Bloggers are still buzzing about last week’s report on the future of Medicare, which found that the new health overhaul law would extend the life of the trust fund by 12 years, to 2029.
Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky explains, “A new Medicare Trustees report finds that the Independent Payment Advisory Board [IPAB], the payment reform demonstration projects, and productivity improvements in the new health care law will save Medicare $8 billion by the end of 2011, and $575 billion over the next decade.” Volsky also explains that even under CMS’ Chief Actuary Richard Foster’s differing estimates, the life of the Medicare trust fund is extended one year shorter to 2028.
Cato’s Michael Cannon uses conditional logic to point out the assumed cost savings may not come about: “Medicare’s chief actuary and many others doubt that providers will realize the productivity gains assumed by Congress. If the assumed productivity gains do not occur, those price reductions would reduce Medicare enrollees’ access to care. Medicare providers and enrollees would likely persuade Congress to block the price reductions. Medicare spending and the federal debt would rise.” Cannon and John Sheils of the Lewin Group weigh in.
On the National Journal’s Expert Blog, Meghan McCarthy asks health policy experts whether they think the predicted productivity changes will take place.
Heritage’s Kathryn Nix discusses other changes to Medicare under the health overhaul: as part of her “Side Effects of ObamaCare” series, Nix writes, “Too bad for the oldsters. Even before Obamacare, Medicare had racked up unfunded obligations of $38 trillion. But rather than restructure Medicare to remedy the program’s fundamental fiscal problems, Obamacare proponents opted to siphon off $200 billion and use it to start an entirely new—and equally financially unsustainable—health program for even more people.”
The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait responds to Nix: “The Republican Party’s most successful political move over the last year and a half has been to convince old people that health care reform has come at their expense. …Conservatives used to frequently taunt liberals for defending a welfare state that primarily benefited the old and shorted the young. This was always a caricature. But now, out of Republican electoral expedience, conservatives are adopting a view even more extreme than the caricature.”
While the online debate continued, President Barack Obama used his weekly address to discuss the changes to Medicare under health reform.
Beyond the Medicare rhetoric, the American Spectator’s Philip Klein looks at what might be Republican’s strategy should they regain the House of Representatives: “they could theoretically use their new power of the purse to deny Obama the funding needed to administer his signature accomplishment. This prospect is already gaining steam among opponents of the law. The new group DeFundit.org has gotten more than 90 candidates and current members of Congress to sign a pledge supporting stripping ObamaCare of money.”