ObamaCare, officially the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. The wheels are already falling off, even before the U.S. Supreme Court begins a review of its constitutionality.
The promise, according to Senator Michael Bennet, D-Colo., on March 10, 2010
“[ObamaCare will] help us solve the fiscal problems that threaten our economy and our kids’ future by reining in skyrocketing health care costs. As promised, this legislation would not add one dime to the deficit. In fact, [ObamaCare will] significantly reduce the deficit by $1.3 trillion in the first twenty years, bring down costs and provide affordable health insurance to [Americans] who currently do not have it.”
The reality as to the deficit
Extensive searching did not turn up anything like the $1.3 trillion figure in any Congressional Budget Office report of its analyses. Rather, it appears to be pie in the sky, “baked” by ObamaCare proponents extrapolating what CBO communications said about possibly reduced rates of growth in government health care expenditures.
CBO analysis, slyly structured by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., manager of the ObamaCare legislation, conceded that it advocates $130 billion for the first 10 years, a far cry from Bennet’s $1.3 trillion. More than half, $77 billion, came from Title VIII, the CLASS Act, which has now been found to be budgetarily bogus. (As to the CLASS Act, see my letter to Sens. Udall and Bennet below.)
According to Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf (letter and blog in December 2009):
“A detailed year-by-year projection for years beyond 2019 … would not be meaningful because the uncertainties involved are simply too great.”
“It is unclear whether such a reduction in the growth rate [of Medicare spending per beneficiary] could be achieved, and if so, whether it would be accomplished through greater efficiencies in the delivery of health care or would reduce access to care or diminish the quality of care.” (Emphasis added.)
“These longer-term considerations assume that the provisions are enacted and remain unchanged throughout the next two decades, which is often not the case for major legislation. For example, the sustainable growth rate (SGR) mechanism governing Medicare’s payments to physicians has frequently been modified (either through legislation or administrative action) to avoid reductions in those payments, and legislation to do so again is under consideration in the Congress.”
Congress has continued to kick the SGR can down the road. Without another kick, SGR will reduce physician payments by 29.5 percent on January 1, 2012. Physicians willing to accept Medicare patients are falling away in droves. One must assume the SGR problem can only accelerate this exodus by physicians from the Medicare market.
The reality as to availability of “affordable health insurance”
Like physicians serving Medicare patients, many employers have discontinued their employee health insurance plans. Implementation of early provisions of ObamaCare is helping push up costs of those remaining.
The Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2011 Employer Health Benefits Survey:
“After several years of relatively modest premium increases, annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage increased to $15,073 this year, up 9 percent from last year … ‘especially painful for workers and employers struggling through a weak recovery’ [according to Kaiser’s CEO Dr. Drew Altman].”
Colorado’s two U.S. Senators, Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, both Democrats, were ObamaCare supporters from the get-go. The letter following was faxed to their offices earlier this week.
Dear Sen. Bennet and Sen. Udall:
Re: Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act
(Title VIII of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act)
Surprise! Contrary to Democrat claims during debate leading to passage of Sen. Harry Reid=s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius has now admitted that Title VIII, the so-called CLASS Act, cannot be implemented so as to pay for itself. The Washington Times reports that Sibelius’ assistant secretary for aging, Kathy Greenlee, told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that HHS spent five million dollars on analysis (‘modeling’) to implement CLASS, but found no viable path forward.
ObamaCare is developing exactly as you and your colleagues were told by us critics well before Christmas Eve 2009 when you joined a majority of them in voting to pass Reid’s version that ultimately became law.
Much of my large file of communication to you before and subsequent to passage of ObamaCare addresses Congressional Budget Office scoring, the process so aptly described by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as smoke and mirrors. You echoed Pres. Obama’s claim that his health-care legislation doesn’t add one dime to the deficit, along with the even more transparently preposterous myth, claimed to be supported by the CBO, that ObamaCare Awill significantly reduce the deficit. (The quote marks are around language contained in communications from one or both of you.)
I repeatedly referred you to CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf’s skepticism as to the facts presented by Reid & Co. (dealing with SGR being one, Sen. Bennet) on which his agency was compelled to rely in arriving at its smoke-and-mirrors score. I mention here SGR sustainable growth rate for provider reimbursements because Sen. Bennet’s email to me on May 3, 2010 said:
“The Medicare physician payment system needs to be fixed, and it needs to be fixed for good, but it must be done in a way that does not add to our deficit. … I will support a solution, and I am insistent that we find a way to pay for it.”
Insistent, you said, Senator! How’re you coming along on that?
In a letter faxed to Sen. Udall one day before your Christmas Eve vote, copied to Sen. Bennet, I said I [suspected] and [feared] that only the Almighty knows what all is in the legislation you are now voting on. Speaker Pelosi shamelessly affirmed that when, in an address to a National Association of Counties conference shortly before passage by the House on March 21, 2010 she stated, but we have to pass the bill so that you can, uh, find out what is in it away from the fog of the controversy.
Another December 2009 letter from my wife Jackie and me warned you both, You are about to do your country great harm. You did, and we wonder how either of you can now sleep at night.
s/ John Dendahl