Do we need Medicare reform?

As you know, Representative Paul Ryan (R. Wi.) has proposed that Congress tackle the looming fiscal disaster that exists for Medicare.  A caller yesterday objected to any change because, as he put it, he has been paying into Medicare for years and wants to make sure he gets his money back. Read more

More of your tax dollars at work

Remember those heartwarming commercials before last year’s election where Andy Griffith tried to assure seniors that Obamacare was really a great program? Just in case you’ve forgotten, you can view one of them here.

As we pointed out then, Sheriff Andy didn’t exactly tell the truth about Obamacare.  He tried to assure seniors that their Medicare benefits wouldn’t change, but neglected to mention that if the senior was on Medicare Advantage, their benefits under that program would disappear.

He also told us that Obamacare would “strengthen” Medicare’s finances, but neglected to mention that the $500 billion taken from Medicare allegedly to “increase its longevity” was really being used to cover the costs of insuring millions of other Americans, and obviously couldn’t be used for both.

Well, now we know what you paid for this misleading propaganda…$3.5 million. 

Don’t blame the likable Sheriff (other than for his blatant misstatements) as he donated his time.  However, of that $3.5 million your Department of Health and Human Services spent $2.78 million for airtime, and $404,384.40 to the media consulting firm, Porter Novelli, for 668 billable hours of work producing the ads.  Although there are probably some expenses in that bill, perhaps taking Mr. Griffith to dinner, still, $605 per hour does seem a bit steep.

My quarrel is not so much with the expenditure but with the final misleading product.  It seems to me that if the government is going to use our money to educate people, the least it can do is tell the truth.

Medicare Advantage is dead…well, not quite

By now everyone knows that a large piece of Obamacare’s “deficit neutrality” comes from the provision that would eliminate Medicare Advantage programs for seniors.  This will “save” the government some $136 billion over 10 years. 

Medicare Advantage is despised by the left because it is privately run, and demonstrates to all that “market pricing and competition” are far more effective than total government control of health care.  Conversely, seniors like Medicare Advantage because it covers the costs of virtually all medical treatment, and at a price far less than a senior would pay for one of those “nifty” Medigap policies sold by AARP, assuming, of course, that a senior could afford one of those policies.  Currently, 25% of all seniors are enrolled in Medicare Advantage, and that figure is rising at the rate of 6% per year.

Last Friday, Health and Human Services released its annual “call letter,” which introduces the formula that will set Medicare rates for 2012. Out of nowhere, per capita Medicare Advantage payments will increase by 1.6% on average. The update was 0% for 2011, and most Wall Street analysts were forecasting a negative update for the coming year…

Just as the Department of Health and Human Services has recently “helped” some 2.1 million Americans “keep” the insurance they have (that they otherwise would have lost under this year’s Obamacare rules), the same department is now “helping” seniors keep their Medicare Advantage.

Why the sudden shift? 

Well, we are going into “election” mode, and it just wouldn’t do to have millions of Americans feel the brunt of Obamacare…at least not yet.

Cavuto vs Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee- Playing the human shield game

It’s not new. Democrats use human shields to push every piece of big government legislation they propose. It’s just unusual to find someone like a Neil Cavuto to call Democrats on it. Fantastic ands funny … it’s your Cavuto moment of the day. Read more

Docs sick of the Medicare cut threats – what would you do?

Here we go again. Physicians are trying to plan for a possible 23 percent Medicare reimbursement cut. Or maybe no cut at all. Physicians are running a business. They have employees, rent, insurance and utilities payments. Make the system too difficult to work with, and they look for options.

Read more

Obamacare: here’s an idea, let’s steal from the seniors

We are told that millions who currently have no health insurance will soon be covered under Obamacare.  But, where will the money come from to do this? 

By 2017, thousands of people in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio will be paying more than $5,000 per year in lost health-care benefits to make ObamaCare possible…[f]or some New York City dwellers, the figure will exceed $6000 a year.  Unfortunate residents of Ascension, La. will pay more than $9000 in lost benefits.

The rich, you ask?  No, these are the people who can little afford to lose those benefits.  They are predominantly the poor, and, they are the current participants in Medicare Advantage programs. 

Medicare itself doesn’t cover most prescription drugs, and, it’s abysmal reimbursement rates to health care providers leaves many seniors on the hook for thousands of dollars in medical expenses.  If you are “rich”, you purchase a “Medigap” insurance policy to cover these extra charges, and, purchase Medicare Part D drug coverage.  But, the premiums are costly.  And, many seniors simply can’t afford them.

For those seniors (25% of all Medicare recipients) , there is Medicare Advantage.  Under Medicare Advantage, seniors:

can enroll in comprehensive health plans that resemble the coverage many nonseniors have–often with no extra premium.

