Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Health Bill's Medicare Cuts are Wishful Thinking

The Democrat Health Plan now working its way to the Senate is being marketed as deficit reducing, despite its $1.2 trillion price tag. The plan will be paid for by increased taxes and reduced Medicare payments.

Specifically, the plan calls for $426 billion in spending cuts and $572 billion in taxes, and is projected to net a $104 billion deficit reduction over 10 years.

The proposed cuts are likely to be short lived, as Congress has a history of proposing Medicare spending cuts, then abandoning them as medical interest groups turn up the heat.

Under both Democrats and Republicans, Congress repeatedly has waived curbs it has tried to place on spending. It has given back other savings from the 1997 law to hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and other providers, most notably in 1999. More recently, Congress has twice switched off a cost-saving trigger that was contained in a 2003 bill establishing a Medicare prescription-drug benefit. Congress also frequently has waived budget resolution limits, as well as pay-as-you-go rules requiring offsets for tax cuts and entitlement spending.

Since 1997, Congress has passed five Medicare spending cuts, only to repeal all five shortly after they went into effect.

A plan that cuts Medicare spending by half a trillion dollars is wishful thinking. Do not be fooled.

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