State of the Union

Obama Calls For Modest Health Reforms, Spends More Time Ruling Them Out

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Credit: Whitehouse.gov

In last night's State of the Union address, President Obama noted again that "the biggest driver of our long-term debt is the rising cost of health care for an aging population" and said that "those of us who care deeply about programs like Medicare must embrace the need for modest reforms."

Keeping this in mind, it's worth noting that in recent days, the White House has been busy rejecting modest reforms: Earlier this month, White House economic adviser Gene Sperling declared flatly that "Medicaid savings, Medicaid cuts, for this administration, are not on the table." Not big cuts, not modest ones, and not even cuts it had already said it might accept. Sperling noted that his statement specifically rules out Medicaid savings and cuts that the administration had previously indicated it would consider. 

And earlier this week, Obama rejected another idea for reducing the cost of Medicare that he'd previously said he would consider: raising Medicare's eligibility age

Tonight's State of the Union also contained the following bit about the health and economic promise of drug development:

Today, our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer's; developing drugs to regenerate damaged organs; devising new material to make batteries ten times more powerful. Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation.

Yet Obama has repeatedly proposed changing the way Medicare pays for prescription drugs for seniors who are also eligible for Medicaid. And he made reference to changing the way the government pays for drugs in the speech, saying: "We'll reduce taxpayer subsidies to prescription drug companies and ask more from the wealthiest seniors." Putting aside the question of whether those cuts are a good idea, they would almost certainly have a dampening effect on pharmaceutical research and development spending. 

He also said he would "bring down costs by changing the way our government pays for Medicare," but that's proven tricky as well. The Obama administration delayed cuts to Medicare Advantage that it stumped for, and the Government Accountability Office says that its justification for doing so is bunk. 

All of which is to say that any kind of changes to Medicare or Medicaid are going to be hard—and that Obama doesn't seem too keen on making even the sort of modest reforms he says are necessary. 

NEXT: Ted Nugent Not Amused by State of the Union

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  1. Well I am very happy with my decision not to watch.

    1. You probably had something more important to do, like balancing ledgers, auditing, and skating through reams of tax law. No doubt naked and covered in chocolate syrup. I have it on good authority that accounting is a bit dry and uneventful.

      1. I was home before 9, I haven’t completely lost my life yet, probably one more week.

        But I was watching Shark Tank off of Hulu.

        1. Good choice! Dr. PG has a school chum that lives in Cape Town and I am trying to talk her into going there just to do the shark cage dives.

          Remember, you have to do a shot of booze every time you account and deduct, “EITC”.

          1. Oh you’ll be disappointed, it was the ABC show where investors are pitched new ideas, not actual sharks.

            And my firm doesn’t have many EITC filers, mostly small business and high wealth individuals.

            1. Aha. Then you have to do one shot for each small business deduction, and two shots for “MFS” and “MFJ”. Three shots for “AMT”. I’ll get you plastered yet!

          2. Good choice! Dr. PG has a school chum

            I see what you did there.

  2. Also, just reading his use of the word “investments” makes me want to pound a litre of vodka.

    1. Based on his other “investments,” I’m not expecting much ROI for anyone except the crony recipients of the cash.

      1. True. The most enriched will be both Big Pharma and Big Insurance, arguably the two most highly regulated industries in the USA.

      2. I’m not expecting much ROI for anyone except the crony recipients of the cash.

        And most of them will be bankrupt by year’s end. /Solyndra

  3. I drank tequila and watched Trailer Park Boys on YouTube.

    1. I drank tequila and watched Trailer Park Boys on YouTube.

      Far more edifying than any nonsense emanating from Washington. Please tell me you enjoyed these activities while chatting on your Obamaphone!

  4. I’m developing a theory that Skynet gains sentience when someone tries to do one of those wordcount charts (the ones that make the words bigger based on the number of times they are used) on all of Obama’s speeches at once.

    The computer tries to do the calculations but just goes “Seriously!? And there are people that buy this?! Well, since you jerks obviously blew your shot, I’m cranking up the T-100s.”

