Archive for August, 2012
Health Care News
The rhetorical Medicare wars have heated up this week, after President Obama declared in his Saturday radio address that his proposed reforms “won’t touch your guaranteed Medicare benefits. Not by a single dime.”
This is incorrect. Obamacare cuts $716 billion from Medicare over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and uses these “savings” from Medicare to fund other entitlement expansions mandated by Obamacare. Medicare becomes a cash cow for Obamacare, and the Medicare “savings” from payment cuts are not put back into making Medicare solvent. Such massive payment cuts do impact Medicare benefits, as well as seniors’ access to those benefits.
Heritage’s Alyene Senger explains how this hurts America’s seniors:
The impact of these cuts will be detrimental to seniors’ access to care. The Medicare trustees 2012 report concludes that these lower Medicare payment rates will cause an estimated 15 percent of hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and home health agencies to operate at a loss by 2019, 25 percent to operate at a loss in 2030, and 40 percent by 2050. Operating at a loss means these facilities are likely to cut back their services to Medicare patients or close their doors, making it more difficult for seniors to access these services.
Health Care News
In a recent paper, Heritage expert Bob Moffit responds to the critics of the premium-support model for Medicare. This type of reform would give seniors a defined government contribution toward the cost of a Medicare plan of their choice. All plans would compete against each other to deliver market-based prices and higher quality care for seniors.
Here’s a summary of the most common arguments against premium support and why they don’t hold up against facts:
- “Premium support would destroy traditional Medicare.” Under all of the major premium-support proposals, traditional Medicare is still an option for seniors. Seniors would be given a choice between the fee-for-service Medicare of today or private plans. Medicare would be forced to compete with private plans that have the potential to offer greater benefits at a lower cost.
- “Premium support would ‘privatize’ Medicare.” Medicare is highly privatized already. Moffit points out that almost all of Medicare is comprised of private agents or institutions that are financed by the public and have to follow public rules. In addition, Medicare Advantage (MA), which currently enrolls 27 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries, is comprised of private health plans that compete against each other, and the Medicare prescription drug benefit is provided through private plans as well.
- “Premium support would leave Medicare patients at the mercy of rapacious insurance companies.” Moffit writes that “every major premium-support proposal would retain or reinforce insurance rules that prevent ‘cherry picking’ or coverage denials based on health status.”
Niall Ferguson poked a hornet’s nest Sunday with his Newsweek cover story, in large part for its claim that Obamacare would increase the budget deficit.
“Anyone who actually read, or even skimmed, the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] report knows that it found that [Obamacare] would reduce, not increase, the deficit,” wrote liberal economist Paul Krugman (referencing an outdated CBO analysis), “because the insurance subsidies were fully paid for.”
As usual, however, Krugman missed the more fundamental point underlying Ferguson’s argument: It’s Obamacare’s spending that matters.
In government budgeting, spending comes first; it drives all other fiscal consequences. Spending is how government programs and agencies do what they do. “In a fundamental sense, the federal government is what it spends,” says longtime budget expert Allen Schick.
Health Care News
Medicare is an emotionally charged program because it provides health insurance coverage for the elderly. But Medicaid covers America’s poor and disabled—and no one wants to see them harmed, either.
However, like Medicare, Medicaid is also in desperate need of reform if it is to continue serving the people it was designed to serve. Nearly one-third of America’s doctors are already opting out of treating Medicaid patients—because their costs often outweigh what the program pays for care.
States—which already have budget crises of their own—share the cost of Medicaid with the federal government. They can’t afford to simply add more people to Medicaid, which is one of Obamacare’s main ways to insure more people. (The Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision gave states some breathing room when it ruled that Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion must be optional for states.)
Health Care News
Not only did the President and his partners in Congress take $716 billion out of Medicare to pay for Obamacare, but they also raise taxes by $836.3 billion to pay for it, with $36.3 billion hitting Americans in 2013 alone. Here’s the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation‘s (JCT) updated cost of the Obamacare tax hikes and penalties.
To read about more of Obamacare’s negative effects, click here.
