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Medicare Actuary Undercuts HCR Claims

From the Associated Press:

Medicare official doubts health care law savings

January 26, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two of the central promises of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law are unlikely to be fulfilled, Medicare’s independent economic expert told Congress on Wednesday.

The landmark legislation probably won’t hold costs down, and it won’t let everybody keep their current health insurance if they like it, Chief Actuary Richard Foster told the House Budget Committee. His office is responsible for independent long-range cost estimates…

Foster was asked by Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., for a simple true or false response on two of the main assertions made by supporters of the law: that it will bring down unsustainable medical costs and will let people keep their current health insurance if they like it.

On the costs issue, "I would say false, more so than true," Foster responded.

As for people getting to keep their coverage, "not true in all cases."

Obama White House officials dispute his analysis and predict that he will be proven wrong about the health care law. Republicans hang on his every word

Foster says analysis by his office shows that the health care law will raise the nation’s health care tab modestly because newly insured people will be getting medical services they would have otherwise gone without.

How this could even be a matter for debate is beyond us. And we don’t understand how the increase will only be ‘modest.’ There won’t be anything ‘modest’ about the cost of insuring 30 million more people.

Costs could also increase if Medicare cuts to hospitals, nursing homes and home health agencies turn out to be politically unsustainable over the years. The actuary’s office has projected those cuts would eventually force about 15 percent of providers into the red. The health care law funnels savings from the Medicare cuts to provide coverage to uninsured workers and their families.

In what amounts to the mother of all ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ shell games.

As for people getting to keep their health insurance plan, Foster’s office is projecting that more than 7 million Medicare recipients in private Medicare Advantage plans will eventually have to find other coverage, cutting enrollment in the plans by about half.

The health care law gradually cuts generous government payments to the plans, so insurers are expected to raise premiums or even drop out. And the main reason seniors have flocked to the private plans is that they offer lower out-of-pocket costs…

But only 7 million patients will be losing their plans. Which is close enough for government promises.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Thursday, January 27th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

4 Responses to “Medicare Actuary Undercuts HCR Claims”

  1. Foster was asked by Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., for a simple true or false response
    On the costs issue, “I would say false, more so than true,” Foster responded.
    I guess it depends on what your definition of the word “OR” is.

    I love that it is the responsibility of Foster’s group to make long-range cost estimates. That’s what they do. And yet the White House, well known for it’s uncanny prognostications in years gone by when it comes to all things “money”, predicts that Foster (the professional cost estimator) will be proven wrong about the health care law. Well, I don’t need to hear any more than that. I mean Obama predicts ?????, then it must be true, right?

    That twitch in my eye is coming back again…

  2. proreason

    don’t forget those 7,000 people who now have their pre-conditions covered…for a fortune.

  3. retire05

    This is just another redistribution of wealth, only this time it is taking money from seniors who have paid into the Medicare system their entire working lives. Only by cutting benefits to seniors, can Obama, and his minons, cover all these uninsured people.

    Already seniors in doctor friendly Texas are finding it hard to get a doctor that will accept their Medicare/Medicaid benefits. 52% of Texas doctors will not take M/M patients as they have to treat those patients at a loss. So seniors, who are moving to Texas due to our lack of state income tax and our resonable housing costs, are finding they many have to drive many miles just to find a General Practioner who will accept them, even though medical costs, due to enacted tort reform, have come down in Texas.

    One of the steps that could be taken is allowing seniors to chose their primary insurer. Those seniors who retired from a company that provides medical insurance as part of their retirement package, should be allowed to use those insurance companies as their primary insurers, with Medicare/Medicaid as secondary. But in the wisdom of a previous Democrat held Congress, M/M must act as the primary provider with any other insurer as secondary. But it gets worse; secondary insurers are allowed to limit benefits to the same benefit levels as M/M, therefore reducing the amount of benefits they actually pay.

  4. Liberals Demise

    Correct me if I’m wrong here but isn’t the number of uninsured in America somewhere around 50 million or more?
    I thought the whole idea of this boondoggle was to insure “ALL” Americans.
    Our problem is directly tied to the influx of illegals who get free health care on the State and Federal level. Now toss in free food and the other asininities that these freeloaders (leeches) suck from the system.
    By all means, lets’ not fix what’s wrong. Noooooooooooo ………


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