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A Different View about Obama’s Medicare “Actual Facts”

By Grace-Marie Turner

President Obama said during his weekly radio address Saturday that he wanted to share “some actual facts” about “a lot of accusations and misinformation flying around” about Medicare.   Let’s look at the “facts” that he highlights in his address:

“We’ve extended the life of Medicare by almost a decade.”

Grace-Marie Turner, President, Galen Institute

He “extends the life of Medicare” by paying Medicare providers less and less every year to the point that 15 percent, and eventually 40 percent, of Medicare providers will either go bankrupt or stop seeing Medicare patients altogether, according to Medicare actuaries.

“And I’ve proposed reforms that will save Medicare money by getting rid of wasteful spending in the health care system and reining in insurance companies — reforms that won’t touch your guaranteed Medicare benefits. Not by a single dime.”

The Affordable Care Act assumes deep reductions in payments to doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, and Medicare Advantage program, totaling $716 billion over ten years. By paying providers less, the trust fund may last a bit longer, but it means seniors will have a harder and harder time finding a doctor to see them as they drop out of the program or stop taking new Medicare patients. The law may not explicitly cut benefits, but it certainly will impact access to care. What good is a Medicare card if you can’t find a doctor? That is precisely the problem that patients on Medicaid — the program for lower-income Americans — face today, forcing them to go to hospital emergency rooms for even routine care. Do seniors want that?

(Editor’s Note: Grace-Marie Turner will discuss the U.S. Supreme Court health care law decision impact at the 2012 Georgia Public Policy Forum on Friday, September 21 at the W Hotel in midtown Atlanta.  Click here for more information.) 

And they certainly don’t want the Independent Payment Advisory Board, the unelected, unaccountable board of 15 bureaucrats charged with keeping Medicare spending down. The main tool the IPAB will have is an ax to cut Medicare payments even further, which will reduce access to care even more.

Worse, the president’s health-care law harms tomorrow’s taxpayers by spending that $716 billion in alleged Medicare savings twice! It uses the money again to create a vast new entitlement program to provide generous taxpayer subsidies for health insurance through the new exchanges.

(Click here to read this complete commentary on the Galen Institute website.)

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