The $8 Billion Re-election Slush Fund

It’s hard to imagine a bigger electoral disaster for a president than seniors in crucial states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio discovering that he’s taken away their beloved Medicare Advantage just weeks before an election.

But the administration’s devised a way to postpone the pain one more year, getting Obama past his last election; it plans to spend $8 billion to temporarily restore Medicare Advantage funds so that seniors in key markets don’t lose their trusted insurance program in the middle of Obama’s re-election bid.

The money is to come from funds that Health and Human Services is allowed to use for “demonstration projects.” But to make it legal, HHS has to pretend that it’s doing an “experiment” to study the effect of this money on the insurance market.

That is, to “study” what happens when the government doesn’t change anything but merely continues a program that’s been going on for years.

 Obama can temporarily prop up Medicare Advantage long enough to get re-elected by exploiting an obscure bit of federal law. Under a 1967 statute, the HHS secretary can spend money without specific approval by Congress on “experiments” directly aimed at “increasing the efficiency and economy of health services.”

Full editorial by Ben Sasse and Charles Hurt. More from theAssociated Press:

In a rebuke to the Obama administration, government auditors are calling for the cancellation of an $8 billion Medicare program that congressional Republicans have criticized as a political ploy.

Also see Benjamin Domenech’s discussion of the topic.

Comments (4)

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  1. Joe Barnett says:

    Someone in Congress should sue. These funds will be diverted from other appropriated purposes.

  2. Buster says:

    There’s a fine line between easing the transition for seniors in Medicare Advantage plans and bribing MA plan sponsors to keep irate seniors from voting Republican in November. I wonder which side of the line this slush fund falls on?

  3. brian says:

    Definitely a political ploy.

  4. Vicki says:

    This is outrageous.