CBO: Medicare cuts mean benefit cuts

posted at 8:48 am on September 23, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

What happens when a mythbuster gets exposed as a mythmaker?  Barack Obama has insisted that people who claim that $500 billion in “savings” from Medicare won’t mean any reduction in benefits.  Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, says that simply isn’t true.  The cuts to Medicare Advantage, which comprise one-fifth of those savings, means reduced benefits for the 25% of seniors using the program (via Instapundit):

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.”

And Elmendorf wasn’t the only one admitting this on Capitol Hill yesterday.  During the markup session in the Senate, staffer Shawn Bishop testified to the same thing:

SHAWN BISHOP, SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE PROFESSIONAL STAFF MEMBER: “The $113 billion dollars is a reduction in the extra benefits, the added, additional benefits that Medicare Advantage enrollees have available to them. And those benefits come in the form of vision, dental, reduced hospital deductible. It’s unstatutory, it’s unlawful for any Medicare Advantage plan to reduce the AB covered benefit that they provide. That’s by statute. They have to provide that. They are going to have a reduction in the added benefits that they have in Medicare Advantage. So there’s a reduction in benefits but its additional extra benefits that they have above what they’re entitled to by law on the fee for service side.” (Finance Committee, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 9/22/09)

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.

And what happens in the media when the CBO exposes the President as a mythmaker, not a mythbuster?  Well, it’s like the proverbial tree in the forest.  None of the major newspapers covered the story that ObamaCare means cuts in Medicare benefits.  Not one.


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None of the major newspapers covered the story that ObamaCare means cuts in Medicare benefits. Not one.

Nothing to see here.

These aren’t the cut you’re looking for.

Move along.

/’journalist’ mind trick mode

VelvetElvis on September 23, 2009 at 8:52 AM

when the CBO exposes the President as a mythmaker,

Ed: It’s alot more intellectually honest to just call him a liar.

BigD on September 23, 2009 at 8:53 AM

I guess Joe Wilson should’ve shouted “that simply isn’t true!” Then all the fuss would’ve gone away, right? Meh.

LoneStarGal on September 23, 2009 at 8:53 AM

Ahhhh, but the cost savings part of this scheme DOES make sense if you get rid of “unnecessary” seniors.

You need to read between the lines.

Bishop on September 23, 2009 at 8:53 AM

What bad news for AARP, which has been telling it’s members for months that people claiming that the proposals would not reduce the popular Medicare Advantage program were lying.

Now, who’s lying?

TXUS on September 23, 2009 at 8:55 AM

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.

I’ll take both for 200, Alex.

a capella on September 23, 2009 at 8:55 AM

Well,the papers are going to have to look at it once conservatives push them into it.They sure love the ostrich game:)

ohiobabe on September 23, 2009 at 8:57 AM

Rationing.

txhsmom on September 23, 2009 at 8:58 AM

….None of the major newspapers covered the story that ObamaCare means cuts in Medicare benefits. Not one. – Ed

Pretty prescient of those newspapers, actually, considering how Obama’s Justice Dept will most likely take them to task like Humana?

marybel on September 23, 2009 at 8:58 AM

Only an idiot would conclude that $500 billion in cuts to Medicare over 10 years would mean no reduction in benefits.

OBAMA=IDIOT

cmsinaz on September 23, 2009 at 9:02 AM

“You create myths!”

mankai on September 23, 2009 at 9:02 AM

And what happens in the media when the CBO exposes the President as a mythmaker, not a mythbuster? Well, it’s like the proverbial tree in the forest. None of the major newspapers covered the story that ObamaCare means cuts in Medicare benefits. Not one.

AND, if he was considered a mythbuster, they would be singing from the rooftops…
propping him up til the bitter end

*sigh*

cmsinaz on September 23, 2009 at 9:04 AM

You sir, are a producer of non-factuals!

Bishop on September 23, 2009 at 9:05 AM

I admit to being frightened by the level of press conformity with the Obama administration. I have seen nothing like it in my lifetime, counting both Democratic and Republican administrations. This is just plain creepy.

jwolf on September 23, 2009 at 9:05 AM

OK, that does it. Obama needs to get a cease and desist letter over to the CBO and open an investigation.

