“Mediscare”, Part I

In most elections it seems that an expected topic is scaring seniors about Medicare…i.e.,vote for the other guy and he will take away your Medicare.  This year’s election will be no exception.  So, I thought it might make sense to review the facts about each parties’ proposal.  I will start with the President’s plan.  Part II will cover the Wyden/Ryan plan.

Actually, the President’s plan isn’t a plan, it is already the law under Obamacare.

Under it, Medicare Advantage programs are eliminated.  Currently some 25% of seniors are enrolled in that program.  And, over ten years, $716 billion will be removed from Medicare’s “assets”, and those funds will be used to pay for health care for people other than seniors.  In other words, $716 billion in taxes that all workers have paid into Medicare to cover their future health care when retired, will now be spent by the government on someone other than those who are retired, or who will eventually retire.  The President accomplishes this reduction in Medicare spending with two provisions of Obamacare.

Under the first provision,

 [t]he Affordable Care Act pegs Medicare spending to the growth of the economy plus 1%…

So, if, for example, the economy grows at the rate of 3% in any given year, Medicare spending can only grow by 4% the following year.  This is spending cap is implemented by the second provision.

A bureaucratic panel of 15 men and women will enforce the cap by decreeing how medicine should be practiced and how doctors and hospitals are organized.

If the spending cap is exceeded, the panel [the Independent Payment Advisory Board], has two tools at their disposal to solve the problem.  They can either reduce the payments Medicare makes to health care providers for services, or reduce the services provided by Medicare.  In either event, the decision of the Board is not appealable…to anyone.

Under the first “tool”, some say that more and more doctors will simply choose not to accept Medicare as payment, and thus, only the rich will be able to afford the doctors’ fees.  Under the second “tool”, some say that if a service is needed and Medicare will not cover it, only the rich will be able to afford the needed service.

What do you say?


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The Sound Off Sister was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and special trial attorney for the Department of Justice, Criminal Division; a partner in the Florida law firm of Shutts & Bowen, and an adjunct professor at the University of Miami, School of Law. The Sound Off Sister offers frequent commentary concerning legislation making its way through Congress, including the health reform legislation passed in early 2010.


  1. SeeingRed on September 4, 2012 at 9:12 am

    …makes me with I had a Congressional Health Plan…oh, that’s ONLY for them?

  2. Plainvillian on September 4, 2012 at 10:28 am

    ” if you like you doctor, you can keep him….”? Isn’t that what we were told?

  3. Tim-in-Alabama on September 4, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Some people have to lose their healthcare so that everyone can have healthcare. If some people die, it’s the sacrifice that has to be made for better health.

  4. Murphy on September 4, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    You can keep your doctor if you want to…. you’ll just have to pay for yourself.

  5. stinkfoot on September 4, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Thank you for this.? I wonder what impact the legislation will have as far as taxes and cost of living once it is fully implemented since this supposedly transparent administration was kind enough to obscure the nature of what was rammed through.? “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it” -Nancy Pelosi

  6. Linda Mae on September 4, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Let’s repeal and replace…
    The 40 paged Republican bill addressed the issue of cost.? Too bad it was ignored.
    I tell everyone about my cousin’s friend Hank who is on medicaid and was told by his doctor that he needed a $3,000 test and his share under medicaid was 1/2!? The man makes @ $12,000 per year.? Then, my mom had breast cancer and was scheduled for a 6 month after surgery mammogram.? Only on the breast which had the surgery? – not on both to see that there was no cancer in either….Medicare wouldn’t pay for it,?
    I don’t want the feds involved any further in our health care if this is what we have to face today – not in the future.

  7. dennis on September 5, 2012 at 10:53 am

    We should all ask our candidates including the unbeatable democrats in Conn 3 simple yes or no questions and then make your choice on how to vote. 1) Will you vote to repeal the Obamacare Act?? Yes or No.? 2) will you vote for a balanced Budget?? Yes or No.? 3) will you vote to reduce the National debt by reducing spending? Yes or No.

    Make your choice after they answer yes or no, if they can’t answer with a yes or no then we should not vote for them. Hold them to these answers and if they do not follow their answers vote them out next time.

    • stinkfoot on September 5, 2012 at 11:54 am

      I think we’d find that politicians are incapable of answering simply as “yes” or “no”- they dive into talking points which is a tip off that they are not going to act as we wish as they will try and spin their decision as though it were in our interest.

    • Lynn on September 5, 2012 at 3:57 pm

      Good questions, Dennis. I will ask them.

  8. Tracy on September 5, 2012 at 11:03 am

    @ SOS……….Question……..does the $717 billion over ten years equal the cost of medicare advantage?for that period?or is it more?

    • SoundOffSister on September 5, 2012 at 5:40 pm

      Eliminating Medicare Advantage is a drop in the bucket compared to the total $716 billion.

  9. RoBrDona on September 5, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    I propose a national lottery for Death Panel seats.

    • Dimsdale on September 6, 2012 at 8:08 pm

      Will members be exempt from their decisions, like Congress or union stewards?? 😉


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