CBO contradicts Obama on healthcare – again

This is getting to be a pattern:

WASHINGTON – Congress’ chief budget officer on Tuesday contradicted President Barack Obama’s oft-stated claim that seniors wouldn’t see their Medicare benefits cut under a health care overhaul.

The head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf, told senators that seniors in Medicare’s managed care plans could see reduced benefits under a bill in the Finance Committee.

The bill would cut payments to the Medicare Advantage plans by more than $100 billion over 10 years.

Elmendorf said the changes “would reduce the extra benefits that would be made available to beneficiaries through Medicare Advantage plans.”

Finance Committee aides emphasized that core Medicare benefits wouldn’t be cut because the plans are required to offer the benefits available under traditional Medicare fee-for-service coverage.

Federal subsidies to private Medicare plans average about 14 percent higher than those involved in fee-for-service coverage. The health care bills pending in Congress would reduce or eliminate the difference in part by introducing a competitive bidding system to pay the plans. The private plans cover around 25 percent of Medicare beneficiaries.

The Finance Committee bill along with other health care legislation in Congress would cut around $500 billion in projected Medicare payments to providers over a decade, including around $125 billion from Medicare Advantage.

Obama has pushed the cuts to providers even while repeatedly insisting they won’t reduce seniors’ benefits. “Nobody is talking about cutting Medicare benefits,” Obama said during an online AARP forum in July.

Ed Morrissey, noting that Elmendorf is not the only one in DC contradicting Team Obama’s lies about cuts, adds:

Only an idiot would conclude that $500 billion in cuts to Medicare over 10 years would mean no reduction in benefits. We budgeted $413 billion for this year, which makes a $50 billion “savings” target about 12% of its budget. Obama keeps talking about how efficient Medicare is compared to private health insurance, but how efficient can it be if he can slice 12% out of the budget without affecting benefits? In comparison, private health insurers spend 96.7% of all income on care and administrative costs, with only a 3.3% average profit margin.

Elmendorf is speaking not just from hard data but also common sense. Any attempt to get that level of “savings” from Medicare will necessarily cut the benefits going to its recipients. Trying to cast that as a myth is either an indication of mathematical incompetence, political dishonesty, or both. It’s also worth noting that when previous administrations attempted to cut Medicare spending by much lower amounts, Democrats would scream from the rafters about Republicans trying to steal Medicare away from seniors. In this case, the CBO confirms that Democrats have engaged in projection.

Absolutely. And I will also note that most of the so-called “efficiency” of Medicare comes on the administrative end. If Obama were telling the truth that care wouldn’t be “cut” under his plan, then that would mean the “savings” would have to come from the administrative end – which would hurt the efficiency numbers which would, down the line, impact the quality of care as well.

Where the administration really needs to focus is on the waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare that costs this country billions every year. They’ve paid the issue lip service, but as I’ve noted before, their real goal isn’t to combat abuse in Medicare – think about it: if it was their goal to combat Medicare waste and fraud, they wouldn’t be advocating for more government control over it. Their emphasis is going to be primarily on the “EOL counseling” – code for “you’re too old/sick and not worth saving,” taxing private health insurance companies out of business, and on forcing those who don’t sign up for any healthcare plan after all is said and done with this bill into paying a “fine.”

Lastly, I find it interesting that Obama now has his wife out there giving speeches about how ObamaCare is a “woman’s issue” because women are allegedly being “crushed” by our current healthcare system. Why interesting? Consider her active involvement in a patient-dumping scheme in Chicago, an appalling issue that has generated next to no MSM attention:

The First Lady helped create a notorious program that dumped poor patients on community hospitals, yet the national media ignore the story. Imagine if her husband were a Republican.

The University of Chicago Medical Center has received a good deal of justly opprobrious press over its policy of “redirecting” low-income patients to community hospitals while reserving its own beds for well-heeled patients requiring highly profitable procedures. Substantial coverage was given to a recent indictment of the program by the American College of Emergency Physicians. ACEP’s president, Dr. Nick Jouriles, released a statement suggesting that the initiative comes “dangerously close to ‘patient dumping,’ a practice made illegal by the Emergency Medical Labor and Treatment Act, and reflected an effort to ‘cherry pick’ wealthy patients over poor.”

Oddly absent from most of the unflattering press coverage of UCMC’s patient-dumping scheme is any mention of the role our new First Lady played in devising the program. A laudable exception has been the Chicago Sun-Times, which reported last August that “Michelle Obama — currently on unpaid leave from her $317,000-a-year job as a vice president of the prestigious hospital — helped create the program.”


Mrs. Obama first hatched the UCMC program as the “South Side Health Collaborative,” which featured a gang of “counselors” whose job it was to “advise” low-income patients that they would be better off at other hospitals and clinics. The program was so successful in getting rid of unwanted patients that she expanded it, gave it a new name, and hired none other than David Axelrod to sell the program to the public. According to the Sun-Times, “Obama’s wife and Valerie Jarrett, an Obama friend and adviser who chairs the medical center’s board, backed the Axelrod firm’s hiring.” Axelrod helped the future First Lady formulate a public relations campaign in which the “Urban Health Initiative” was represented as a boon to the community actuated by the purest of altruistic motives.

The resultant PR campaign was a study in Orwellian audacity. Chicago’s inner city residents soon began hearing that UCMC’s patient dumping program would “dramatically improve health care for thousands of South Side residents” and that the medical center was generously willing to provide “a ride on a shuttle bus to other centers.” Likewise, the people who ran the community hospitals to which these unwanted patients were being shuttled began to read claims in local media to the effect that the Urban Health Initiative was good for them as well. Dr. Eric Whitaker, the Blagojevich crony who succeeded Mrs. Obama as Director of the program, repeatedly assured gullible reporters that the financial impact on these hospitals would be positive: “The initiative actually is improving their bottom lines.” The CFOs of those hospitals were no doubt relieved to learn that treating Medicaid and uninsured patients is profitable.

That, along with this administration’s emphasis on savings among the elderly and the chronically ill – who ObamaCo emphasizes make up 80% of healthcare costs in this country, should make any starry-eyed lefty who still believes this administration “cares” about the health of the sick and less fortunate to seriously reconsider. I won’t hold my breath.

Related: Is the AARP getting “kickbacks” from ObamaCare?


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