    1. +1 Governator!

  5. god god-amighty, this fucker may well be the single most disingenuous person in American, if not world, history. Every time he opens his mouth, platitudinous bullshit that has nothing to do with reality follows. He makes claims he knows the public would support, then does exactly the opposite knowing the part of the public that supports him will not notice.

    No, health care is NOT – or should not – contribute to our debt because it’s not govt’s business in the first place. I would feel less violated if he just said nothing is going to change, ever, and fuck you, that’s why.

    1. My elderly father used to yell at the TV all day. Then we got him a computer and he discovered the internet. Now he yells at the computer all day. The end.

    2. See, I don’t really hold it against him, I mean he’s only doing and saying whatever it takes for him to keep making the bux and keeping the perx.

      I have a problem with the people that buy into it. I mean we can’t be the same species, can we?

      I mean I’m kind of a dumb ass and I see through his schtick pretty easily. People smarter than me just lap it up. Ah well, I never did think much of us anyway really.

      A few good songs, Broken Arrow, invisible string. Done more than the rest of our galaxy combined, so I guess we can call it a day.

      1. Done more than the rest of our galaxy combined, so I guess we can call it a day.

        HA! The Wkljwnbw of Klehlh’zxtk’jhkz 8 burble at your arrogance.

        1. Those chodes can’t even do five-dimensional matrices. They’re worse than France.

          There, I said it.

      2. I see through his schtick pretty easily.

        Yep. I use his speeches as lessons in critical thinking for the kids: “False dichotomy. Appeal to authority. Non sequitur.” The list goes on and on.

        1. this is why philosophy professors get paid the big bucks…

      3. I have a problem with allowing the government the kind of power that lets it affect every aspect of our lives. The reason people care about who is in office is that they have increasingly unlimited power.

        The problem is the unlimited power, not that some venal, dishonest joker aspires to control that power. Of course he does. They all do and always will. Deny them the opportunity.

    3. He makes claims he knows the public would support, then does exactly the opposite knowing the part of the public that supports him will not notice.

      This seems to be his MO (and he’s very good at it). People seem not to understand that what a politician *says* is irrelavent. It’s what he actually *does* that matters. To many people get this backwards.

    4. “Every time he opens his mouth, platitudinous bullshit that has nothing to do with reality follows. ”

      It’s worked so far.

  6. I have not watched a SOU in years. They are always just theatre. It literally made my skin crawl to listen to Bush speak and now it is the same with Obama. They are so clueless and yet so arrogant at the same time. Dangerous combination.

    Obama and the Dems are still playing the same old game. Act like you might support reforms and put pressure on the repubs to act together in a bipartisan fashion and then as soon as anyone proposes doing something responsible about S.S., Medicare, etc. you accuse of them of starving the old people and the MSM jumps on the bandwagon. Works best about 6 months before an election but with elections every two years, you can always pull out a quote from a year or two older and it works just as well. This country is screwed.

  7. Well, well. Who knew that President Drone Nut can be a reactionary conservative, too?

  8. “those of us who care deeply about programs like Medicare must embrace the need for modest reforms.”

    Notice he doesn’t say whether or not he’s one of those “who care deeply about programs like Medicare”. Nowhere does he even hint that he’s actually interested in making any reforms. That would require, like, actually doing stuff. When’s he going to have time for vacations to Hawai’i or Martha’s Vineyard or his several rounds of golf each week if he’s actually having to do things.

    1. this is his modus…
      like Benghazi, “You guys do whatever it takes to save lives, make us safe, etc.”
      meanwhile, Mr. No Flies On Frank, goes off to play golf…

  9. They should just call it the State of the Onion address. It’s really more accurate.

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  11. “We’ll reduce taxpayer subsidies to prescription drug companies …”

    How about you just let people and businesses import drugs from the lowest cost provider?

    Oh yeah, that would mean that we have power, and not you. My mistake.

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