Give ‘Em Hell, Mitt!

by alexvanbuskirk

Give ‘Em Hell, Mitt!, Romney needs to stay on the offensive of the Medicare debate

By Rich Lowry @ National Review (August 17, 2012)

Others pooh-pooh the significance of the cuts. They supposedly hit only “nonessential services.” This may be the first time in the debate over entitlements that Democrats have deemed anything related to Medicare “nonessential.”

What Democrats mean is that $156 billion of the cuts fall on the Medicare Advantage program. They have always hated this feature because it gives seniors access to private-sector coverage options. But seniors like it.

The Obama cuts also rely on grinding, year-after-year reductions in payments to doctors and other providers. This is a way to maintain that there are technically no changes in “benefits,” though access to and quality of care inevitably will be affected.

No one concerned with the health of Medicare would go about it in this fashion. But “Obamacare” was helter-skelter legislating, a desperate attempt to make the numbers temporarily add up.

Medicare’s actuaries consistently sound the alarm about the consequences. A May 2012 report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid said, “The large reductions in Medicare payments rates to physicians would likely have serious implications for beneficiary access to care.” It also noted the punishing effect on hospitals, skilled-nursing facilities, and home health agencies, which “would have to withdraw from providing services to Medicare beneficiaries, merge with other provider groups or shift substantial portions of Medicare costs to their non-Medicare, non-Medicaid payers.”