The chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has delivered his scoring of HR 3962 to members of Congress and the news isn’t good. Not only does it look like the bill will wind up costing more than projected by the CBO, the pledge that the bill will not reduce services to Medicare recipients will be difficult, if not impossible, to keep.
Some of you may remember Rick Foster from the fiasco surrounding George Bush’s Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. Foster’s cost estimates for the plan were more than $200 billion higher than the CBO’s.
Last Thursday when I read that the report for HR 3962 would not be finished by Saturday’s vote I feared we were headed for trouble. Actually, I was a bit stunned that House leaders weren't waiting to hear from Medicare's chief actuary when their bill introduced major changes for Medicare and Medicaid.
The report is much easier to read than the one released by the CBO. I found some of the best analysis of it at The Washington Post.
A plan to slash more than $500 billion from future Medicare spending -- one of the biggest sources of funding for President Obama's proposed overhaul of the nation's health-care system -- would sharply reduce benefits for some senior citizens and could jeopardize access to care for millions of others, according to a government evaluation released Saturday.
If the government intervenes to prevent these reductions in and losses of health services for seniors, there would be a substantial reduction in actual savings as projected by House leadership.
The report also questions whether current healthcare infrastructure is capable of handling the immediate increase of those seeking benefits.
The additional demand for health services could be difficult to meet initially with existing health provider resources and could lead to price increases, cost-shifting, changes in providers’ willingness to treat patients with low-reimbursement health coverage.
The President continues to say that there will be no reduction in guaranteed Medicare benefits for seniors. What he isn't saying is these benefits may cost more for many seniors and health services may be more difficult to find due to a lack of participating providers.