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The Secret Medicare Cuts

Republicans are in possession of a letter which asks: Where are the secret Medicare cuts going to come from?

Given that both Rasmussen and the AP polls have come up with the same answer: 59% of seniors are opposed to ObamaCare, the draft letter below has greater significance for Seniors than just the political implications for the Democrats.

Dick Morris discusses the policy implications for seniors:

“The latest poll by Scott Rasmussen not only shows national opposition to Obamacare rising – now it is 41-56 against – but also shows the elderly moving against it even more strongly, by 33-59, or almost 2:1.

And well they should! Three-quarters of ObamaCare is to be financed by slashing $500 billion from Medicare over the next 10 years. That comes to an 8 percent cut. Next year’s total Medicare spending, for example, will be about $500 billion by itself, so this is like having one year without Medicare at all! Obama’s fatuous claim that the cut will not affect care for the elderly is specious, as any thinking person would realize. We have gone through previous incarnations of those who wanted to slash Medicare and pretended that it would not affect the elderly. Newt Gingrich tried to sell this act of alchemy in 1995, and the elderly didn’t buy it then and aren’t buying it now!

It is obviously impossible to cut Medicare reimbursement without slashing the time doctors spend with patients. It is equally obvious that you cannot cover 30 million new patients without more doctors and nurses. And the Medicare cuts in doctors’ fees will, of course, cause a decrease in the number of medical professionals. Investors Business Daily conducted a poll in September that showed that 45 percent of all doctors said they would seriously consider retiring or closing their practices if the Obama bill passes. A larger number will likely refuse to treat Medicare patients. Indeed, current law provides for a 21 percent cut in Medicare fees to doctors next year and a 6 percent cut the year after. The new $500 billion in cuts are on top of these reductions! What kind of medical care do we expect our elderly to receive when the doctor they visit is getting $35 or $40 for seeing them!”

The draft letter reads, in part:

We do know that around $113 billion from reductions in entitlements will come out of Medicare Advantage, meaning that 10.2 million seniors on this program will not be able to keep the coverage they currently have.

But this leaves roughly $227.6 billion — a good chunk of the remainder of the $4-500 billion — consisting of unspecified Medicare cuts coming from reductions in payments to providers or subject to the determinations of a 15-member panel.

There are two competing dangers to these secret cuts, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive:

The first is that these Medicare unspecified cuts will lead to “rationing by underpricing.” Even accepting vague promises that benefits and eligibility will not be slashed, this leaves one central possibility: price reductions to the point at which providers fail to deliver services to Medicare recipients.

The New York Times admitted this, in an editorial Sunday morning attacking all Senate “Republicans” when it stated, with respect to “cuts in payments to hospitals and other health care providers” which would cause them to cease to serve Medicare patients: “If true, that is a problem that Congress will have to address in the future.”

If this bill, in fact, is going to cause seniors to lose access to doctors, hospitals, and services they now enjoy –- or to face “rationing by underpricing” -– that is a problem we need to face NOW.

The second possibility is that the “secret cuts” are illusory -– and that this bill will become a deficit engine which will irrevocably destroy the American economy.

Either or both of these contingencies is enough for us to pause a minute before cramming this bill down the throats of the American people in order to “make history.”

Finally, we believe that the Senate Finance Committee deserves legislative language -– and a CBO score based on legislative language.”

I wonder how many Seniors know that an unelected commission will be cutting their Medicare?

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