NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

October 24, 2012

We deserve better than Obama's health care plan

I want to urge my fellow senior citizens to do their research in order to understand how the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) will affect them and their families before casting their ballots in November. Seniors are an important voting block and are being actively courted by both sides.

The ACA is the biggest expansion of health care since 1965. It restructures one-sixth of the economy, putting it into the hands of politicians and bureaucrats, a frightening prospect indeed, given the fraud and seemingly endless scandals associated with government agencies. The ACA establishes 159 new boards, commissions and agencies. It is front-loaded with ANTICIPATED tax revenues while the benefit costs are backloaded. It also authorizes $10 billion to hire 17,000 IRS agents to force compliance.

It is undeniable that the ACA cuts $716 billion from Medicare over the next 10 years ($308 billion from the Medicare Advantage Program; $294 billion from hospitals; $66 billion from home health services; $39 billion from nursing home payments and $17 billion from hospice providers). Medicare is being raided to fund a new entitlement for people of all ages.

Supporters erroneously claim that current seniors will not be impacted by these cuts. Even the Medicare Trustees 2012 report concluded that the cuts will likely result in approximately 15 percent of hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and home health agencies operating at a loss by 2019. This will likely result in cutbacks and/or termination of services, making it more difficult for seniors to access services. A 2008 survey by the Physicians Foundation found that 12 percent of doctors closed their practices to Medicare patients.

The ACA has a 15-member Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) appointed by the president. They are charged with overseeing health care costs, and ultimately reducing per capita Medicare spending in years when it is expected to exceed target levels in 2015. The IPAB’s proposals will be adopted unless Congress offers equally effective alternatives. The IPAB is not supposed to raise taxes, change benefits or ration care. However, every country with government-run health care has had to cut costs by rationing, so why should we be any different?

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