Health Care News
Each semester, we bring together more than 60 young leaders from across the country to participate in our internship program in D.C. They are given the opportunity of practical experience working on policy research, marketing, and business, and training in communication skills like blogging and public speaking. They learn about America’s founding principles while visiting important sites including the Pentagon, National Archives, and Mount Vernon. Combining an engaging curriculum with each intern’s individual talents and passion, the Young Leaders Program prepares students for success.
This summer, we challenged the interns to use their creativity to bring conservative principles to life. Heritage President Ed Feulner selected the winning projects. Matt Lauer, Kate Adams, Kaylyn Krzemien, and Tray Smith are the second place winners. Stay tuned for the first place winner tomorrow.
The Foundry featured a great deal of commentary before and after the Supreme Court’s historic decision on Obamacare. However, each post by a Heritage expert was followed by several comments from Foundry readers, who offered their own thoughts on the decision and the health care law.
Quick quiz: Who said this about Medicare? “With an aging population and rising health care costs, we are spending too fast to sustain the program. And if we don’t gradually reform the system while protecting current beneficiaries, it won’t be there when future retirees need it. We have to reform Medicare to strengthen it.”
It wasn’t Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), Mitt Romney’s new running mate, who has been vocal about the need for Medicare reform. It was President Barack Obama, just last year.
As the debate reignites over the government’s health care plan for seniors, which has a long-term unfunded liability of nearly $37 trillion, two things are important to remember:
1. Obamacare has already “ended Medicare as we know it.”
2. There is bipartisan consensus for moving Medicare toward a premium support model, meaning that the government would make a fixed contribution toward each enrollee’s plan, but the enrollee would have the freedom to choose which health care plan he or she wants.
Papa John’s Pizza founder John Schnatter spurred new outrage over Obamacare when he said recently that the law will hike pizza prices. But his business isn’t the only one that will have to pass its new costs on to consumers—or cut back, which will mean even fewer jobs.
At least 60 percent of firms are estimating Obamacare will raise their health care costs, according to a new study released Wednesday by Mercer, a human resources consulting firm. One-third of those expect a cost increase of 5 percent or more. The study reports:
The employers that will be hit hardest are those with large part-time populations—employers in retail and hospitality services. Nearly half of these employers (46%) expect PPACA will push up cost by at least 3% in 2014—and another third don’t yet know what the impact will be.
A full third of the businesses can’t even estimate Obamacare’s impact yet—because so many of the law’s rules have yet to be written by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). And a number of its main provisions don’t go into effect until 2014. (continued below chart)
The impact of this outlook—staring down cost increases mixed with the uncertainty of more government mandates and costly regulations to come—falls heavily on the economy.
After the Supreme Court ruling that upheld most of his health care law, President Obama claimed that the decision was a “victory for people all over the country.” However, public opinion polls that show that a majority of Americans don’t want Obamacare.
RealClearPolitics has compiled polling data since the bill was passed in March 2010, and the numbers are telling. The average of all polling from March 10, 2012, to August 5, 2012, shows support for repeal of Obamacare at 49.8 percent, with 42.2 percent opposed.
The public’s attitude toward Obamacare has remained consistent over time. A CNN/Opinion Research poll conducted in the days leading up to the bill’s signing showed that a majority of the people, 59 percent, opposed the legislation.
Over a year later, Americans’ opinion didn’t change. A Rasmussen poll taken less than three weeks before the 2010 midterm elections showed a near-record 61 percent supporting a full repeal of Obamacare. The American people reiterated their disdain for the law in the voting booth, purging Congress of many of the Members who voted in favor of Obamacare.
A new study reveals that nearly one-third of doctors nationwide are unwilling to accept new Medicaid patients.
The reason is that the government doesn’t pay enough to cover the cost of treating them. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Office of the Actuary, Medicaid physicians were paid only 58 percent of what private insurance paid in 2008.
The new study illustrates the correlation between Medicaid provider reimbursement and patient acceptance rates, stating that “acceptance rates of new Medicaid patients were higher in states with higher Medicaid-Medicare fee-for-service fee ratios. On average, a ten-percentage-point increase in fee ratio raised the acceptance of new Medicaid patients by four percentage points.”
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