August 6, 2010
Two interesting events happened within the last seven days that I think are related and reveal a lot about the Administration's desperation to sell the new health care reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
First, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius released a report earlier this week that trumpeted the virtues of the new law. Among other things Secretary Sebelius' report claimed that the new law will save $575 billion over the next 10 years and extend the solvency of Medicare by 12 years.
Second, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a $700,000 television ad, featuring Mayberry's own Andy Griffith, which promised that Medicare enrollees will receive their "guaranteed benefits" along with "more good things" including free checkups, lower prescription costs and protection from fraud.
The audacity and shear arrogance of the administration to release a report that is so filled with inaccuracies and half truths that it absolutely belies common sense is bad enough. To compound that insult by spending hard earned taxpayers money, in a time of recession and growing deficits, on a not so thinly veiled political ad to sell a law that neither increases the protection of patients nor is affordable by either the patient or the country, is an affront to all Americans, especially seniors.
As you can tell I have strong feelings about these actions: let me tell you why. The report nonchalantly reports the fact that the new law will cut $575 billion dollars from Medicare, but then maintains that Medicare will still being able to (as stated in the introduction to the report), "strengthen the care Medicare beneficiaries receive . . . protects guaranteed benefits for all Medicare beneficiaries, and provides new benefits and services to seniors on Medicare". Does anyone with any common sense really believe that you can cut that much money out of Medicare without doing damage, let alone maintain current services and add new benefits?
I have another question; how can the report say that the $575 billion is going to extend the solvency of Medicare when the money is not going back into Medicare but is going to pay for the uninsured and other government programs contained in the bill? Is that not double counting at its worst? And double speak as well?
In reference to the CMS ad I think the letter that was immediately sent to Secretary Sebelius by five Republican Senators says it best, they said in part, "We believe this ad is a clear violation of the spirit of federal laws that prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars for campaign purposes". Their opposition was fueled by a release by Faxcheck.org, a nonpartisan organization that reviews the accuracy of political statements, said the ad was misleading because they found that an estimated 10 million Medicare Advantage enrollees could see their benefits reduced by $43 per month, as scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). In a further rebuttal of the ad the Senate Finance Committee's ranking Member, Senator Charles "Chuck" Grassley said, "As for protecting Medicare benefits, the Medicare Actuary, CBO and now another independent organization, FactCheck.org, have directly contradicted Administration claims that benefits will remain intact."
The new law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, certainly doesn't protect the patients from the benefit cuts that are sure to come when you cut $575 billion dollars from the program, and it certainly isn't affordable when the rates go up for enrollees and America's deficits go up (as indicated by the CBO when all the cost are included). It just doesn't protect us and we just can't afford it. We all need to keep our eyes on the facts as the Administration seeks to "educate" us with their spin.