Apologizing for ObamaCare

If the Republicans passed a spending bill to do X and paid for it by reducing Medicare payments to providers to the level of Medicaid or lower, would these folks be singing different tune?

Henry J. Aaron, an economist and a longtime health policy analyst at the Brookings Institution and the Institute of Medicine, called Mr. Romney’s vow to repeal [ObamaCare] “both puzzling and bogus at the same time.”

Marilyn Moon, vice president and director of the health program at the American Institutes for Research, calculated that restoring the $716 billion in Medicare savings would increase premiums and co-payments for beneficiaries…

“One can only wonder what’s going on inside [the Romney] headquarters in Boston and among their policy people,” said John McDonough, the director of the Center for Public Health Leadership at Harvard.

This and more in a Jackie Calmes column in the NYT this morning. And for the price of the same newspaper you also get this doozy from Eduardo Porter:

Mitt Romney’s campaign was brazenly misleading in its charge that the president’s health plan would cut medical services to older adults by reducing Medicare spending by $716 billion.

Still, Romney’s attempt to “stoke voters’ fears” pales in comparison to what Medicare’s Chief Actuary has said, a message that has either been ignored by the NYT or buried way down deep in the story.

Comments (9)

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  1. Slaton says:

    Is it becoming apparent that the Romney-Ryan plan will not be enough?

  2. Devon Herrick says:

    I don’t know how else you could characterize a $716 billion (10-year) cut in the subsidies paid to insurers who cover seniors and the fees paid to providers for treating seniors. If caring for seniors was lucrative, a reduction in provider fees might make little difference. However, the Lewin Group estimates doctors who treat Medicare patients only get paid about 81% of what private insurers would pay for the same services. Under the Affordable Care Act this is slated to fall to less than 60%. It’s true this cuts isn’t quite the same as asking seniors to cough up $716 billion in additional premiums. But, taking away $716 billion from doctors will definitely impact their willingness to treat Medicare enrollees. Richard Foster, chief actuary for Medicare, appears to be the only one in government willing to admit this is going to cause a problem for seniors.

  3. Alec says:

    Medicare is in a bad place, especially after ACA. But neither party is being realistic about fixing it.

    “Governor Romney’s plan is to repeal Obamacare and replace it with patient-centered reforms that control cost throughout the health care system and extend the solvency of Medicare.” – Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for the Romney campaign

    Patient centered reforms are the wrong thing to do.

  4. Ken says:

    Agree. These are apologists for robbing Medicare to create a new entitlement for young people.

  5. Jeff says:

    These same dumb comments are being repeated at the Matt Yglesias blog — but approvingly! See:


    Henry Aaron doubles down here:


  6. Chuck says:

    Interesting to watch politicians follow-up on their word.

  7. Eric says:

    I guess the question is if it’s a 1:1 exchange: ie, will $716 billion in increased premiums outweigh the potential service reductions caused by reducing reimbursements/overpayments by $716 billion? I’m not sure if I know the answer to that, but it’s a legitimate discussion to have rather than demagoguing the other side while maintaining that your side doesn’t harm anybody.

  8. August says:

    The answer is no, with a caveat. Cutting medicare to do anything is politically charged, but cutting it to reform healthcare is less so.

  9. Robert says:

    It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to see any alleged stance made on this issue as anything close to credible.