nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Friday, April 23, 2010

Medicare Says: More Coverage Yes, Less Cost No.

I read somewhere that ObamaCare will combine the efficiency of the DMV with the compassion of the IRS.  Reviewing a new Poison Pill (#13).

Nice joke, but this is certainly an exaggeration.  However, a new wart has popped up in the plan.  The Associated Press describes a report by Medicare accountants that says that health care costs will continue to rise.  The rise will be modest in the context of the overall cost of healthcare, but only if the Medicare cuts in the new law turn out to be realistic and sustainable.  If Medicare patients, doctors, and hospitals find that the cuts in the law undermine access or quality of care, political pressure to modify those cuts could cause the increase in cost to accelerate.

As Medicare's chief actuary commented, "the longer-term viability of the Medicare ... reductions is doubtful.”

Since Congress always bends to political pressure, particularly from constituents who are key to their re-election, I think the Medicare cuts that are essential to the financial success of health care reform will be trimmed back or erased.

I'm looking forward to keeping all the posts I've made over the last year warning about rising costs and comparing them to what we see in a few years.  Will the pundits who've been supportive, or those who've been critical, of the cost of our current reform prove themselves right?  History seems on the side of the latter.

Politicians have traditionally been able to say one thing one day, then completely reverse themselves and nobody can quite remember what they said before.  One of the nice things about digital storage of print and video is they can't get away with that anymore (President Obama:  "no increase in taxes on the middle class" (2008) versus "actually I said no income tax increases on the middle class." (2010)  You're fudging, Mr President)  And thanks to blogging, I won't be able to duck what I said, either.

The worst case scenario is that the increased cost causes (1) Congress to increase spending, keeping the national debt on the rise, or (2) benefits to be capped, by cutting back on certain types of medical care (already under discussion), or (3) removing some of the newly insured (as Massachusetts did).

I've seen four newspaper articles (two from the NY Times) revealing significant contradictions to the rosey projections made by supporters of the current reform law.  It's interesting (sarcasm) that the media organizations who've been pointing out these flaws were quiet about them back when they were supporting passage.

I have to keep reminding myself that news organizations are not Truthsayers, they are for-profit businesses.


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