Obama Cons Medicare Seniors to Gain Their Votes
As he tries to expand and extend his extra-constitutional Imperial Presidency, Mr. Obama has devised a new gimmick to fool tens of millions of the nation's seniors by hiding from the devastating effects on their health care insurance that will be inflicted by his ObamaCare takeover of the nation's medical delivery systems.
A large portion of seniors on Medicare opt to participate in programs under what is known as Medicare Advantage. Under these programs, the seniors receive broader benefits than under standard Medicare, need no supplementary Medigap policies at extra cost. The arrangement is based upon extra payments made to the Medicare Advantage providers and the limit on policyholders to choices among lists of physicians who have agreed to accept lower-than-usual fees.
Co-author of an op-ed in this morning's NY Post is Benjamin E. Sasse, a former US assistant secretary of health and president of Midland University. Along with co-author Charles Hurt, Sasse explains that under the ObamaCare law, Medicare Advantage benefits will be significantly cut back when provisions of the law reducing the funds available to providers are scheduled to take effect just before election time:
But as part of its hundreds of billions in Medicare cuts, the Obama one-size-fits-all plan slashes reimbursement rates for Medicare Advantage starting next year - herding many seniors back into the government-run program.
Under federal "open-enrollment" guidelines, seniors must pick their Medicare coverage program for next year by the end of this year - which means they should be finding out before Election Day.
Obviously, this will make tens of millions of seniors participating in Medicare Advantage programs sorely unhappy with the president. His answer is through a supposed "experiment," condemned as an $8 billion waste by the General Accounting Office, which will postpone the effectiveness date of this cutback in available benefits until after the November elections.
"It's hard to imagine a bigger electoral disaster for a president," write Hasse and Hurd, " than seniors in crucial states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio discovering that he's taken away their beloved Medicare Advantage just weeks before an election."
But the president has an ace up his sleeve, they explain. "Obama can temporarily prop up Medicare Advantage long enough to get re-elected by exploiting an obscure bit of federal law. Under a 1967 statute, the HHS secretary can spend money without specific approval by Congress on "experiments" directly aimed at "increasing the efficiency and economy of health services."
No Congressional approval is required, and Obama can simply defy the GAO recommendation to scrap the costly "experiment."
Once again, Obama chooses government by diktat rather than by law and Constitution.
The New York Times, of course, cannot help but devote some coverage to a matter of this magnitude, but they report it from an entirely different point of view on page A9 to today's edition. The contrast in approach is, to say the least, striking.