012, its awarding “most” of its “quality bonus[es]” to plans that didn’t perform at above-average levels, and its lack of a control group. The GAO, not known for its bluntness, concluded by writing that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius “should cancel” the project and perhaps consider conducting “an appropriately designed demonstration” in the future. A few months later, the GAO reiterated that all demonstration projects “must meet the criteria set forth” in law, which the Obama administration had “not established” it had done, leaving the GAO “concerned.”

At the time, Nebraska Republican Ben Sasse, HHS assistant secretary for planning and evaluation until January 2009 and now a Senate candidate, said, “If a presidential administration can simply make up the authority to make law and give itself the power of the purse to implement its new law—which not only isn’t designed to make existing law work but is actually against the purpose of existing law—why do we need a Congress?” Sasse added, “In scope and intention, this is something completely new, and if it’s allowed to establish precedent, the only limit on what future administrations could spend money on, or how much they could unilaterally spend, would be their own electoral calculations about what they could get away with.”

Were Medicare demonstration projects typically so huge or so lacking in legal justification pre-Obama? Actually, they were usually small and uncontroversial. The GAO said that from 1995 through the onset of Obama’s ploy—a period spanning the bulk of the Clinton administration, all of the George W. Bush administration, and beyond—85 Medicare demonstration projects were conducted. Obama’s $8,300,000,000 gambit cost more than all 85 of those prior projects combined.

Now, two years later, the “demonstration project” is over, and Medicare Advantage is back on the chopping block. The CBO says that if Obama’s centerpiece legislation is implemented as written, about $200 billion will be funneled out of Medicare Advantage and into Obamacare over the next decade. Like low-premium health plans and their accompanying health savings accounts, both of which Obamacare aims to diminish or eliminate, Medicare Advantage has proven extremely popular: Its enrollment more than doubled, according to the New York Times, in just the past eight years. With over 15 million seniors now in the program—more than a quarter of all Medicare beneficiaries—Obama-care’s $200 billion raid amounts to about $13,000 per current Medicare Advantage enrollee.

But Medicare Advantage is hardly the only part of Medicare that is scheduled to be looted by Obamacare. The CBO projects that, over the next decade, about $1 trillion that would otherwise have been spent on Medicare will be rerouted to Obamacare. That represents more than 10 percent of Medicare’s entire projected funding—which helps explain why Medicare’s Office of the Actuary has projected that, by 2020, Medicare will reimburse doctors and other health care providers at lower rates than Medicaid will. Imagine if Obama had pitched Obamacare by saying, Folks, we’re going to pass health reform, and to pay for it, we’re going to divert more than 10 percent of the money that’s projected to be spent on Medicare. That pitch would have made Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” speech look like a triumph of political rhetoric. But, as the CBO notes, that’s exactly what Obamacare will do.

Scott Armstrong is a member of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, and a director at the America's Health Insurance Plans.

Note: SHOCKING VIDEOS: Pete Sessions Supports Amnesty to ‘Accommodate’ Illegal Aliens for ‘Right Reasons’ (Past Research for the America's Health Insurance Plans)
Sunday, March 2, 2014
America's Health Insurance Plans is a major player for the health care debate.
Center for American Progress was a funder for the America's Health Insurance Plans.
Tom Daschle is a director at the Center for American Progress, was a nominee for health and human services secretary for the Barack Obama administration, a special policy adviser at Alston & Bird, and a 2008 Bilderberg conference participant (think tank).
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Timothy P. Trysla is a partner at Alston & Bird, and was a senior policy adviser to the administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Thomas A. Scully is a senior counsel at Alston & Bird, and was an administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Donald M. Berwick was an administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.
George Soros was a supporter for the Center for American Progress, and the chairman for the Foundation to Promote Open Society.
Foundation to Promote Open Society was a funder for the Center for American Progress, and the Committee for Economic Development.
Donna S. Morea was a trustee at the Committee for Economic Development, and the EVP for the CGI Group Inc.
CGI Group Inc. was the Obamacare contractor that developed web site.
Obamacare is Barack Obama’s signature policy initiative.
Kenneth M. Duberstein was the VP for the Committee for Economic Development, and is the chairman & CEO for the Duberstein Group, Inc.
Duberstein Group, Inc. is the lobby firm for the America's Health Insurance Plans.
Scott Armstrong is a director at the America's Health Insurance Plans, and a member of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.
Dan L. Crippen was the SVP for the Duberstein Group, Inc., and a director at the Congressional Budget Office.

No comments: