[StBernard] Morning Bell: Exposing the Obamacare Shell Game

Westley Annis Westley at da-parish.com
Mon Oct 19 20:04:38 EDT 2009

If Rahm Emanuel would say the Pope is Catholic, I might start to believe
otherwise. Rahm Emanuel is a true product of the corrupt, thug Chicago
political system.


-----Original Message-----
MONDAY, OCT 19, 2009

Exposing the Obamacare Shell Game

In his primetime health care address
20:891BFC98E2A0A1F26212E7996BE25AE8> before a Joint Session of Congress,
President Barack Obama promised the American people: “I will not sign a plan
that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future. Period.”
But it is hard work adding $1 trillion in government spending while claiming
with a straight face that you are not adding to the deficit. Enter White
House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel who has just the solution
20:891BFC98E2A0A1F26212E7996BE25AE8> : just strip out $247 billion of the
spending in the bill, pass it separately, and voila
your job just got
one-fourth easier.

The specific issue at hand is the centrally planned price control regime
20:891BFC98E2A0A1F26212E7996BE25AE8> the federal government uses to
reimburse doctor’s who participate in Medicare. Medicare reimburses doctors
and other medical professionals for their services according to a
congressionally created fee schedule that is annually adjusted by the
Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. The idea is relatively simple: If
Medicare spending grows faster than our overall economy (which is almost
always the case), then payments to Medicare providers are supposed to be
reduced proportionately to keep expenditures in line over a period of time.

Problem is every year Congress–under both Democratic and Republican
leadership–routinely blocks the cuts from going into effect. Subsequently,
the necessary cumulative cut in Medicare payments grows bigger. Without a
change to current law, payments to physicians would be reduced by 21.5% as
of January 1, 2010. The Senate Finance Committee bill addresses this problem
by raising the reimbursement rate for one year and then pretending that
Congress will allow massive cuts
20:891BFC98E2A0A1F26212E7996BE25AE8> for the next 9 years. House Majority
Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) rightfully called the Senate Finance Committee
proposal a façade
20:891BFC98E2A0A1F26212E7996BE25AE8> .

The Obama administration’s proposed solution, however, is no more honest.
Instead of pretending Congress will cut doctor’s Medicare reimbursement
rates, the Senate wants to pretend the doc fix isn’t part of health care
reform. So Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) dissembled
20:891BFC98E2A0A1F26212E7996BE25AE8> Friday: “Correcting the Medicare
doctors’ payment discrepancy is a budgetary problem — health insurance
reform tackles a serious regulatory problem. That’s why we need to fix the
Medicare doctors’ payments first, outside of health reform.” The Washington
Post editorial board responded
20:891BFC98E2A0A1F26212E7996BE25AE8> this morning:

Mr. Reid’s attempt to distinguish the budgetary and regulatory
issues is nonsensical. The health reform measure includes all sorts of
changes in the ways that various providers are compensated. True, the
problem with inadequate Medicare payments is something of a preexisting
condition to health reform, but that does not make it unrelated. The
so-called doc fix is being rushed to the Senate floor this week in advance
of health reform not because it has nothing to do with health reform but
because it has everything to do with it.

A president who says that he is serious about dealing with the dire
fiscal picture cannot credibly begin by charging this one to the national
credit card, with no concern for the later generations who will have to pay
the bill.

And it is the later generations that should be particularly concerned with
this shell game. That $247 billion price tag is just the ten year cost of
the doc fix. Looking over the long-term, the 75-year cost to our national
debt is another $3 trillion. This past Friday the Obama administration
admitted that the federal budget deficit for the fiscal year that just ended
was $1.4 trillion, nearly a trillion dollars greater than the year before
and the largest shortfall relative to the size of the economy since 1945.
20:891BFC98E2A0A1F26212E7996BE25AE8> Just like Obamacare’s massive
expansion of the Medicaid rolls
20:891BFC98E2A0A1F26212E7996BE25AE8> , the doc fix shell game exposes the
fact that Obamacare is just a continuation of the current budget busting
health care system, not real reform.


According to data from the Congressional Budget Office and Kaiser Family
Foundation, Obamacare would expand Medicaid and the State Children’s Health
Insurance Program to the point that nearly one in five Americans would be on
government programs
20:891BFC98E2A0A1F26212E7996BE25AE8> that provide health care to the poor.
This would be the biggest single expansion since Medicaid was created in
20:891BFC98E2A0A1F26212E7996BE25AE8> .

California is poised to become the first state to ban big-screen TVs
20:891BFC98E2A0A1F26212E7996BE25AE8> due to their power-heavy demands.

According to an internal Energy Department audit, the Energy Star program
(which the Obama administration threw $300 million of ’stimulus’ at) doesn’t
properly track
20:891BFC98E2A0A1F26212E7996BE25AE8> whether manufacturers that give their
appliances an Energy Star label have met the required specifications for
energy efficiency.

The high-mileage car tax credit in President Obama’s failed stimulus allows
for a federal tax credit generous enough to pay for half or even two-thirds
of the average sticker price of a golf cart
20:891BFC98E2A0A1F26212E7996BE25AE8> .

U.S. and European counterterrorism officials say a rising number of Western
recruits — including Americans — are traveling to Afghanistan and Pakistan
20:891BFC98E2A0A1F26212E7996BE25AE8> to attend paramilitary training camps.

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