The money wasn’t walled off to stay in Medicare. Instead, the law turned Medicare into a piggy bank for Obamacare.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Ask the chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He works for the Obama administration, and his job is to look after your Medicare. Last year, we invited him to Congress to answer a simple question: If President Obama’s Medicare cuts were used to pay for new spending in Obamacare, how can they also improve Medicare’s solvency?
His answer? They can’t. It’s simple: You can’t spend the same dollar twice. His exact words were, “It takes two sets of money to make it happen.” President Obama spent one set on a government takeover of health care, and he never provided the other to strengthen Medicare.
So there it is, from the guy whose job it is to know. If anyone tries to tell you that Obamacare strengthened Medicare, just ask them, “Where’s the other $716 billion?”
But that’s not all the new health-care law did. You see, Medicare is going bankrupt. Everyone understands this. Even President Obama said last year, “If you look at the numbers, Medicare in particular will run out of money, and we will not be able to sustain that program no matter how much taxes go up.”
So the disagreement isn’t about the problem. It’s about the solution. You might have heard about the approach Mitt Romney and I would take, which I will lay out for you. But you probably haven’t heard much about what President Obama would do. The President doesn’t talk much about what Obamacare will really mean for seniors. And anyone who understands the details knows why: People don’t like it.
The President’s health-care law set up something called the Independent Payment Advisory Board. It will be made up of 15 unelected bureaucrats. The President has said he will appoint “experts,” but none of the fifteen are required by law to have any medical training.
And here’s the thing: As Medicare spending grows, this board is required to cut it. Unless Congress overrides these cuts with a supermajority vote, they automatically become law.
Think about what this means. I know AARP was just involved in the annual debate over the so-called “doc fix.” Back in 1997, Democrats and Republicans agreed to a budget deal that included large reductions in fees for doctors who treat Medicare patients.
Well, it soon became clear that these cuts would make it impossible for many doctors to keep treating Medicare patients. So every year, like clockwork, Congress postpones the cuts.
Some of us learned a lesson from that experience: Top-down, bureaucratic cuts to Medicare just don’t work. Providers stop providing care.