In Fact, Mr. President, We've Been Talking About Reducing Medicare Benefits This Whole Time


Politico points out a new report from Richard Foster, Medicare's chief actuary, noting that seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans will see reduced benefits as a result of the recent health care overhaul:

When I say "nobody," I mean "nobody but the CBO and CMS."

A Medicare official concedes that seniors may have to dig deeper into their wallets next year thanks to the health care law.

The new analysis obtained by POLITICO finds the health care overhaul will result in increased out-of-pocket costs for seniors on Medicare Advantage plans.

Richard Foster, the actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, also tells Senate Republicans that the overhaul will result in "less generous benefit packages" for Medicare Advantage plans next year. Foster is independent from the administration and non-partisan.

Politico frames this as a concession. It's not much of one. Last year, a different Foster report indicated that, as The Washington Post summarized, the health care overhaul "would sharply reduce benefits for some senior citizens and could jeopardize access to care for millions of others." And the Congressional Budget Office has said that an early draft of the law "would reduce the extra benefits that would be made available to beneficiaries through Medicare Advantage plans."

Now, some recent changes to Medicare Advantage have been mistakenly attributed to the PPACA. For example, health insurers in both Massachusetts and Minnesota recently announced that they would be dropping tens of thousands of seniors from their current Medicare Advantage plans. Those changes appear to be at primarily a result of a 2008 law requiring fee-for-service Medicare Advantage plans to create networks of doctors. Rather than build those networks, some insurers have simply opted out of the market.

But the fact is that despite the Obama administration's attempts to tell seniors that Medicare wouldn't be negatively affected by the new health care law, both Foster and the CBO have made it pretty clear that seniors will see fewer benefits and/or higher costs. Obama may have promised seniors at an AARP panel last year that "nobody is talking about reducing Medicare benefits." But at least for seniors on Medicare Advantage, official government sources have been talking about reducing those benefits since roughly the time that the first drafts of the bill were released.

Are cuts to Medicare a bad thing? Not at all. In fact, I think it's pretty clear that major changes are necessary in order to hold down the program's spending growth. But the Obama Administration has repeatedly misled the public about how the new law will affect the program. More context on ObamaCare and Medicare here.

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  1. You Lie !

  2. I don’t really care about this story. Oh no, the richest age group in America won’t be able to pilfer from everyone else’s pockets as much!

    1. I don’t care about cutting Medicare either. But I don’t think that means we should give Obama a pass on lying.

    2. I understand the sentiment. But, we’ll see what your take is after you spend 45 years “contributing”, and then get assfucked.

      1. too late, we’ve already been assfucked out of our benefits

  3. Boy you guys really haven’t learned how to properly analysis Obama’s words.

    They aren’t talking about cutting the benefits. They’re just cutting the benefits.

    What ever happened to (I think?) J Sub D’s ‘Parsing President’ thing?

    1. IIRC, it was RC Dean’s “parsin’ President”

  4. Was that picture of Obama taken during his surprise appearance at last year’s AARP Deaf Comedy Jam? I heard his “You Might Be a Socialist” bit KILLED.

    1. His “death panel” riff had me in stitches.

  5. We can’t understand what’s in the bill until we pass it, you morons.

    1. I could almost let that go if they understood it now. But, to do so would require intellectual integrity, so…

  6. The North Florida seniors were not fooled. They’ve been hammering Allen Boyd for weeks with TV commercials. I’ll bet he’s glad he sold his vote for union support in the primary. Apparently his district won’t vote for a yellow dog just because it has (D) next to it on the ballot anymore.

  7. “Medicare Benefits to Retired Seniors be Reduced.”

    “Welfare payments to Thousands of Millionaires to be Reduced.”

    It’s all how you phrase it.

    1. Yes, but it’s crucial to Democrats that Medicare and Social Security not be considered “welfare.” That’s why they’re against means-testing.

  8. What ever happened to (I think?) J Sub D’s ‘Parsing President’ thing?


    1. Uh, oh. Now there’s going to be a flood of cease-and-desist comments posted here.

      1. Oh. Note: read full comments section before replying.

        1. Ain’t threaded, infinite-nested-loop comments

          1. . . .the greatest?

  9. Either way you cut this, the health care thing is a disaster for Obama. He either lied about the cutting benefits thing or he is so incompetent that he actually thought the program would allow people to keep the same insurance packages if they wanted.

    I’d kill to do the political ads against him in 2012, it’d be too easy.

    1. No kidding. Tag line:

      “Was he lying, or just incompetent? Does it really matter? Vote Troglodyte/Neo-Nazi and get the President you deserve. Good and hard.”

  10. In 1970 I voted for a guy for class president who said he was going to get a soda machine in the cafetria. He didn’t do it. For many years I thought that the school admin had put the kibosh on it, but now I’m beginning to think that maybe the guy didn’t try at all. I think maybe he just wanted to be president and hang out with other cool people and stuff. I am becoming disenchanted with this whole political process.

    1. 1970…..I am becoming disenchanted with this whole political process.

      Just now? I mean JUST now?

  11. I love that picture. “Live at the Senoir Care Improv!”

  12. I never thought we could find a bigger dork than “W”.

    1. So naturally you voted for Hope and Change. Because “H” and “C” both come before “W”.

  13. “It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters!”

  14. He was telling the truth!! No one on his team was talking about cutting Medicare benefits. They were just planning to do it, not talk about it.

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