YOU CAN’T SAY THAT!!!!!

Pablo on September 23, 2009 at 9:05 AM

What bad news for AARP, which has been telling it’s members for months that people claiming that the proposals would not reduce the popular Medicare Advantage program were lying.

Now, who’s lying?

TXUS on September 23, 2009 at 8:55 AM

Except that AARP will be allowed to continue to lie, but Humana will be censored for telling the truth. And the MSM will go along.

Wethal on September 23, 2009 at 9:06 AM

CBO is racist!

rbj on September 23, 2009 at 9:06 AM

Douglas Elmendorf is a racist, plain and simple.

ouldbollix on September 23, 2009 at 9:10 AM

why are you still worried about all of this? Doncha know that the adults are in charge now? /s

gatorboy on September 23, 2009 at 9:10 AM

Elmendorf is speaking not just from hard data but also common sense.

that won’t fly in this adminstration…

cmsinaz on September 23, 2009 at 9:11 AM

Deep Hurting

Jeff from WI on September 23, 2009 at 9:11 AM

In other words, Humana was telling the truth to its customers!

Medicare Advantage also offers other benefits that regular Medicare doesn’t. These include some very effective programs to manage chronic diseases like diabetes and Parkinson’s. My father-in-law is in one of these programs, which provides on-site day care, physical therapy, and mental exercises. This has dramatically improved his Parkinson’s symptoms and accompanying depression, while also relieving my mother-in-law of the stress of caring for him at home 24/7. It has probably prevented him having to enter a nursing home, which would be three times as expensive. He is 80 years old now and has little money, and will not be able to afford this program if he loses his Medicare Advantage policy or this program gets cut from its benefits.

This will happen to thousands if this bill passes. Many more Seniors will end up in nursing homes, paid by Medicaid at triple the cost. And I don’t even know if my father-in-law will get that, because he lives in Massachusetts and the state’s Medicaid program is broke thanks to RomneyCare. I can see states beginning to deny payment for nursing home care in a few more years. Then the pressure for assisted suicide will really start.

rockmom on September 23, 2009 at 9:12 AM

Numbers are hard.

MDWNJ on September 23, 2009 at 9:12 AM

Related parody: “Democrats Push Greenbacks for Geezers Program” http://optoons.blogspot.com/2009/08/democrats-push-greenbacks-for-geezers.html

Mervis Winter on September 23, 2009 at 9:12 AM

So, in other words, the CBO is saying “You lie!”

Mojave Mark on September 23, 2009 at 9:12 AM

Except that AARP will be allowed to continue to lie, but Humana will be censored for telling the truth. And the MSM will go along.
Wethal on September 23, 2009 at 9:06 AM

I join you in finding the Humana censoring beyond chilling … and there is no outrage? Where are the First Admendment protections?

Obama the Socialist is definitely overplaying both his hand and his role. I am incensed.

marybel on September 23, 2009 at 9:13 AM

The seniors who’ve been paying attention already understand this . . . they’re old, not stupid.

But hey, why not cut Medicare benefits for seniors (who’ve been paying Medicare taxes all their working lives) so that we can provide more free healthcare for millions of poor illegal aliens who’ve never paid a dime into the system? That’s what “social justice” is all about . . . and we’re all for “social justice” aren’t we?

AZCoyote on September 23, 2009 at 9:13 AM

I can’t wait to hear how the liberal trolls will discuss to take us off point.

Boooossshhh Lied!

barnone on September 23, 2009 at 9:14 AM

None of the major newspapers covered the story that ObamaCare means cuts in Medicare benefits. Not one.

Why would a “major newspaper” want to print something that would expose this socialist agenda?

From Dana–I love these democrats–Milbank:

Baucus made major concessions to Republicans: He dropped the “public option” for a government-run health plan; he tossed aside the mandate that employers provide health coverage; he cut the bill’s cost and made sure it was all funded by revenue from within the health-care system; he stipulated that government funds would not go for abortion or to illegal immigrants; and he included efforts to curtail medical malpractice awards.

And what does Baucus have to show for his concessions? One by one Tuesday, Republicans delivered the same thanks-but-no-thanks message.”

Oh really Dana? Did you get the memo from the CBO yet?

Then Baucus says:

“My door is always open,” Baucus replied. “I hope we can find a way where you and others can be part of this moment in history.”

Here’s a way Mr. Baucus, scrap the bill and start over with serious tort reform, otherwise, Historically speaking, thanks, but no thanks.

Rovin on September 23, 2009 at 9:15 AM

The CBO was using the wrong dictionary when they compiled that report. Ogabe’s personal dictionary says everything will be fine, just as he claims it will.

Bishop on September 23, 2009 at 9:15 AM

In 2010, you’re gonna see some ANGRY old people at the polls!

SuperCool on September 23, 2009 at 9:16 AM

In other words, Humana was telling the truth to its customers!
rockmom on September 23, 2009 at 9:12 AM

Rock solid about Humana and really important points about Medicare Advantage. You rock, rockmom!

marybel on September 23, 2009 at 9:17 AM

Numbers don’t lie…the lies are reserved for our politicians

PatriotRider on September 23, 2009 at 9:19 AM

I sure hope that cutting medicare benefits to our seniors doesn’t result in death panels again.

I can’t see how you can cut costs with out denying benefits. You may not need the counciling for the panels it will just be included in your new plan.

Brat4life on September 23, 2009 at 9:20 AM

Snake oil salesman.

petefrt on September 23, 2009 at 9:22 AM

Following up on the non-existant tort reform Democrats refuse to write into this bill:

Since Mississippi passed lawsuit abuse reform in 2004, including caps on medical malpractice awards, the Magnolia State has seen the number of such claims decline 91 percent. The state’s largest medical malpractice insurer dropped its premiums by 42 percent, and it has offered an additional 20 percent rebate to doctors and hospitals of the premiums they pay each year.

Following his recent address to a joint session of Congress, President Obama announced plans to implement token “demonstration projects” on lawsuit abuse, but he’s still not willing to address the issue meaningfully in health care reform legislation. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican, has a message for him: “If they want a demonstration project, come down to Mississippi. I’ll show you a demonstration project.” LINK

Until Obama and Democrats get out of bed with trial lawyers, nothing written in this current legislation can be taken seriously.

Rovin on September 23, 2009 at 9:35 AM

And please, CBO, don’t even START to talk about Nancy Pelosi’s “savings” from fraud, waste, and abuse.

I’ve been hearing that tired, useless, piece of junk canard for the last 40 years. Fix FW&A NOW, then let’s talk.

Less money plus more people MEANS rationing, pure and simple.

Best analogy re health care reform I read somewhere yesterday…You don’t tear down a perfectly serviceable house (health care system) just because you hate the color of the front door.

marybel on September 23, 2009 at 9:35 AM

Humana needs to FIGHT the CMS and HHS for trying to cut off their mailer

they need to CITE the Senate staffer and CBO on their mailers

ginaswo on September 23, 2009 at 9:36 AM

This is not a knock on Ed or anyone else, but I don’t think that focusing so much on the details will really do anything.

I mean it’s good to just keep showing that Obama is a liar, but that’s really all we should be focusing on. Keep showing him as a liar and destroy his credibility.

MobileVideoEngineer on September 23, 2009 at 9:36 AM

This is exactly why so many seniors are pissed.

Medicare Advantage plans allow seniors to keep working with an insurance company, doctors, and a system that they are comfortable and familiar with – even once they are on Medicare. Those plans offer people the kinds of extra benefits they are used to receiving from their private insurers.

My mom had Blue Cross…when she because eligible for Medicare she switched to one of BCBS’s Medicare Advantage plans. The transition was smooth, which made her feel alot more at ease.

Meezles on September 23, 2009 at 9:39 AM

Until Obama and Democrats get out of bed with trial lawyers, nothing written in this current legislation can be taken seriously.
Rovin on September 23, 2009 at 9:35 AM

Absolutely GREAT link, Rovin. Thanks.

marybel on September 23, 2009 at 9:39 AM

I wrote here that President Obama & his single-payer allies can’t have it both ways. People like me noticed when President Obama’s single-payer allies said, ad nauseum, that single-payer is the most efficient system in the world. I also noticed that President Obama said that he’d cut $500,000,000,000 worth of waste out of Medicare’s single-payer system.

How do you square the cirle that says that there’s half a trillion dollars in waste in Medicare but that it’s the most efficient health insurance system in the world?

LFRGary on September 23, 2009 at 9:41 AM

I admit to being frightened by the level of press conformity with the Obama administration. I have seen nothing like it in my lifetime, counting both Democratic and Republican administrations. This is just plain creepy.

jwolf on September 23, 2009 at 9:05 AM

I am convinced that a great many of them really do not understand issues well enough to write about them. The actual journalism staffs have been slashed to a dangerous level.

AnninCA on September 23, 2009 at 9:41 AM

I sure hope that cutting medicare benefits to our seniors doesn’t result in death panels again.

I can’t see how you can cut costs with out denying benefits. You may not need the counciling for the panels it will just be included in your new plan.

Brat4life on September 23, 2009 at 9:20 AM

There already is a “death panel” and it has been associated with Medicare since that program’s inception.

The obvious question here is that with $100M in reductions, will the reductions be made in a fashion which streamlines operations (cuts the red tape), or will it be made in a fashion which further cuts benefits to the recipients of Medicare?

Given that bureaucracy loves its sinecures, the answer is obvious. ObamaCare would extend the power of the current Medicare “death panel” over all of us, with the same ineffiencies and limitations.

unclesmrgol on September 23, 2009 at 9:42 AM

This is not a knock on Ed or anyone else, but I don’t think that focusing so much on the details will really do anything.

I mean it’s good to just keep showing that Obama is a liar, but that’s really all we should be focusing on. Keep showing him as a liar and destroy his credibility.

MobileVideoEngineer on September 23, 2009 at 9:36 AM

I think opposite. Americans are done with the generalizations. That frankly applies to both sides. Ideology is great in small doses.

We are ready for the actual impact on our lives. In my opinion, that is why Obama won’t see any benefit for his PR Tour. We’ve heard it all. We know the general stuff.

Tell us the details. And then, we’ll see.

AnninCA on September 23, 2009 at 9:43 AM

Read respected liberal Nat Hentoff’s column. He reminds me of my 66 year old brother who has supported every liberal since Adlai Stevenson. My brother has been a cheer leader for government run health care for 45 years, but now that he may actually forced to subject himself to it, he’s having second thoughts.

Hentoff is at http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/hentoff092309.php3

oldleprechaun on September 23, 2009 at 9:43 AM

The seniors who’ve been paying attention already understand this . . . they’re old, not stupid.

But hey, why not cut Medicare benefits for seniors (who’ve been paying Medicare taxes all their working lives) so that we can provide more free healthcare for millions of poor illegal aliens who’ve never paid a dime into the system? That’s what “social justice” is all about . . . and we’re all for “social justice” aren’t we?

AZCoyote on September 23, 2009 at 9:13 AM

I agree. They figured it out. And they have every right to information about this from their providers. So long as the fliers aren’t strictly political puffery, the threats to Humana are NOTHING but political posturing that is going to backfire badly on Dems.

Congress has done a terrible job of discussing the specific impact of their ideas on real people. They will not be loved if they cut off sources of information.

AnninCA on September 23, 2009 at 9:46 AM

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.

Pre-emptive troll strike. I like it.

Vashta.Nerada on September 23, 2009 at 9:47 AM

…but how efficient can it be if he can slice 12% out of the budget without affecting benefits?

Great point, Ed!

catmman on September 23, 2009 at 9:49 AM

I just gotta ask: WHY does Obama hate seniors so much?

Is it some psycho thing he has about his parents or something?

Seriously.

B Man on September 23, 2009 at 9:50 AM

The fact is that benefits will be reduced. And reality is that seniors aren’t going to like it, either, in some cases. If they would tell us WHICH benefits are being abused, why, etc., I think it might help. I do agree that there are doctors abusing this program, calling for unnecessary procedures.

And I’d have NO problem in seeing a government results-oriented program developed, similar to what we have for diabetes.

But jeesh*…it would be nice to see some proactivity rather than handling it through slashing of money.