But, Medicare Advantage plans are being eliminated under Obamacare.  So, if you live, for example, in Ascension, La. you will have to spend $9000 per year (which you don’t have) in order to keep the same benefits you had before Obamacare, or, go without some medical care.

Those of you who were in favor of Obamacare, did you know that this would happen?  And, if you didn’t, why didn’t you?

Knowing what will happen under Obamacare, does anyone find the pre-election reemergence of this commercial , paid for with your tax dollars, to be particularly offensive?

I do find it ironic, though, that many Democrats are running on a platform of “don’t vote for Republicans as they will take away your Medicare benefits”.   Haven’t the Democrats already done that? 

At this point, as a result of Obamacare, there is little left to take.

Sheriff Andy thinks Obamacare is just swell

Please tell me it ain’t so. The Sheriff of Mayberry, the down home Southern boy has become the spokesperson for Obamacare. But really, it should not surpirse, Griffith campaigned for the boy President in ’08. Read more

NBC in Dallas notes the obvious – Docs pull out of Medicaid

When the government pays health care providers less than it costs the provider to provide the service, the providers will elect not to provide the service. I really tried hard to get another reference to provide in there…

Read more

Obama names health care “rationer in chief” Update

Today President Obama named Donald Berwick to the position of head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This is not good news for anyone who relies on either Medicare or Medicaid for their health care.

Dr. Berwick, a Harvard medical school professor, was appointed by Obama to this post in April, but no Senate confirmation hearings had even been scheduled, so the president, as is his right, simply appointed the good doctor while Congress was in its Fourth of July recess.

We told you about Dr. Berwick earlier, but some of his “beliefs” are worthy of mentioning again.

Limited resources require decisions about who will have access to care and the extent of their coverage.


The social budget is limited—we have a limited resource pool. It makes terribly good sense to at least know the price of an added benefit, and at some point we might say nationally, regionally, or locally that we wish we could afford it, but we can’t.

And finally,

We can make a sensible social decision and say, “Well, at this point, to have access to a particular additional benefit [new drug or medical intervention] is so expensive that our taxpayers have better use for those funds.” We make those decisions all the time. The decision is not whether or not we will ration care–the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.

Why were no Senate confirmation hearings even scheduled?  My guess…if hearings were held, Dr. Berwick’s radical views about health “care” would become widely know to the American public, 60% of whom (at least according to one poll) want to see Obamacare repealed.  Dr. Berwick’s sworn testimony at any such hearing would have driven the repeal Obamacare numbers even higher.

So, between now and the end of this congressional term in January, when Dr. Berwick’s appointment expires, Dr. Berwick will be charged, among other things, with drafting regulations that will reduce the government’s costs for Medicare and Medicaid by $500 billion, as “promised” by Obamacare.

This will not be a pretty picture.


And, don’t fall for “the Republicans were blocking the appointment” argument.

Even Max Baucus [D. Mt.], the Senate Finance Chairman, issued a statement critical of this end-around. President Obama claimed Republicans were stalling the appointment “for political purposes,” but Mr. Baucus hadn’t scheduled hearings and the nomination paperwork wasn’t even finished 11 weeks after he was named.

Caution: Medicare may be hazardous to your health

If you are currently on Medicare, by now you have already received the nifty 4 page flyer from the Department of Health and Human Services extolling the virtues of Obamacare for those on Medicare.   Unfortunately, much of what is contained in the flyer is untrue.  Now, however, you have even more to be concerned about.

President Obama has recently nominated Dr. Donald Berwick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  You need to know about the good doctor.  But first, I give a hat tip to Wyndeward, a frequent author on this blog, who gave me the link to this article.

Here is what Dr. Berwick had to say:

The decision is not whether or not we will ration care–the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.

And, if that doesn’t scare you what follows certainly will:

We can make a sensible social decision and say, [w]ell, at this point, to have access to a particular additional benefit [new drug or medical intervention] is so expensive that our taxpayers have better use for those funds.

What better use of funds?  Regardless of the answer, if you are on Medicare, and need a procedure or drug to survive, you will probably have a different viewpoint. 

And then, there is this:

The social budget is limited—we have a limited resource pool. It makes terribly good sense to at least know the price of an added benefit, and at some point we might say nationally, regionally, or locally that we wish we could afford it, but we can’t.

Perhaps someone should explain to Dr. Berwick that our “social budget” for Medicare wouldn’t be “limited” if we hadn’t spent most of people’s Medicare taxes on anything but Medicare.

And finally, the obligatory left wing comment:

Any health care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized and humane must–must redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and less fortunate.

Some will, no doubt, say, these are just isolated comments.  But, I think they reveal Dr. Berwick’s firm beliefs…beliefs that I, for one, certainly don’t share.