The Health Reform Bill Cuts Medicare. Not.

As you may have read or heard, the health reform legislation cuts Medicare by about $500 billion. What this means, exactly, is up for grabs. The conservative opposition to the cuts is clearly a political ploy, since they’ve been trying to destroy Medicare for decades. But even I get my hackles up when I hear that more than half of the health care reform’s $940 billion cost is being covered by cuts to Medicare, while the drug and insurance companies get a free ride (or in fact, a boost).

A closer look, however, reveals that a lot of the cuts are to private Medicare Advantage plans, which I’ve long opposed as a mammoth rip-off. The legislation’s supporters swear it won’t compromise benefits, and the Medicare Rights Center (which I trust a lot more than I do AARP) is all for it. 

I’ll be writing more about this in the future–but for now, Factcheck.org, the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s project that aims to straighten out some of the more egregious misconceptions about public policy, lays out the basics:

Whether these are “cuts” or much-needed “savings” depends on the political expedience of the moment, it seems. When Republican Sen. John McCain, then a presidential candidate, proposed similar reductions to pay for his health care plan, it was the Obama camp that attacked the Republican for cutting benefits. Whatever you want to call them, it’s a $500 billion reduction in the growth of future spending over 10 years, not a slashing of the current Medicare budget or benefits. It’s true that those who get their coverage through Medicare Advantage’s private plans (about 22 percent of Medicare enrollees) would see fewer add-on benefits; the bill aims to reduce the heftier payments made by the government to Medicare Advantage plans, compared with regular fee-for-service Medicare. The Democrats’ bill also boosts certain benefits: It makes preventive care free and closes the “doughnut hole,” a current gap in prescription drug coverage for seniors.

6 responses to “The Health Reform Bill Cuts Medicare. Not.

  1. Glad to see that you are on board.

    The next step is payment reform that pays all providers the same regardless of whether the patient is old, poor, employed or other.

    Not to mention exposing gutless Democrats who wimped out against the interests of their own constituents.

  2. Everybody agrees that the new health plan will reduce Medicare’s spending over the next ten years by $500 billion. Whether you think Medicare Advantage plans are a rip-off or not, their overpayment is only $132-150 billion over the same ten years, so there’s still $350 billion that’s unaccounted for. Obama says much of that will be reduced payments to hospitals, and much will be decided by the secretive Independent Payment Commission, whose recommendations are law unless specifically countermanded by Congress. In other words, I think there’s plenty to worry about regarding Medicare and the Obama health plan. When he increases and cements into place profits for insurers, drug manufacturers, and hospital chains, but says the plan is deficit neutral, something’s got to give, and its Medicare.

  3. Unless you share the lunatic finge’s view of Obama as a commie-pinko-socialist-nazi-baby killer, you have to believe there’s no love lost between him and the insurers or drug makers. You also have to view what’s happened as a not very palatable but necessary beginning that could never have happened, were the Democrats out of power.

  4. Believing Obama as a commie-pinko-socialist-nazi-baby killer is indeed lunitic fringe, but believing him a friend of big business is just admitting reality. Look at his economic advisers, Summers, Robert Rubin spin-offs, Geithner etc. Look at the bank bailout. And look at the health bill.

  5. mlyoh01–
    I have a theory on this (what don’t I have a theory on?): if Obama is NOT a commie-pinko etc., if in other words he thinks government needs to play a significant role in a complex society, then it’s necessary to explain those advisors you speak of. Instead of sympathy for big business, I happen to think the explanation lies in Old School ties. Think how loyal and grateful someone of humble origins must feel toward the prestigious schools he attended, and the people he met there. Think how much he would gravitate toward those with connections to those schools.

  6. Gamester Chronicles

    The Players and whats up for grabs. Profits United Health Group 2010 $4.293 billion
    Here are some other 2010 budget numbers: Wonder what it cost CMS ( Can’t Manage Shit) to operate each year. $453 billion Medicare/// $290 billion Medicaid ///$78.7 billion Department of Health and Human Services/// UnitedHealth Group Awarded TRICARE Managed Care Support Contract … Jul 13, 2009 … UnitedHealth Group Awarded TRICARE Managed Care Support Contract for more than $20.3 billion. BILLIONS awarded and still to be awarded United’s AmeriChoice unit is the largest government contractor administering state Medicaid programs for the poor and federally sponsored plans for children. AmeriChoice’s revenue rose 34% last year, to $6 billion.

    United Health Group and its subsidiarys must be exhausted from signing Corporate Integrity agreements each and every year and as reward for their violations well what happens? they are awarded more contracts and more money and maybe even an ambassadorship here and there and if anybody should question what the heck is going on, then send them a Elmo doll. (Americhoice sponsors Sesame Street) Up side, Billions to be made, down side pay some fines (cost of doing business) move on and nobody goes to jail or gets excluded from the game. Get up the next day put on your Elmo costume and its back to work as usual. WOW, even in the Casino world or Mob world this would be a no no, suprised Hollywood has not done a movie on this or maybe even great TV.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s