AnninCA on September 23, 2009 at 9:50 AM

considering how Obama’s Justice Dept will most likely take them to task like Humana?

marybel on September 23, 2009 at 8:58 AM

This makes me think that the government did force BofA to purchase Merrill under threat.

I actually couldn’t believe when I saw the HHS chastising Humana for explaining to its clients what will happen if this bill goes through. Basically what will happen is what I’ve been saying for 5 years. . . the insurance companies won’t offer Medicare Advantage plans anymore.

MA plans were intended to reduce the government’s liability for Medicare. MA put the medical liability on the private industry to keep Medicare itself solvent.

When you cut the 100 B, you take people off of MA plans (that evil insurance companies profit off of). But you put those people right back on the liability sheet of Medicare.

Cutting Medicare Advantage will NOT provide savings to the government. Cutting Medicare Advantage will INCREASE costs to Medicare.

Of course, I recommend getting a traditional supplement with Mutual of Omaha anyway. With Medicare and a 75 dollare a month plan F from Mutual of Omaha, you go anywhere and pay no co payment and no deductible. Call me if you want to switch.

ThackerAgency on September 23, 2009 at 9:52 AM

The death panels are back, or at the very least the recognition that there will be rationing.

kcarpenter on September 23, 2009 at 9:53 AM

How “OLD” is Michelle’s mother? Is Obama trying to get rid of her faster?

PappaMac on September 23, 2009 at 9:55 AM

oldleprechaun on September 23, 2009 at 9:43 AM

That Henthoff link was stunning.

Lots of HA commenters doing some pretty good research this morning!

marybel on September 23, 2009 at 9:56 AM

But jeesh*…it would be nice to see some proactivity rather than handling it through slashing of money.

AnninCA on September 23, 2009 at 9:50 AM

But this is the problem Ann. Even if the ‘cut’ this money for Medicare Advantage, it won’t save any money for the government.

What the Obama administration and the government WANTS to do is cut their payments to these insurance companies (who doesn’t want to stick it to the evil insurance companies?)

The administration wants to say, ‘the government won’t be cutting your benefits, the insurance companies will’.

The narrative Congress wants you to take from their cutting the payments to insurance companies providing MA plans is it is the evil insurance companies who are cutting your benefits, not the government.

This argument was set up as soon as the created the MA plans and it was never going to work. . . but it was always inevitable.

ThackerAgency on September 23, 2009 at 9:57 AM

I do agree that there are doctors abusing this program, calling for unnecessary procedures.
AnninCA on September 23, 2009 at 9:50 AM

They are ONLY UNNECESSARY PROCEDURES if your not the one paying the Malpractice Insurance Premiums.

PappaMac on September 23, 2009 at 9:59 AM

The fact is that benefits will be reduced.

Or, private insurers will be forced to increase the premiums they charge for Medicare Advantage Plans. There really isn’t any other option. They’ll have to eliminate Advantage Plans or charge more for them. It’s as simple as that.

Meezles on September 23, 2009 at 10:00 AM

They’ll have to eliminate Advantage Plans or charge more for them. It’s as simple as that.

Meezles on September 23, 2009 at 10:00 AM

exactly.

But the beauty from the governments’ perspective is once they get these cuts to MA through, they just blame the insurance companies for cutting benefits and raising rates.

They never told you that the government was going to pay subsidies to the insurance companies for these plans. . . it just happened that way under the radar. People didn’t know. Insurance companies are not going to allow the government to take these payments away without shouting from the rooftops (appropriately).

ThackerAgency on September 23, 2009 at 10:02 AM

Following up on the non-existant tort reform Democrats refuse to write into this bill:

Since Mississippi passed lawsuit abuse reform in 2004, including caps on medical malpractice awards, the Magnolia State has seen the number of such claims decline 91 percent. The state’s largest medical malpractice insurer dropped its premiums by 42 percent, and it has offered an additional 20 percent rebate to doctors and hospitals of the premiums they pay each year.

Following his recent address to a joint session of Congress, President Obama announced plans to implement token “demonstration projects” on lawsuit abuse, but he’s still not willing to address the issue meaningfully in health care reform legislation. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican, has a message for him: “If they want a demonstration project, come down to Mississippi. I’ll show you a demonstration project.” LINK
Until Obama and Democrats get out of bed with trial lawyers, nothing written in this current legislation can be taken seriously.

