Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Law designed to lower health care costs and provide coverage to more people not doing a whole lot of either


It turns out one of the things we are finding out about ObamaCare once we passed it is that not only is it turning out to cost a heck of a lot more than advertised 2-3 years ago, many of its new intended beneficiaries will be getting stiffed because of existing laws.

President Obama’s landmark health-care initiative, long touted as a means to control costs, will actually add more than $340 billion to the nation’s budget woes over the next decade, according to a new study by a Republican member of the board that oversees Medicare financing.

The study is set to be released Tuesday by Charles Blahous, a conservative policy analyst whom Obama approved in 2010 as the GOP trustee for Medicare and Social Security. His analysis challenges the conventional wisdom that the health-care law, which calls for an expensive expansion of coverage for the uninsured beginning in 2014, will nonetheless reduce deficits by raising taxes and cutting payments to Medicare providers.

The 2010 law does generate both savings and revenue. But much of that money will flow into the Medicare hospitalization trust fund — and, under law, the money must be used to pay years of additional benefits to those who are already insured. That means those savings would not be available to pay for expanding coverage for the uninsured.
(italics, ours)

Bummer, dude.

All those young, healthy millenials who were forced to sign up for ObamaCare as a means to help finance ObamaCare, thinking they will reap the benefits of ObamaCare will be getting squeezed by their Boomer grandparents. How do you say, "priceless"?

“Does the health-care act worsen the deficit? The answer, I think, is clearly that it does,” Blahous, a senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, said in an interview. “If one asserts that this law extends the solvency of Medicare, then one is affirming that this law adds to the deficit. Because the expansion of the Medicare trust fund and the creation of the new subsidies together create more spending than existed under prior law.”

It certainly doesn't take an Ivy League economy degree to surmise that an expansion of benefits as contained within ObamaCare is going to cost quite a bit of money and may very well not be deficit-neutral.

Of course, those Ivy League economists retort:

Administration officials dismissed the study, arguing that it departs from bipartisan budget rules used to measure every major deficit-reduction effort for the past four decades (ed. note: and how has that been working out?) — including the blueprint offered last month by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

“Opponents of reform are using ‘new math’ while they attempt to refight the political battles of the past,” a White House budget official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the report was not publicly available. “The fact of the matter is, the Congressional Budget Office and independent experts concluded that the health-reform law will reduce the deficit. That was true the day the bill was signed into law, and it’s true today.”

The CBO has done nothing of the sort and, in fact, projected ObamaCare to cost nearly twice as much over the next ten years than their 10-year projection just two years ago.

But let's talk some "double-counting", shall we?

Blahous acknowledged that his analysis departs from budget conventions, which, he said, make sense for the most part. He said that in this case, however, those rules do not fully illuminate the financial impact of the health-care law, since they permit what conservative critics have dubbed a “double counting” of proposed Medicare savings.

Medicare is financed in part through a trust fund that receives revenue from payroll taxes. Before Obama’s health-care act passed, the trust fund was projected to be drained by 2017 (later updated to 2016). Absent the health-care law, Blahous writes, Medicare would have been forced to enact a sharp reduction in benefit payments in the middle of this decade, or “other Medicare savings would have had to be found.”

Enter the health-care law, which provides about $575 billion in Medicare savings — enough to automatically extend the life of the trust fund through 2029, according to estimates at the time, and avoid a sharp cut in benefits.

But in cost estimates by the nonpartisan CBO, those savings also offset a dramatic expansion of Medicaid under the law, as well as new subsidies for uninsured people to purchase coverage.

Very simply, you cannot take additional revenue and count it equally towards two separate entities... even three but we now know those newly-insured millenials are screwed.

That this double-counting has, for years, been recognized as a standard, bi-partisan accounting practice in D.C. speaks volumes.

Still two years away from full enactment and this thing is looking like a fiscal train wreck of epic proportions.

No comments: