Medicare Reform, RIP?

by Mario Rizzo

The Financial Times  reports today that the Republicans may be backing away from the (Paul) Ryan proposal  eventually to replace traditional Medicare with subsidies for the purchase of  private insurance. The Financial Times  says, “This would shift exposure to rising health costs away from the  government and on to seniors…” Of course, this is literally true if there is  never an increase in the dollar amount of the subsidy, an unlikely event in  view of the regular increases in Social Security benefits.

Putting aside, for the moment, the details of the Ryan plan,  what many voters refuse to understand is the unpleasant choice they inevitably face. Either cost-control by the consumers or  cost-control (aka rationing) by the State.  The issue is stark. Continue reading

How ObamaCare Might Be Repealed

by Mario Rizzo  

As long as Obama is president, it is unlikely that the recently-passed healthcare law will be explicitly repealed. However, it is quite possible that if certain constituent parts of the law begin to fail a radical transformation could take place.  

The longer-term Achilles’ heel of the law is the health insurance mandate. Following closely in terms of vulnerability, but a more short-run concern,  is the projected Medicare savings.  

Each of these can and will likely be picked apart.   Continue reading

Gigantism in Lawmaking

by Chidem Kurdas

Here’s another aspect of Obamacare. Last week we witnessed a demonstration of how politicians benefit from a massive law. President Obama signed the vast bill – 2409 pages – with great fun fare.  A video of the signing was all over the web.   The media was full of gushing reports.  Mr. Obama was explicitly praised for refusing to take small steps.

Had it been a more modest measure, it would not have generated all this hoopla and its signing would likely not have been applauded as a historic landmark. For politicians, a colossal piece of legislation has the built-in advantage of providing dramatic theatrics. But that’s not all. Giant laws have other benefits as well for the powers-that-be in Washington. Continue reading

Will Obamacare Be Deficit-Neutral? Part 2

by Mario Rizzo

To much fanfare the House Democrats just revealed their healthcare plan. Three items from the CNN report caught my eye:

“The nearly 2,000 page bill — a combination of three different versions passed by House committees…”

A priori, I say this will be a nightmare to read and a mess to interpret.

“Pelosi’s office said the bill would cut the federal deficit by roughly $30 billion over the next decade. The measure is financed through a combination of a tax surcharge on wealthy Americans and spending constraints in Medicare and Medicaid.”

That is $30 billion over TEN years.  When have Congressional estimates of savings not been seriously wrong in the direction of greater spending?

“Medicare expenditures would be cut by 1.3 percent annually.”

Politically impossible under the current mindset.

I am astonished by the patently obvious nonsense that is being peddled by this Congress.  Let them admit that what they propose will cost a ton and add to the deficits. Then, at least, we could see if there are any counter-balancing benefits.

UPDATE: A few hours ago the House Democrats said the bill would cost $871 billion over ten years.  However they “misspoke.”  Oops. It has now been revealed that it will cost $1.05 trillion over ten years. (But now it will save about $100 billion over ten years.)  Stay tuned.

Healthcare Honesty

by Chidem Kurdas

Cost savings from Medicare are claimed as one of the major sources of finance for the new medical entitlement program making its way through Congress, a claim that is astonishing in its brazen disregard of history.

President Obama talks about eliminating waste and inefficiency in Medicare, then turns around and reassures people there won’t be any Medicare cuts.  The savings are to come entirely from making Medicare more efficient and paying only for quality service. This notion is not new. It’s been around a long time.  Medicare, from its inception in 1965, has been a bottomless pit where money silently disappears into the coffers of the medical-industrial complex. There’s been attempts over the decades to control costs, using a variety of methods.

In the 1990s, when health management organizations slowed down the growth of private medical spending, Congress enacted a law to apply managed care to Medicare. “The program was authorized by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 with the intent of expanding health care options to Medicare beneficiaries by savings generated through what advocates assumed would be the efficiencies of managed care,” says a 2001 report.

Continue reading