Rovin on September 23, 2009 at 9:35 AM

Does anyone have any idea if the Baucus bill will include a preemption provision that would mean that the states like Mississippi and Texas that have enacted meaningful tort reform will have their laws preempted so tort reform will actually go backwards?

txmomof6 on September 23, 2009 at 10:03 AM

I think opposite. Americans are done with the generalizations. That frankly applies to both sides. Ideology is great in small doses.

We are ready for the actual impact on our lives. In my opinion, that is why Obama won’t see any benefit for his PR Tour. We’ve heard it all. We know the general stuff.

Tell us the details. And then, we’ll see.

AnninCA on September 23, 2009 at 9:43 AM

It’s not about ideology for me. We’re at a strange point in history right now. I can see that the tide is trying to turn in the fact that people are starting to see that the R and D don’t matter anymore, but at the same time I think the progressives and the people behind the scenes already have too much power to actually have the tide turn.

MobileVideoEngineer on September 23, 2009 at 10:04 AM

I just gotta ask: WHY does Obama hate seniors so much?

Is it some psycho thing he has about his parents or something?

Seriously.

B Man on September 23, 2009 at 9:50 AM

(a) It’s where the money is.

(b) Dems think AARP actually represents a majority of seniors and will make sure they stay on the Democrat plantation in the next elections.

(c) Medicare Advantage was a creation of the Bush Administration, so it HAS to be bad. Liberals want a public option for younger people to “encourage competition,” but they don’t want a private option for Medicare. It’s colossal hypocrisy, but they don’t care.

rockmom on September 23, 2009 at 10:04 AM

Does anyone have any idea if the Baucus bill will include a preemption provision that would mean that the states like Mississippi and Texas that have enacted meaningful tort reform will have their laws preempted so tort reform will actually go backwards?

txmomof6 on September 23, 2009 at 10:03 AM

Democrats wrote it, so I assume they will try to slip something in.

Vashta.Nerada on September 23, 2009 at 10:04 AM

Does anyone have any idea if the Baucus bill will include a preemption provision that would mean that the states like Mississippi and Texas that have enacted meaningful tort reform will have their laws preempted so tort reform will actually go backwards?

txmomof6 on September 23, 2009 at 10:03 AM

Not right now, but it isn’t for lack of trying. Waxman had stuck a provision in his bill allowing qui tam lawsuits – which means any lawyer can file suit against a private insurer to “enforce the law.” This would have been a gravy train for trial lawyers. Republicans ferreted it out and made Waxman delete it. But stuff like this is going to be shoved into the conference report at the end, you can be sure.

rockmom on September 23, 2009 at 10:07 AM

Or, private insurers will be forced to increase the premiums they charge for Medicare Advantage Plans. There really isn’t any other option. They’ll have to eliminate Advantage Plans or charge more for them. It’s as simple as that.

Meezles on September 23, 2009 at 10:00 AM

They can’t. Medicare caps their premiums. They will have to reduce benefits and most seniors will choose to drop the plans as a result and go with conventional Medigap plans (the largest of which, ahem, is run by AARP.) Democrats know this. They aren’t dumb enough to propose an outright repeal of Medicare Advantage but they know they can squeeze it enough that it will become unpopular with seniors.

rockmom on September 23, 2009 at 10:11 AM

Does anyone have any idea if the Baucus bill will include a preemption provision that would mean that the states like Mississippi and Texas that have enacted meaningful tort reform will have their laws preempted so tort reform will actually go backwards?

txmomof6 on September 23, 2009 at 10:03 AM

Are you serious? Can you find me a link to this preemption provision? A provision of this magnetude would have a huge impact on this debate. I’ll do some searching on my own, but if you’ve got a link already, please forward it—-and thanks txmom.

Rovin on September 23, 2009 at 10:12 AM

How “OLD” is Michelle’s mother? Is Obama trying to get rid of her faster?

PappaMac on September 23, 2009 at 9:55 AM

Heh. How far did that apple fall from the tree?

“I love Michelle, but she’s killing me with this constant criticism She just seems so bitter, so angry all the time.”

