ObamaCare Forces Medicare Trustees to Make False Budget Assumptions
Last week, the Office of the Chief Actuary (OCA) for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) told the truth, as it has every year since Democrats pushed through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The OCA released a 21-page “memorandum” to the official 2012 report of the Medicare trustees. The trustees’ annual report assesses the financial health of the Medicare program, both now and in the future. In essence, the chief actuary’s paper explains in very diplomatic terms why a person would be a fool to believe the full report. According to the memorandum:
“The Trustees Report is necessarily based on current law; … however, the projections shown in the report are clearly unrealistic … The purpose of this memorandum is to present a set of Medicare projections under hypothetical alternatives to those provisions to help illustrate and quantify the potential magnitude of the cost understatement under current law.”
For example, in 2009 Medicare’s payment rates were about 67 percent of what private health insurance would have paid; Medicaid rates were about 66 percent, according to the chief actuary. Those low rates help explain why it is increasingly difficult for a senior to see a new doctor, and it’s even worse for Medicaid patients.
However, ObamaCare requires the trustees to assume a steady decline in the reimbursement rates for both programs—to about 39 percent of what private insurance would pay in 2080.
And PRESTO, ObamaCare doesn’t add to the deficit!
If I can assume that my groceries, gasoline and utilities bills will eventually be a third less than they are right now, I can also project a balanced budget in the future.
Taking this step, as the chief actuary has done for a third time, of releasing an alternative (read: realistic) scenario for Medicare’s future budget is unprecedented. But it is also necessary; somebody has to tell the truth.
And it raises a serious question: Given the Democrats’ deception in forcing the Medicare trustees to make patently false assumptions, can we believe any budget they propose? Alas, we may never know since they haven’t proposed a budget in more than three years.