Free Markets, Free People

Another Health Care Reform Myth Destroyed, But The Over All Deception Still Lives

One of the most persistent myths pushed by the health care “reformers” is that if you like what you have, nothing will change. Yes, friends, according to them, you can have something for nothing.

And nothing exemplifies the silliness of the claim than that which says Medicare recipients will continue to receive the same level of treatment they do now, but government will cut $500 billion from Medicare to pay for it.

For those that need it, a new study now makes official the fact that such cuts will indeed change the levels of treatment and benefits Medicare patients will receive. My guess is, this isn’t the “change” senior citizens voted for.

A plan to slash more than $500 billion from future Medicare spending — one of the biggest sources of funding for President Obama’s proposed overhaul of the nation’s health-care system — would sharply reduce benefits for some senior citizens and could jeopardize access to care for millions of others, according to a government evaluation released Saturday.

The report, requested by House Republicans, found that Medicare cuts contained in the health package approved by the House on Nov. 7 are likely to prove so costly to hospitals and nursing homes that they could stop taking Medicare altogether.

Congress could intervene to avoid such an outcome, but “so doing would likely result in significantly smaller actual savings” than is currently projected, according to the analysis by the chief actuary for the agency that administers Medicare and Medicaid. That would wipe out a big chunk of the financing for the health-care reform package, which is projected to cost $1.05 trillion over the next decade.

First, what happened to the reported cost of 894 billion when the bill first came out? Now it is being “projected to cost” 1.05 trillion – over the threshold. And, as everyone has been paying attention has said, the supposed savings will come at the cost of Medicare benefits for seniors.

In fact, according to this report, the cuts “would sharply reduce benefits for some senior citizens and could jeopardize access to care for millions of others”. Already low reimbursement rates cut even further would force hospitals and nursing home to reconsider taking Medicare patients at all.

No word if such cuts it will have any effect on this:

The government paid more than $47 billion in questionable Medicare claims including medical treatment showing little relation to a patient’s condition, wasting taxpayer dollars at a rate nearly three times the previous year.

Excerpts of a new federal report, obtained by The Associated Press, show a dramatic increase in improper payments in the $440 billion Medicare program that has been cited by government auditors as a high risk for fraud and waste for 20 years.

Look, there’s no question that Medicare, as structured, is going to break the bank. But then whose fault is that? It is and always has been a government run program, and it has about 50 trillion in unfunded liabilities in our future. So obviously that’s a program that badly needs reform.

But that wasn’t the point of the over all reform, was it? This was the “if you like what you have, you can keep it” reform. The point is that’s all a crock of rabbit pellets. This has nothing to do with leaving what exists alone – either on the government side (Medicare or Medicaid) or the private side (public option).

There’s more to the story though. The politics of this. What the Democrats in the House have presented is a bill which is so much smoke and mirrors it is embarrassing. Democrats know they have to get the number down in order to sell this travesty as not adding to the deficit. They also know how very important a demographic seniors are. So you have to look at this and ask, “are they really willing to risk their majority by making seniors mad? Are they willing to let themselves be defeated by making the hard decision to cut Medicare programs and effect senior’s Medicare benefits?

Of course not. It’s one thing to put it in a bill as a device to “balance” your spending. It’s another thing to do the actually cutting. And, if the “doc fix” bill is any indication, they have absolutely no intention of doing so:

So, to avoid its own prescribed draconian cuts in Medicare doctors’ payments, Congress goes through an annual Chinese fire drill to prevent its goofy formula from being implemented each year. As a budgetary matter, the accumulated cuts now amount to an automatic reduction in physician payment of 21 percent effective next year. That prospect has the professional medical organizations in a tizzy, and they are willing to do anything – anything, mind you- to avoid that fate worse than death, even to the point of formally embracing H.R. 3962, the gargantuan 2032 page House health care bill.

To lure the desperate doctors into bed with the liberals, their big ugly “public option” and all (analogously, a longer prison sentence, but better food and more yard time), the Congressional leadership included a “permanent fix” to Medicare physician payment in the original version of the 1018 page House bill, small increases, no cuts. But they carved it out because its cost made the House health care bill appear too expensive. So, to keep that version “looking cheaper”, they created another vehicle (H.R 3961), a companion bill, that would provide for a permanent Medicare “doc fix” at a ten year cost of $210 billion.

Or said succinctly – it’s all BS. Democrats not only intend to add to the deficit, they intend it in a big way, all the while telling us all lies about how it all stacks up as smoothly as the world’s most accomplished con artist. Is this the “change we asked for?”



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