Keeping up with the president’s chronic lies, deceptions, misrepresentations and other health-care fairy tales.
Last week, Barack Obama treated us to a traveling road show crusading for his heath care overhaul plan. But what he actually said at those staged, orchestrated, town halls packed with his fervent supporters was so unhinged from the reality of the Congressional legislation he is supporting that he must have consciously decided to challenge us all with the dare: “Catch me if you can.”
President Obama keeps repeating over and over that his plan does not include any cuts in Medicare. But the legislation he is supporting specifies $500 billion in reduced funding for Medicare, scored by CBO. When arguing that his health overhaul is paid for, he wants credit for these cuts. But when challenged, he wants to deny before the whole country in broad daylight that he is doing it. I can’t recall any precedent for such a Presidential disconnect from reality.
In trying to deny these Medicare cuts, President Obama said at one town hall that AARP had endorsed his plan. He said, “AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare, okay?” But just the night before, AARP was on national television denying that it had endorsed the Obama health plan. It issued a press release saying the same just after Obama’s town hall misstatement.
President Obama also repeats over and over in these town halls that his health plan will reduce health costs, thereby reducing federal spending and deficits. But CBO, which is now in complete control of the Democrat Congressional majorities, says just the opposite. It says the Obama health overhaul plan will increase federal spending by close to a trillion dollars or more, and increase the federal deficit by hundreds of billions. On health costs, CBO Director Doug Elmendorf told Congress,
In the legislation that has been reported we don’t see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal spending by a significant amount…[O]n the contrary, the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health costs….[The government public option for health insurance] raises the amount of [spending] that is growing at this unsustainable rate.
And here’s a dirty little secret. The CBO surely underestimates the costs of the Obama health plan, just as it regularly does for new government programs, health programs in particular. The official government estimates for Medicare when it was adopted in 1965 projected that the program would cost only $12 billion by 1990. But the actual costs of the program by that year were $109.7 billion, nine times larger than the original estimate.
Independent private estimates have ranged far higher than what CBO projects. HSI Network used its proprietary ARCOLA simulation model to estimate that the House bill would cost $3.5 trillion in additional federal spending alone over 10 years. HSI estimates that the Senate bill would cost $4.1 trillion over 10 years. These estimates seem far more realistic than the CBO estimates. In my study of the Obama health plan for the Heartland Institute (www.heartland.org), I explain in thorough detail how and why the Obama health overhaul will raise rather than lower health costs.
But in the town halls, President Obama just goes from bad to worse. In Colorado on Saturday, President Obama even suggested that his health overhaul scheme would “bend the cost curve,” reducing “health care inflation” so much that the enormous long-term deficit of Medicare (unfunded liability: $89 trillion) would be eliminated! He said that without his health overhaul plan, “We’ll either have to cut Medicare, in which case seniors then will bear the brunt of it, or we’ll have to raise taxes, which nobody likes.” But the CBO has never ever come anywhere near to confirming anything like this. This is just abusive.
Screwing Seniors on Medicare Advantage
Among the cuts in Medicare under the Obama health plan is $177 billion in cuts for what he misleadingly calls “subsidies” for health insurance companies, or “sweetheart deals for insurance companies that don’t make anybody any healthier.” Translating this into straight talk, what Obama is talking about here are the reimbursements Medicare pays to the private insurance companies operating the Medicare Advantage option. Seniors enjoy the freedom today to choose one of these Medicare Advantage insurance companies to provide their coverage and benefits under Medicare. Almost one-fourth of seniors have chosen this Medicare Advantage option because they believe they get better benefits from it than from standard Medicare.
But Obama thinks that what Medicare is paying to these insurance companies to provide Medicare coverage and benefits is somehow a “subsidy” or a “sweetheart deal.” So he is proposing to pay for his health care overhaul in part by slashing these payments by $177 billion. At a minimum, these cuts will force these plans to cut back on the benefits they provide to seniors. Or the Medicare Advantage plans may just go out of business altogether, dumping the almost one-fourth of seniors who have made this choice because they are getting a better deal from these plans.
President Obama continually promises over and over that if you like your health insurance, you can keep it. He said at the town hall in Colorado on Saturday, “I just want to be completely clear about this: I keep on saying this but somehow folks aren’t listening — if you like your health care plan, you keep your health care plan.” But this promise apparently doesn’t extend to seniors on Medicare Advantage, which he is slashing because he is ideologically opposed to private options for Medicare.
Nor can anyone else rely on this false promise either. If you have employer-provided health insurance, under the Obama health plan the decision as to whether you keep that insurance will not be up to you. It will be up to your employer, who Obama entices with incentives to dump you into the public option government health insurance plan so beloved by the Far Left. The employer can just dump your current health coverage and pay an 8% payroll tax instead. If you make $50,000, the payroll tax will cost $4,000 for you, which is probably less than the cost of your current coverage.
This is why the Lewin Group, an independent, expert, health care consulting firm, estimates that under the Obama health plan “about 88.1 million workers would shift from private employer insurance to the public plan” to start. That’s a lot of workers not keeping their current health coverage if they like it.
Even if you purchase health insurance directly on your own, you will not be able to keep that insurance if your insurer is driven out of business by the public option, government health plan. One big reason that will happen is that the government has the power to dictate what doctors and hospitals would be paid by the government plan. Medicare now pays doctors almost 20% below market rates, and hospitals more than 30% below market. Medicaid pays 30% to 40% less than Medicare. The health reform bills now pending in Congress authorize the public option to follow these payment practices.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?