Obama Healthcare Plan: Pushback on the Hill…Orszag’attacks’capitalism..Grassley fires back over proposed Medicare Advantage elimination…
Airtime: Tues. Mar. 10 2009 | 4:18 AM ET
A preview of the Senate’s scrutiny of the President’s plan for healthcare reform…and discussing the administrations involvement in business, with Sen. Charles Grassley, Senate Finance Committe ranking member (R-IA).
What you mean it isn’t all, ‘the days of wine and roses’? You mean once the Kumbayah Summit is over some Critters begin to balk at Health Care restructuring aka Medicare Cuts??No!
What happened to the magical rainbow ponies that mean old Hillary just didn’t understand how to work with? What, you mean some Critters don’t want to cut Medicare when most of their voters are Seniors? Really? Gee whoudda thunk it??
You mean you can start out trying to do something good for America, and get twisted inside out upside down and then lambasted for it? No!
You don’t suppose someone will later use this against Team Obama and the Dems as an ‘overreach’ in an election do you?! Nahhhh, Hey at least fellow DEM candidates won’t use it against Team Obama, cause that would be wrong! What’s that you say? Obama used Harry and Louise ads against Hillary in the primaries, modeled after GOP arguments against UHC? GASP!
AND THEY ARE GAMBLING IN RICK’S PLACE! SHOCKAH!!
…But, health care reform will happen in the halls of Congress, not at White House summits. And things were a bit more heated on Capitol Hill today when Obama’s Budget Director Peter Orzsag discussed health care reform with the Senate Finance Committee.
The budget proposed by the President, Grassley pointed out, would cut funding for Medicare Advantage programs by more than $170 billion. Seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage programs account for nearly a quarter of all Medicare enrollees, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“Question, if we take $176 billion out of this Medicare Advantage program through plan bidding, how many of the ten million beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage do you estimate would lose their current coverage?” asked Grassley.
The budget director took the opportunity to “take a step back” and consider the entire logic behind the Medicare Advantage programs, which are subsidized by the government.
“First, I know many people believe that capitalism is founded on private markets, and it is. But I very firmly believe that capitalism is not founded on excessively high subsidies to private firms. That is what this system delivers right now,” said Orzsag. “For every Medicare beneficiary in Medicare Advantage, the federal government pay $1,000 more than covering the same beneficiary under traditional fee-for-service. In addition, it is true that Medicare Advantage plans then take part of that extra payment and deliver it in the form of either additional benefits or lower premiums to beneficiaries. But the data also suggests that every dollar of additional benefits costs the federal government $1.30 in cost. So what we’re doing is we’re all paying $1.30 in order to deliver a dollar to a subset, 20 percent, of Medicare beneficiaries. I don’t think that is competition. I think that is an unwarranted subsidy.”
The attack on the programs, which Grassley has championed, drew a heated response from Grassley.
“Well, you’re going to take half of my time lecturing me on capitalism,” said an agitated Grassley, “Can you answer — can you answer my question about how many of the ten million beneficiaries enrolled would you estimate would lose? And if you can’t give me a figure on the savings, how much comes from less enrollment versus less expenditures? At least tell me how many of the ten million you think will go because, in 2007, your agency that you headed at that time said that it would cause plans to leave the program and it would effect my area of the country, rural America, more than urban America. So I want to make sure that we — if we have a national system of health care, it’s going to deliver the same thing in Iowa as it does in California. Because, for 40 years, it didn’t.”