That, btw, is a totally racist thing to say. ‘Course, he said it to a typical white person, so there you go.

Pablo on September 23, 2009 at 10:12 AM

Not right now, but it isn’t for lack of trying. Waxman had stuck a provision in his bill allowing qui tam lawsuits – which means any lawyer can file suit against a private insurer to “enforce the law.” This would have been a gravy train for trial lawyers. Republicans ferreted it out and made Waxman delete it. But stuff like this is going to be shoved into the conference report at the end, you can be sure.

rockmom on September 23, 2009 at 10:07 AM

If this happens, the trial lawyers in the 39 states that have enacted tort reform will have a heyday and the tort related costs to the healthcare system will skyrocket.

txmomof6 on September 23, 2009 at 10:13 AM

Rovin on September 23, 2009 at 10:12 AM

I don’t know if it is in there, but I think 1)Dems would want it and 2)I agree it would have major implications.

txmomof6 on September 23, 2009 at 10:15 AM

But stuff like this is going to be shoved into the conference report at the end, you can be sure.

rockmom on September 23, 2009 at 10:07 AM

Or hidden in an earmark? I’m learning more from “moms” this morning than I could from any politician.

Rovin on September 23, 2009 at 10:17 AM

I’m learning more from “moms” this morning than I could from any politician.

Rovin on September 23, 2009 at 10:17 AM

IMHO I think our country would be better served with more moms and grandmoms in congress than politicians, but of course we’d have to give up doing valuable work that actually benefits society.

txmomof6 on September 23, 2009 at 10:24 AM

What’s the over/under in weeks for Mr. Elmendorf seeking employment.

BobMbx on September 23, 2009 at 10:31 AM

Well it’s obvious the CBO is a racist organization.

notagool on September 23, 2009 at 10:49 AM

I am convinced that a great many of them really do not understand issues well enough to write about them. The actual journalism staffs have been slashed to a dangerous level.

AnninCA on September 23, 2009 at 9:41 AM

That has never stopped them from pontificating on other things they don’t understand. Epic fail Ann.

chemman on September 23, 2009 at 10:52 AM

rockmom on September 23, 2009 at 10:11 AM

That explains a lot. No wonder AARP is on board with this POS.

Meezles on September 23, 2009 at 10:52 AM

And when the cuts in service are revealed, they’ll be too terrible for the Democrats to possibly implement, so they’ll raise taxes to cover the gap instead.

Which is pretty much the plan from the git go.

Terry_Dyne on September 23, 2009 at 11:03 AM

2/3 of physicians will at least consider retiring, closing their practices, or practicing in another country. 1/3 are over 50, and may be in a position to retire. Because of the long training, many doctors are over 30 before they can even begin to practice.

If half of them, 1/6, were to retire, the present shortage would become acute, and continue to deteriorate, because it will no longer be an attractive career. I couldn’t blame any physician for making that decision.

Haven’t seen anything about nurses and ancillary staff, mostly salaried. Stories from the UK and Canada indicate they are so overworked that they burn out.

The prospect of waiting, who knows how long, to see an overworked, underpaid, and discouraged physician is not enticing.

jodetoad on September 23, 2009 at 11:23 AM

This subject came up after my ‘old but spry LOL’ gym class this AM. The folks who were part of the discussion agreed to a person that Medicare would probably be less effective and cost more eventually under Obama’s plan. None saw it as an advantage for seniors. None of these were in Medicare Advantage though. One of the larger concerns was the future of drug coverage for seniors. There seems to be little discussion of Part D, and many were deeply concerned since, in many(most?) cases, drugs are more expensive over the course of a year than doctor or hospital visits. In general, I have to report that this group was not at all happy with the health care bill as it stands and most felt they were not hearing the truth.

jeanie on September 23, 2009 at 12:13 PM

Just noted that the terrorists in Denver were charged with “lying to the FBI”. Since Obama and his communist Democommies lie to the American people about virtually everything they are saying, any one charged with lying should be released until the government quits lying to us! Fair is Fair! If Obama can lie with reckless abandon and no accountability, then so should every one else! Why is it not a crime if the government lies? Everything about Obama is a LIE! He should be charged too!

Marco on September 23, 2009 at 2:31 PM