Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Destroying Medicare

The WSJ points us to a report on the Democrats' proposed plan that came out last week from the agency that runs Medicare. It sounds a clear warning about what this plan would do to Medicare.
Richard Foster, the chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, reports that under his analysis national health spending will rise under the bills by $222 billion over the next 10 years. In other words, ObamaCare really does "bend the cost curve"—up.

Even that estimate exists only on paper, as Mr. Foster has the honesty to admit. Because "most of the coverage provisions would be in effect for only six of the 10 years of the budget period, the cost estimates shown in this memorandum do not represent a full 10-year cost for the proposed legislation," he writes. The report is punctuated by phrases like "unrealistic" and "doubtful," and Mr. Foster adds that "the scope and magnitude of these changes are such that few precedents exist for use in estimation."
Remember that the health care plan is only "paid for" because they promise to make cuts in Medicare reimbursements, something that Congress has never had the political courage to actually do so it's improbable to base the financial stability of this program on such weak promises. And if the government keeps reimbursements below market, more and more doctors will refuse to take Medicare patients.
The report also calls out the new entitlement program for long-term care, which is included only because it will start collecting premiums five years before it starts paying benefits. In return for this accounting gimmick, the fisc will be saddled with a program that Mr. Foster estimates will be bankrupt by 2025. It may be sooner than that, however, as the program will tend to attract sicker people, presenting the possibility of "a significant risk of failure as a result of adverse selection by participants."
And yet the Democrats forge ahead, so determined to pass something, anything that they can label as health care that they are even talking about not delaying the seating of a democratically elected senator if, by some stroke of luck, Scott Brown wins in Massachusetts, just so they can pass this monstrosity.

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