Here’s a shocking development. Conservative candidates were all wrong about Medicare. The last time they were this wrong was 2003.
One of the most significant savings envisioned in the new health- care law – limiting payments to the private health plans that cover 11 million older Americans under Medicare – is, so far, bringing little of the turbulence that the insurance industry and many Republicans predicted
Nearly a fourth of the participants are in Medicare Advantage, as the private part is known under a 2003 law. Enacted when Republicans controlled Congress and the White House, the law began three years later to give health plans more money as an incentive to offer extra benefits and, in turn, attract more Medicare patients.
For 2011, the reimbursements to health plans will be frozen at the same level as this year, meaning that the typical plan will be paid 10 percent more than rates to health-care providers in traditional Medicare in the same community – compared with13 percent higher in 2009.
You read that right. The typical Medicare Advantage plan costs Americans 13% more than traditional Medicare. Obama cut that 13% over-payment by 3%, by freezing rates this year. The payment cuts go up from there, sensibly and reasonably, because we’re over-paying.
The hysterical screeching we heard from Crossroads conservatives and the libertarian Koch brothers in the 2010 midterms about Democrats gutting Medicare? It was about cutting 3% off an over-payment of 13%. Clearly, the world was ending, and grandma was on life-support.
One GOP House committee aide said Republicans would like to restore some or all of the cuts and has asked for budget estimates on ways to offset them – but acknowledged that the $145 billion in expected savings “is a lot of money” in a climate of large federal deficits. Still, the aide said, “however we can get to the point of where every senior, no matter where they live in the country, will have a choice, that’s what we will work toward giving them.”
Conservative leaders will work towards giving every senior “a choice” between an entitlement program that costs the federal government less and one that costs the federal government more. The conservative version of the entitlement program costs more, but that’s immaterial. Rigid ideology trumps basic common sense, again.
When I think about all those newly elected Tea Party members of Congress and their solemn vow to cut spending, I have to laugh.
Think about this: there was 145 billion in absolute wasteful spending contained within a 2003 conservative initiative that can and will be reallocated to the uninsured with no harmful effects (so far). That’s how good conservatives are at cutting costs in health care. Their signature health care cost containment measure wound up costing us 145 billion more than the plain-vanilla public program, and, incredibly, they vow to reinstate funding for this absolute proven loser of an idea.
I have to agree with the GOP aide in the article. That’s a lot of money. Why Republicans threw it away should be the next question posed to that helpful aide, before we get to his solemn vow to throw it away again.