4:17 PM, May 4, 2012 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
To the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase, and Gator Aid, President Obama has now added the Senior Swindle — a ploy to spend $8.35 billion in taxpayer money to hide the effects of Obamacare’s Medicare Advantage cuts until after the election. Under Obamacare, millions of seniors would lose their Medicare Advantage plans, as hundreds of billions of dollars that would have been spent on those plans would instead be spent on Obamacare. In fact, the Medicare chief actuary says that, within 5 years, Obamacare would cause the number of seniors on Medicare Advantage to be cut in half (in comparison to how things would have been without Obamacare — or how they would be if it’s repealed).
The Obama administration is claiming that this expenditure of $8.35 billion is legal because this money is being spent, the administration claims, on a legitimate “demonstration project” to help improve the implementation of current law. But, as a report recently released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) indicates, nothing about this “demonstration project” appears to have been designed to improve the implementation of current law. Rather, the project appears to have been designed to hide the effects of current law — by delaying the Medicare Advantage cuts — until after Obama’s reelection bid. By all appearances, this isn’t a demonstration project at all, but rather a reelection project financed at taxpayer expense.
In recent congressional testimony, Obama’s secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Kathleen Sebelius, was asked about the GAO report. In that report (see the link in the upper-right corner here), the nonpartisan GAO declares that the project — which would cost more than the previous 85 Medicare demonstration projects launched since the middle of the Clinton administration combined — is so riddled with “design shortcomings” that Sebelius “should cancel” it. Amidst a wide variety of concerns, the GAO notes that the project’s “quality bonuses,” which the administration says are designed to reward excellence, “mainly benefit average performing plans — those receiving 3-star and 3.5-star ratings [out of 5].”
When asked during her testimony about this GAO claim, Sebelius replied, “Well, it’s just not accurate.” Immediately thereafter, however, she essentially confirmed its accuracy, by saying, “The plans are rated 1-through-5 stars. The 3-, 4-, and 5-star programs have gotten some additional incentives to offer quality outcomes.” But as the GAO observes, 87 percent of all Medicare Advantage plans get 3 or more stars. In other words, all but the bottom 13 percent of plans get the “quality bonuses.” And “most” of those bonuses, according to the GAO, are going to 3-star or 3.5-star plans — that is, to “average performing plans.”
Why is any of this important? Because either this is a legitimate demonstration project, aimed at improving the execution of current law —which by all accounts it’s not — or else it’s a cynical and probably illegal ploy to spend billions in taxpayer dollars to help Obama win reelection. The Obama administration is either running by far the most expensive — and probably the most poorly designed — demonstration project on record, or else it’s taking $8.35 billion in taxpayer money — a colossal sum that’s roughly 40 times the amount Obama has raised so far for his campaign — and converting it into essentially a supplemental campaign fund for Obama.
On the heels of the GAO report, Sebelius’s testimony suggests that it’s the latter.
4:14 PM, Feb 14, 2012 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Mitt Romney's campaign is now targeting GOP rival Rick Santorum as a big-spending Washington insider. On a conference call Tuesday afternoon, former Missouri senator and Romney surrogate Jim Talent criticized Santorum’s support for expanding government spending, including his vote for the Medicare Part D in 2003—a program for which Talent himself voted.
9:35 AM, Mar 10, 2011 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
President Obama’s Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius professes to have acquired a newfound concern for Medicare Advantage, the popular program from which the Obama administration would loot more than a quarter of a trillion dollars during Obamacare’s real first decade (2014 to 2023).
An $8.5 million campaign.5:56 PM, Jan 4, 2011 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, are required by law to educate the public about important information regarding open enrollment for Medicare. But are they also required to reeducate us about the “benefits” of Obamacare?
7:31 AM, Jan 3, 2011 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
With the flipping of the calendar to January, we've now moved into the first year in which Obamacare will cut funding for the popular Medicare Advantage program. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that, in 2011, Obamacare will cut Medicare Advantage by $2 billion. According to the CBO, that $2 billion is the first part of the $638 billion that Obamacare, if not repealed, is poised to cut from Medicare and related federal programs over the next decade.
12:22 PM, Nov 17, 2010 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Providing a strong indication of how personal, accessible, understandable, user-friendly, customer-service-oriented, and not at all posthuman your health care would be under Obamacare, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has just released a 347-page, 118,072-word "rule" to implement parts of Obamacare affecting Medicare Advantage and the Medicare prescription drug benefit program.
3:04 PM, Sep 28, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
The Boston Globe reports:
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care has notified customers that it will drop its Medicare Advantage health insurance program at the end of the year, forcing 22,000 senior citizens in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine to seek alternative supplemental coverage.
Thank you, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rules Committee Chair Louise Slaughter.
12:32 PM, Mar 19, 2010 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Nancy Pelosi and Louise Slaughter have come up with a parliamentary maneuver -- "deem and pass" -- reeking of evasiveness and trickery that Democratic members are going to have to embrace. But it gets better! The point of "deem and pass" is to allow representatives to vote directly only on the reconciliation "fixes" rather than on the Senate health care bill (which will be deemed to be passed if reconciliation passes). But the reconciliation "fixes" make the Senate bill even more politically unattractive.
Here's what Democrats will be asked to vote for Sunday (thanks to Keith Hennessey for his useful list):
* Additional tax increases, on top of the ones in the Senate bill. The reconciliation bill raises the Medicare payroll tax by 0.9% to a combined employer-employee 3.8% for individuals with income over $200K and couples over $250K, and, beginning in 2013, creates a new 3.8% tax on some capital income from interest, dividends, annuities, royalties, and rents for those individuals and families.
* Even deeper cuts to Medicare Advantage, which will mean fewer and less attractive Medicare Advantage plans available to seniors.
Medicare Advantage and Massachusetts are two reasons for hope.11:56 AM, Jan 7, 2010 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
The estimable Allahpundit is pretty fatalistic about Obamacare: Nancy Pelosi says the House and Senate are "very close" to a deal, Obama's weighing in to pressure House Dems to accept something close to the Senate bill, you can't rely on Blanche Lincoln to stop it--and, so, "Dude, I think it's over."
If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, at least if you pay cash.12:00 AM, Jan 5, 2010 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
One of the many problems with funneling our nation's health-care system through our nation's political system is that it would politicize health care. The health-care bill that recently passed the Senate could hardly provide better evidence of this claim.
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